Falcons’ Anderson knows his guarantees are running out

This is what Jamaal Anderson looks like after a sack. It's a rare photo. (Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com)

This is what Falcons end Jamaal Anderson looks like after a sack. Only a couple of these photos exist. (Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com)

FLOWERY BRANCH — There is an incentive bonus built into Jamaal Anderson’s contract that will pay him $5 million if he reaches 30 career sacks before the end of this season or 40 sacks before the end of 2010. Let’s go out on a limb here. That bonus is sitting under a tree in Never Never Land.

Went out to the Branch Wednesday ostensibly to chat with Falcons defensive end John Abraham for a column. But while there, I figured I’d check in with the other end, Anderson, who was the eighth overall draft pick in 2007 but obviously hasn’t played like it.

Anderson had two sacks last season. That’s two more than he had the year before. Now, you can understand the poor kid being traumatized by his first season in the NFL. The draft was followed by all matters concerning Michael Vick, which was followed by the realization that Bobby Petrino was a complete tool. So at least Anderson faded into the background of the Falcons’ nightmare.

“I think I was put in a situation almost no rookie ever has to face,” he said

But that was two years ago. Anderson knows his time is up. He was given a five-year, $30.9 million contract, with half that guaranteed. He won’t see year four of the deal if he doesn’t show something significant. It’s not known at this time whether the Falcons will use him at end in the base defense or pass situations, or move him inside to tackle. For his part, Anderson is expecting to start.

Here are a few of his other responses from Wednesday.

On whether he’s aware of criticism: “Absolutely. But I can’t let it get to me. Some people, their careers jump off slower than others. That’s the one I’d like to do is ask for patience. But this year I do expect a lot of myself. I can’t let it distract me and the goals I’ve set for myself.”

On having high expectations: “I do, and I know what I’m capable of doing. They’re counting on me and I’m counting on myself. But I’m trying not to put too much pressure on myself.”

On training camp: “I think I’ve had the best camp since I’ve been here. I’ve heard a lot of positive comments from other players and coaches. I just want to continue to get better. I dedicated this off-season to having the best season I could have and I definitely see it paying off.”

On his slow career start: “I didn’t think the learning curve would be as hard as it was. My rookie year was tough and last year seemed like another rookie year for me. But having the same coach and the same system this year has helped.”

Question: Do you expect much from Anderson this season? Honestly, my expectations are low. But I figure if he shows anything, it’s a bonus.

93 comments Add your comment

JeffC

August 26th, 2009
5:45 pm

Hate to say this, but if Anderson were going to produce, we would have seen some hint of it by now. Even Sidbury has two sacks already in the pre-season. Let’s just hope he becomes just as much of a steal as Jamaal has become a bust… they can cancel each other out.

gaboy

August 26th, 2009
5:51 pm

Jamal Anderson is only 24 yrs old.. the same age as Sidbury.. Think about it, he was a 21yr old kid thrown out there to play with grown men.. I think he held his own all things considered.. I do however expect to see more results out of him this year, if only from an effort stand point he should at least have 10 sacks. He has all the physical tools you could want out of the position, now its about taking what he has learned and applying it to Sunday’s!! Time to grow up big fella!

gaboy

August 26th, 2009
5:55 pm

sorry… he’s only 23!! He wont be 24 until February!!

gaboy

August 26th, 2009
5:57 pm

Actually. Both he and Sidbury have the exact same Birthday.. 2/6/1986!! Bookends of the future!

Mr Chrome

August 26th, 2009
6:06 pm

call it wat you want, Glen dorsey is in a messed up situation in Kansas City but you still see something. shoot even madden has C. Davis ranked higher than him. and Sid is ranked the same. but all games aside, thats the one place anderson hasnt shown. Id like him to show up cause I’d love to see abraham get some help. davis has had better play in less time. Sid the kid did in week two of the preseason what took anderson two years. We’ll see though…

JSS

August 26th, 2009
6:07 pm

Jeff Schultz, what were Michael Strahan’s numbers for the first two years of his career with the NY Giants? How about Dexter Manley? What did Jason Taylor do in his 3rd year? I think you’ll be surprised…

Dan

August 26th, 2009
6:12 pm

Falcons will give him a year and done….Falcons will sign Alex Brown DE next year from Chicago

Mikefalcon63

August 26th, 2009
6:12 pm

To me, the jury is still out on Anderson. He has the tools, speed, and size. He just has to pull it all together. And for everyone who brings up Sidbury’s 2 sacks… Go back and watch the 1991 pre-season when Aundry Bruce went nuts on the opposing QBs. Bruce never came close to being able to hold Anderson’s jock. It is for our own good as fans to pull for the guy and hope he does well this season.

MRK

August 26th, 2009
6:16 pm

D-end is not excactly a thinking mans position. I believe that if he belonged in this league we would have seen some sign of it by now. I really (really really) want to be wrong but as any lawyer would say “THE EVIDENCE SHOWS THIS ONE IS A BUST”.

Ashley

August 26th, 2009
6:17 pm

Mr Chrome

August 26th, 2009
6:17 pm

I hope he does well myself. But I don’t see the falcons keeping him if he doesn’t. I hope he does blow up and give us what we haven’t had on that side since kearny. because that would less the stress on our CB’s. He does have the potential. I just would like for it to be unleashed.

Mr Chrome

August 26th, 2009
6:19 pm

the caption for the photo still funny though

Decatur Tech Fan

August 26th, 2009
6:29 pm

Ga Boy U R A TOOL. You cdnt be more wrong about someone…..he is 23…he’s GROWN. I guessIts ok for this guy to take millions but we cant criticize when he stinks up the joint? Come on.
Make book on this…. He SAAAAAHHHHUUUUCKS!

tyler

August 26th, 2009
6:31 pm

Anderson is to slow. The best coach in the world can not make a player quicker or faster. It’s been obvious since we drafted him. A terrible pick that continues to haunt us. We will have to use another high draft pick at DE soon. Hopefully we wont miss again.

CASEY

August 26th, 2009
6:32 pm

I expect less than nothing, meaning he will continue to be the main detracting factor on this team. It will be a little better now because hopefully our linebackers will blitz often from his side and not allow quarterbacks to eat a hoagie while processing and working the right side of the field. I don’t blame Coach Smith and those involved in giving him chances past week 10 last year because I know Mr. Blank is probably the only voice (and the loudest) that wants to get some kind of “return” on the business disaster that is # 98 (I can’t say his name.) Coach Smith didn’t draft him, and if I know Dimitroff, they both probably cringe when looking at him on film. I fully expect EVERY single Defensive Lineman, from Abraham on down to Sidbury, and everyone in between from Mallard to Biermann to Davis, to get twice the playing time of #98. You know, based on the fact that they can actually get something done in the way of pressuring the line and the QB. Numbers matter not to me. Effort means everything. # 98 has never showed me any. One of the greatest days in the Falcons’ franchise history will come when he is shipped to a team with a moron for a GM for actual value. If you’re reading this # 98: Bend your knees and drive somebody. Use your hands and arms: the referees allow this. Passion is good, too. The opposing tackle is not your friend. This isn’t a prom dance. DO SOMETHING!!!!!

Dave

August 26th, 2009
6:40 pm

Jamaal is still young, younger than Peria Jerry by 1 1/2 years and born the exact same day as L. Sidbury, on 2-6-86. It’s not his fault that he was picked #8 so if he ends up being a bust we can point the finger at Rich McKay. Sure, he had/has the measurables to be an outstanding DE, but starting and throwing one of the youngest players at the time into the pressure cooker the Falcons went through because of MV7 and Petrino, may very well have stunted if not ruined his NFL career. He does look somewhat lethargic much of the time but I truly hope that the game slows up for him this year. Maybe his off season work with Chuck Smith and having this be his second season in the same system will pay dividends. At least we’ve got Sidbury, Biermann, and Davis to bookend J. Abraham and a solid rotation in the middle. Regardless of how he plays, he probably won’t get cut this year because it makes more fiscal sense to keep him due to the structure of his guaranteed money and the cap . Next year is another story. It’s now or never (with the Falcons) for JA 98.

bunch

August 26th, 2009
6:42 pm

have nothing against the young man, but to date he’s one of those looks-like-tarzan-plays-like-jane. and even aundray bruce had six sacks in each of his rookie and soph seasons; it was AFTER that where he tanked (though I’m confident bruce’s cumulative 32 sacks and 11 NFL seasons will both be well beyond the reach of this pleasant-but-not-NFL-caliber young man.

MiltonDawg

August 26th, 2009
6:46 pm

still hasn’t lived up to 1st rd talent. Quit with the excuses and play.

The Grinch

August 26th, 2009
6:50 pm

I genuinely like Anderson and do think that only having one successful college season before having all these expectations thrown on him might have been too much too soon. That said, he has no excuses this season. Time to poop or get off the pot.

Hillbilly Deluxe

August 26th, 2009
7:01 pm

It’s obvious this is his make or break year, at least as a a Falcon. I think he’ll show improvement but only time will tell.

nhe

August 26th, 2009
7:02 pm

Apparently, Anderson’s rookie combine measurables were very good – which is why every team out there had him in the top 10 on their board.

However, Defensive Line is in the NFL is for beasts. It takes a certain mentality that its very clear that Anderson doesn’t have. I just don’t think the Falcons can afford to put him out there when they clearly have better alternatives at this point.

Truthfully, with his background at WR before he grew, and his 40 time, Anderson should re-invent himself as a TE. His temperament is just more suited for the comparatively docile world of offense.

I will literally cringe and hold my breath every time he is on the field this season, knowing there are better options standing on the sidelines.

nhe

August 26th, 2009
7:10 pm

Casey – A(stinkin’)MEN!!!!!!!!!!

GT alum

August 26th, 2009
7:34 pm

Thank you Jeff Schultz for calling it like it is. Personally, I’m willing to take it a step further and declare him a bust. I’ve seen enough to know this guy isn’t gonna cut it in the league. He might be up there with Aundray(sp?) Bruce as the worst Falcons’ pick ever.

Eagles hater

August 26th, 2009
7:46 pm

I hope he breaks Vick’s leg!

Volman

August 26th, 2009
7:47 pm

“which was followed by the realization that Bobby Petrino was a complete tool.”

I love it, Mr. Schultz!

RDM

August 26th, 2009
8:08 pm

Call it like it is, a bust at this point. Sad thing is they passed on Gaines Adams with that pick, whom the Bucs gladly took. I’m so glad those days are over. Go Birds!

Dwayne

August 26th, 2009
8:15 pm

Everyone knows the picture of Vick is recent, I saw him at the MY-T-Sharpe in Queens getting a weave. Who’s next?

GT GRAD

August 26th, 2009
8:16 pm

I do not expect much from Jamal, But I REALLY hope he has a superb year. He has this year to show he can be a productive player or he will be gone. I sincerely hope he has a great year and develops into a dominate DE, but I am afraid this is simply too optimistic. He is actuallty fairly solid against the run, but he obviously needs to get better as a pass rusher. It is not outside of the realm of possibilities that he develops into a very good DE……..we can only watch and hope at this point!

He accumulated most of his college stats against the over-rated, softer teams in the SEC (bottom 7 of the 12 SEC teams) and the super-soft out of conference teams on the Arkansas schedule.

No NFL team will trade for a player with his salary and lack of production; however, if we end up cutting him prior to camp next year, he will have several teams interested in giving him a shot……….if this happens, he will have a lot to prove to his new team and he will not make the BIG bucks until he proves his worth.

He has a ton of motovation to prove he has what it takes to be productive this year………let’s all hope he has a stellar year in 2009!!

Pedro

August 26th, 2009
8:18 pm

This is make or break year.Roddy White looked like a bust after year two. hort leash but one more year

Jeff Schultz

August 26th, 2009
8:22 pm

JSS
Sack totals first 3 years
Dexter Manley: 0 – 6.5 – 11
Michael Strahan: 1 – 4.5 – 7.5
Jason Taylor: 5 – 9 – 2.5

Ashley – what was the point of that?

Tyler – I think it’s not just speed. It’s “motor.” A DL coach once told pass rush is 90 percent effort.

Volman – He made that kind of easy.

Joe

August 26th, 2009
8:23 pm

The guy just does not have the love for the game, and he is a p*ssy.

That is not a good combination for a football player.

She is the definition of “look like Tarzan, play like Jane.”

kauai dawg

August 26th, 2009
8:29 pm

Forget about it! Andre Bruce looks good compared to this guy!

GA Boy

August 26th, 2009
8:37 pm

@ Decatur Tech…Where do you get off calling me a tool for voicing my opinion, laced with a little fact.. Im not making excuses for his pay.. but if someone offered your dumb a$$ millions based upon an evaluation of potential.. let me guess.. You wouldnt take it.. you probabaly have never taken a hit or a snap.. My point was that different people progress at different rates, so to say he is a bust, this early in his career (and life) MAY not be correct.. There is still time yet.. Let me give you an example, in a different sport.. J. Francouer, former Brave.. Sucked past 2 yrs here.. Now he is batting in the 280’s with more homeruns than he had all year hear, in what supposedly is tougher park. That all happened in one season..obviously scouts (professionial talent evaluators) saw something in him. Dude was 21 and played WR in HS

Brian Hunt

August 26th, 2009
8:52 pm

Given that he’s actually pretty decent against the run, he only needs to get to about seven sacks this season to have a good year. I hope he does it.

tbhawksfan

August 26th, 2009
8:56 pm

He’ll be on the team this year. hope he does very well.

JV

August 26th, 2009
9:04 pm

I concede that I am not an expert, but isn’t there more to evaluating the performance of a DE than just sack totals? Did anyone notice how dreadful the Falcons’ run defense became when Anderson was out with an injury late in the season?

Peter de

August 26th, 2009
9:05 pm

Ok Shultzie…You have put the word out and Jamaal is reading. If he can’t pull the incentive out of this blog, well, he’ll have to hope that somewhere he will find some kinda cash for DE Clunkers program.

Flo-Ri-Duh!

August 26th, 2009
9:06 pm

B.S. – either you have it or you don’t… 21 or 24 doesn’t make a hill of beans. He was overrated and that is obvious.

GA Boy

August 26th, 2009
9:13 pm

FLO ri DUMB… SO you did the same things you did at 21 as 24?? If so you suck!! Everyone saying that excuses are being made is wrong.. I never heard JA make excuses..never gave him any outs.. but i do believe in giving someone chance…again there are different levels of maturation..just because some of you guys married your sisters at the tender age of 14 and lived happily ever after, does not mean thats the road for everyone to take..

Peter de

August 26th, 2009
9:14 pm

Have you asked John Abraham how Jamaal is progressing or do you think that’s a loaded question?

26.2

August 26th, 2009
9:19 pm

Some bloggers have mentioned Anderson’s age – which I did not know he is that young. This proves that McKay drafted him on potential which has yet to be fulfilled. This may follow McKay’s draft strategy as Roddy White wasn’t even a receiver most of his college career. Wish Anderson the best but it would clearly be a complete turnaround if he becomes productive.

Astro

August 26th, 2009
9:30 pm

Patrick Kearney had a total of 5 sacks his first two years and then had 22.5 sacks his next two years.

Maybe Jamaal can do the same.

sportaree

August 26th, 2009
9:31 pm

I,ve been a fan of the Atlanta Falcons for 35 yrs. The coaches will evaluate each and every player at every position. Thank goodness we finally have a good and experienced staff that will put the best product on the field opening day vs. Miami . I think it will be Abraham and Davis at the defensive end positions.Yeah a team wants to play its top picks but…… GO FALCONS EAT YOU SOME MEAT NOT birdseed.

K

August 26th, 2009
9:36 pm

If he doesn’t get at least 5 sacks this season, then he’s a bust and hasta la vista.

JSS

August 26th, 2009
9:39 pm

Bingo!!! Only Taylor went down in year 3… By the way, finally someone pointed the obvious regarding Anderson. The kid was actually fairly stout against the rush. It did not help that he play played on the same side as the All-Pro sieve, (how is Brook doing in Big D by the way?) I just wish they’d continue using some flexibility with him on passing down and play him alongside Davis on passing downs. It set The Predator loose, well that is when he’s not pulling a hammy… Abraham is walking to a golf cart HAMMY!!! Abraham is getting some water HAMMY!!! Abraham is picking up his helmet HAMMY!!! OK, prostrate is taken care going back to sleep! By the way, get 71 on the field, that is your pure pass rusher!

Braves

August 26th, 2009
9:40 pm

Can’t even beat the pathetic padres. This team sucks. So glad this city and state finally has some good football–college and pro. I wish the baseball season would end already. It’s a boring sport anyway and lasts way too long.

Joe

August 26th, 2009
9:46 pm

Kroy Bierman is much better than Anderson at this point. That kid is a flat-out beast and wakes up wanting to hit somebody!

Anderson is scared of contact. Cannot play winning football if you do not want to physically embarass the man across from you. That cannot be taught.

Nativebird

August 26th, 2009
10:01 pm

The Talk and the Performance just does NOT match up. “high expectations” of himself? Did you see the Rams game? He spent 1/2 the night on the ground with an 0-lineman on top of him! When he was actually on his feet, a running back would fly by him as he waived helplessly in the air at him, like a Astronaught stuck in a space suit floating helplessly out in space. the guy has NO motor whatsoever, and might be even slower than Grady Jackson in a foot race.
Cmon people, call it what it is; a BUST is a BUST. Let’s all just own up to the fact that McKay just flat out missed on this one. Chauncey Davis deserves to start, Sidbury as backup. period.

BravesFan79

August 26th, 2009
10:02 pm

Braves: Could be worse. you could be from a state like AL where the only thing to root for is the biggest farce of a sport on the planet. Aka… college football. Ever read the sports section of the newspaper in AL? its Terrible!… all they talk about is highschool football…. even in the offseason.
Im excited about the Falcons this year. I think the Patriots and Falcons will have the best 2 offenses in the NFL!

BravesFan79

August 26th, 2009
10:05 pm

I watched the games last year, and do not know of this Jamal Anderson you speak of. Last Jamal that was worth remembering led us to the Super Bowl in 98.