Bernie Bytes: How Will McDaniels Use SJ39?
Bernie Bytes: How will McDaniels use SJ39?
BY BERNIE MIKLASZ
Wednesday, January 19, 2011 12:40 pm
Rams running back Steven Jackson was pleased by the hire of Josh McDaniels as offensive coordinator. Jackson sent this tweet out over the Twitterverse on Tuesday night:
"Just got off the phone w/ coach McDaniels...I'm looking forward to working w/ him."
I tweeted Jackson (@sj39) a question: Is this the hire you wanted? He answered: "I believe he is a good hire. I'm looking forward to being involved in passing game as well as rushing."
Earlier in the day, when I spoke with Jackson, he said he hoped that no matter who the Rams hired as OC, he hoped to have more of a role in the passing game in 2011. (This was before Jackson knew that McDaniels was the choice.)
Jackson was at his best in 2006 when Scott Linehan made him an important component in the Rams passing game. Jackson caught 90 passes for 806 yards and 3 TDs. That was the year he rushed for 1,528 yards and 16 TDs and had a career-high 2,334 yards from scrimmage to lead the league.
And while Jackson has had solid pass-catching totals in subsequent seasons, he wasn't utilized as much as he should have been as a receiver. In 2010, Jackson caught 46 passes and averaged a nice 8.3 yards per reception. It was a bit puzzling as to why the Rams didn't get him out on the perimeter more as a receiver.
Jackson clearly hopes that will change under McDaniels.
When McDaniels called the plays and ran the offense at New England from 2005-2008, he got passes to the RBs. He had Kevin Faulk as a third-down specialist but used other RBs in the passing game. Corey Dillon and Patrick Pass combined for 73 catches in 2005, Patriot RBs had 87 catches in 2006. Faulk and the other backs had more than 60 receptions in 2007, and the RBs caught about 80 passes in 2008.
The Patriots also ran the ball more than you probably realized.
From 2005-2008 they ranked 7th in the NFL in rushing attempts and 11th in rushing yards.
This figures to bode well for sj39.
Or does it? As the head coach in Denver, McDaniels called the shots on offense and he didn't run it as much. The Broncos over the last two seasons were 22nd in rushing attempts and 23rd in rushing yards. McDaniels did get the ball to the backs in the passing game, especially 2009 -- and not as much in 2008.
The other thing is this:
Whether by necessity or choice, McDaniels has always deployed a running back committee. He hasn't relied exclusively on one back to carry the freight.
In 2005, Dillon led the Patriots with 209 rushing attempts and 733 yards. No workhorse numbers there.
In 2006, Dillon and Laurence Maroney shared the RB duties. Dillon had 199 carries, Maroney 175.
In 2007, Maroney had 185 runs but Sammy Morris and K. Faulk combined for 137.
In 2008, with Maroney hurt most of the way, the Patriots expanded the committee. Here's how they distributed the carries that season: Morris 156, Faulk 83, LaMont Jordan 80, BenJarvus Green-Ellis 74, and Maroney 28.
In 2009-2010 in Denver, Knowshon Moreno averaged around 215 carries per season, but McDaniels had Correll Buckhalter (90 carries per season), Lance Ball and other backs in the mix.
So it looks like Rams GM Billy Devaney had better get McDaniels some running backs to share some of the work with Jackson.
Unless, of course, McDaniels will take a different view of Jackson. McDaniels has never coached a RB that has Jackson's combination of power, speed, toughness and receiving skills.
It'll be interesting to see how McDaniels utilizes Jackson.
I don't think he'll waste him. But even if Jackson is the clear No. 1 back, the Rams need to bring in an alternative back, with speed, to add a different element to the running game. And to provide some real backup just in case Jackson begins to slow down.
Re: Bernie Bytes: How Will McDaniels Use SJ39?
I hate it when people see a guy's roster and think that's how he ALWAYS operates. Having said that, it wouldn't shock me at all if the Rams didn't bring in a veteran finally to help out Steven. Less carries by Steven but more production from the carries he gets and a longer career.