Bernie Bytes: Steven Jackson Rolls On
Bernie Bytes: Steven Jackson rolls on
BY BERNIE MIKLASZ, Post-Dispatch Sports Columnist
Friday, November 18, 2011
* The Rams may be 2-7 but Steven Jackson is having another outstanding season. Since returning from injury on Oct. 16, the Rams running back has 583 yards in five games. OnlyDeMarco Murray (Dallas) has more rushing yards since Oct. 16. For the season, Jackson is ranked 9th in the NFL in rushing with 707 yards, and that's despite missing two full games and most of a third with a strained groin. You'd think that Jackson would be losing power after nearly eight NFL seasons and 2,018 bruising carries. But that's not the case. Of his 707 yards this season, 335 have been gained after contact with a defender. Jackson is averaging a career-best 5.1 yards per rush, and that includes an average of 2.4 yards after contact per carry.
* If tight end Lance Kendricks can return to the lineup Sunday vs. Seattle, it should help the Rams crank out sosme yards on the ground against a tough Seahawks run defense.Billy Bajema was signed a few years ago for his reputation as a run blocker, but truth is he is struggling mightily, routinely getting blown up on running plays. Our friends at Pro Football Focus have Bajema rated minus 9.9 rating as a run blocker. Yes, that's as bad as it looks.
* Good move -- at least for one week -- by the Rams' coaches, starting Tony Wragge at center in place of Jason Brown. Wragge gave the Rams some added toughness up front. And after Mark LeVoir replaced the injuredRodger Saffold at LT, he did a terrific job in the run game, grading out a +1.4 in the Cleveland win according to Pro Football Focus.
* The loss of CB Al Harris is a lot more damaging to the Rams than you may have imagined. Harris wasn't a starter at the beginning of the season, and was still dealing with the aftershocks of knee surgery. But injuries to Ron Bartell and Bradley Fletcher put Harris in the lineup and on the spot, and he played very well. According to STATS LLC opponents targeted Harris 26 times and completed only 11 passes against him; that "burn" rate of 42.3 percent is excellent. For context, consider these other burn rates among Rams' cornerbacks:
-- Justin King, 33 completions in 53 attempts, burn rate of 62.3 pct. Plus he's given up 6 TDs.
-- Josh Gordy, 14 completions in 19 attempts, a burn rate of 73.7.
-- Marquis Johnson, 4 completions in 8 attempts, a burn rate of 50.0
-- Fletcher had given up nine completions in 20 attempts before getting hurt. Bartell's 2011 numbers are meaningless, because he was injured in the first game of the season. But let's remember how good Bartell and Fletcher were in 2010; opponents completed only 47 percent of the 185 passes aimed at them. And between them, Bartell and Fletcher gave up only 6 TD passes all season. The Rams' present situation at cornerback is about as bad as it possibly could get because of injuries.
Moving On ...
* Here are some numbers on Rams QB Sam Bradfordthat I wasn't able to use in Thursday's column. They show the drop in performance over his last 12 NFL starts, compared to his first 11 NFL starts:
- First 11: 60.5 pct. completions, 17 TDs, 9 INT, 5.97 YPA, 82.0 rating.
-- Last 12: 56.7 pct., 5 TDs, 10 INT, 6.07 YPA, 68.8 rating.
-- First 11: 57.1 pct. completions, 7 TDs, 1 INT, 6.20 YPA, 90.7 rating.
-- Last 12: 46.3 pct. completions, 3 TDs, 1 INT, 5.08 YPA, 63.2 rating.
AGAINST THE BLITZ
-- First 11: 60 pct. completions, 6 TDs, 1 INT, 6.24 YPA, 88.6 rating
-- Last 12: 51.4 pct. completions, 4 TDs, 3 INT, 5.35 YPA, 67.7 rating
-- First 11: 52.5 pct. completions, 11 TDs, 2 INT, 85.0 rating.
-- Last 12: 33.3 pct. completions, 4 TDs, 3 INT, 44.0 rating.
Sam will be fine. I really believe an entire offseason with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels -- plus the addition of another playmaker or two -- will relaunch Bradford in 2012.
Put it another way: have you watched Mark Sanchez lately? If Bradford played QB for the NY Jets, we wouldn't be talking about this stuff. Bradford would be thriving. As I wrote the other day, he needs to play better. He needs to be more accurate. But those who ignore the negative factors around him just aren't being fair. Obviously those issues impact Bradford's play.
Re: Bernie Bytes: Steven Jackson Rolls On
The glaring stat here is the fact that in half the time, King has given up the same amount of TDs that Bartell and Fletcher combined gave up all of last year...