I want to lay out my case for Jacquizz Rogers as the Falcons feature back in 2014. But it would be best to define some terms before we get into that. I feel like we get phrases such as “feature back”, “power back”, “change of pace guy”, and “homerun threat” muddled together far too often. We hear these terms thrown around on the networks, sports radio, and message boards without a lot of context. But for the sake of my argument I would want to clarify that a power back and a feature back are not the same thing. Also, a change of pace back doesn’t mean “speed guy”. I think different offensive game plans emphasize running backs differently, and therefore different RB traits would be valued by different teams.
A feature back has the skill set to maximize what an offensive game-plan. A change of pace back comes in to give the defense something unexpected. I think it is that simple. I also think that, depending on the offense, what one team values as a feature back might not be utilized by another. Let’s look at the ways Quizz could step up and lend his skill sets to Atlanta’s offense as the primary back.
Receiving Ability- The screen pass is a major weapon of the Falcon offense. In offensive coordinator Dirk Kotter’s first season, Atlanta went from having the 32nd ranked screen game to the second most prolific screen attack and leading the NFL in screen TDs. That year also saw Quizz’s targets and his first down receptions more than double as well. The most impressive receiving stat from that season was probably catching 90% of the passes thrown his way. Footballoutsiders.com actually placed him as the 4th most valuable pass catching RB in 2012.
Enter 2013. Not much should be remembered from Atlanta’s running game in 2013. Quizz should have taken a step forward but and been an even more prolific pass catcher and all around better running back, but his numbers dipped. I would be the first to say that was because of the paltry effort from the banged up, frequently shuffled offensive line. Atlanta ranked dead last in rushing yards from scrimmage. So it is impossible to glean from last year any signs that might say that Quizz is ready to step up and take the lion’s share of the rushing responsibility. But that is the problem, we have never seen Quizz work behind an adequate offensive line.
Size/Athleticism is no Concern- The popular opinion of the 5’6” Quizz is that he is a small guy. While he is short, at 196lbs he is far from small. Size wise is comparable to Jamaal Charles. Being four inches shorter, but only three pounds lighter than the Kansas City stud shows how stoutly built Quizz actually is. For another comparison, Rogers is heavier than New York Jets RB Chris Johnson, and his slight frame didn’t keep Johnson from running between the tackles.
So Quizz doesn’t have the elite speed of those guys, his 4.52 time in the 40 yards dash is just about average for an NFL running back. But one feature back that Quizz certainly compares to is Philadelphia RB LeSean McCoy. Both Rogers and McCoy have very similar builds and workout numbers. Both are very agile and explosive players, while not possessing elite straight-line speed, both have phenomenal lateral quickness and short area burst.
McCoy is the feature back in the Eagles up-tempo offense and that style of play is very much suited to his skill set. As a good route runner, with great hands and an elite change-of-direction McCoy is the engine that makes the Eagles offense go. But what should be noted is that while McCoy led the NFL last season in rushing as an individual, the Eagles as a team led the NFL. It’s pretty clear that those 1,000 extra rushing yard that didn’t come from McCoy were the product of superior offensive line play.
While Quizz does have those same skill sets as McCoy, what should be noted is that he would never be the focal point of the Atlanta offense. The super-talented duo of Julio Jones and Roddy White with top-5 QB Matt Ryan throwing them the ball dictates where defensive have to pay attention. Give Quizz an offensive line that can create some holes and he could do great things as Atlanta’s feature back.
I am not trying to say that Quizz is as talented as Charles or McCoy. But what he brings to the table is a blend of skill set that meshes perfectly with what the Falcons will try to do offensively in 2014. He has the hands and route running ability to be a receiving weapon in Atlanta’s pass heavy and screen heavy offense. He also has adequate size to run up the middle, given that there is an upgrade in the offensive lines performance with new starters Jon Asamoah and potential draft picks.
Quizz has the skill set to be Atlanta’s feature back with his blend of skill, athleticism, size, and vision.