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Thread: Bernie: What Would Losing Jackson Mean?

  1. #1
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    Bernie: What Would Losing Jackson Mean?

    Bernie: What would losing Jackson mean?

    4 hours ago • BY BERNIE MIKLASZ, Post-Dispatch Sports Columnist

    Take 5 on the Rams and Steven Jackson:

    1. If the Rams lose RB Steven Jackson, what would it mean to the team’s offense in 2013?

    The Rams would lose leadership, intelligence, toughness and consistent productivity. Jackson has churned out eight consecutive 1,000-yard rushing seasons, and that’s historically prominent.

    If Jackson signs with Atlanta or another Super Bowl contender that needs short-term bang at the RB position the Rams would be left with an inexperienced group at running back. On the surface that’s an unsettling prospect for a team that believes it can make the playoffs in 2013.

    As always, there’s another side …

    2. The plain reality: Jackson’s role has changed in St. Louis and his activity level is decreasing. Take a look at these numbers. I’m giving you the percentage of the team’s touches on offense that were handled by SJ39 since the 2006 season:

    2006 … 54.8 percent

    2007 … 37.3 percent

    2008 … 41.3 percent

    2009 … 51.8 percent

    2010 … 48 percent

    2011 … 43 percent

    2012 … 39.7 percent

    OK, a few notes on these stats: Jackson’s percentage of touches has decreased in each of the last four seasons … his 2012 of 39.7 percent of the touches was the lowest of SJ’s career when he’s played and started at least 15 games in a season… his previous low rate (37.3) was posted in 2007, when he played in and started only 12 games because of injuries.

    As much as I respect Jackson and would like to see him finish his career in St. Louis, I can’t sit here and ignore the obvious trend, which can be summed up in three quick points:

    A. Jackson played less in Jeff Fisher’s first season as head coach, and the arrow has been pointing down for several years now.

    B. Fisher prefers a more diverse mix at RB; he used a two-back rotation in his latter years in Tennessee and began to put that system in place with the Rams.

    C. Jackson wlll be 30 years old when the 2013 season gets underway.

    3. Another issue, which I covered in Sunday’s Post-Dispatch column, is Jackson’s diminishing breakaway potential. The Rams were one of only two NFL teams that failed to score on a TD run from 10 yards or longer in 2012. This is a big deal because Rams GM Les Snead wants to add more big-play potential to his offense.

    According to Pro Football Focus, Jackson had a breakaway percentage — defined as runs that gain 15+ yards — of 20.4 last season, which ranked 19th among NFL running backs that played 50 percent of the snaps. And that rate ranked 33rd among RBs that played at least 25 percent of their team’s downs.

    We can attribute some of this to blocking, or scheme. But that wouldn’t account for a number produced by Rams rookie Daryl Richardson, who had a breakaway rate of 34.7 percent in 2012.

    Jackson’s breakaway rate dropped more than 11 percent from 2011, when he had a run of 15+ yards on 35.3 percent of his carries.

    4. Question: It’s one thing for Jackson to go, but can the Rams reliably count on second-year backs Richardson and Isaiah Pead to carry a much larger share of the role in 2013? Obviously, we can’t draw any firm conclusions based on last season.

    Richardson did show good potential to bust out on longer runs, but defenses adjusted and he got little done over the final five games of the season (16 rushes for 24 yards.)

    Snead has consulted with the coaching staff at Cincinnati to learn more about putting Pead in position for success. The questions included: what plays work best for him? What plays don’t work for him? What buttons do you push to raise his confidence level?

    Over the weekend Fisher told reporters that he saw potential in Pead to be The Guy. Obviously the Rams think highly of this kid or they wouldn’t have drafted him in the second round, 50th overall.

    OK, what does recent NFL history tell us about the performance of second-year running backs?

    Over the last six seasons, 16 second-year backs have rushed for at least 1,000 yards. And two others have rushed for 900+ yards. The list includes 10 backs that did not reach 1,000 yards in their first year, only to crack it in Season Two.

    The names: Arian Foster, Ray Rice, Jamaal Charles, LeSean McCoy, Stevan Ridley, Ryan Grant, Jonathan Stewart, Rashard Mendenhall, Ryan Mathews, LenDale White. And four of the 10 carried the ball fewer than 100 times as rookies. Mendenhall had only 19 rushing attempts because of injury.

    5. The Rams can always draft a back: If Jackson leaves, the Rams will look at so-called power back Terrance Ganaway, who didn’t see action last season after being picked up from the NY Jets. The Rams like his potential. The Rams could also add to this group by signing a veteran free agent RB. And of course, they can use one of their draft picks to tab a rookie running back.

    The league has changed; backs don’t have to sit and wait and learn. They often receive immediate opportunities. Last year, Alfred Morris (Redskins) and Doug Martin (Bucs) had huge seasons rookie seasons. Morris had 1,613 rushing yards and 13 TDs. Martin had 1,454 yards and 11 TDs. Trent Richardson (Browns) rushed for 950 yards and 11 TDs. Three other rookie backs had 500 or more yards rushing in 2012.

    Three playoff teams received considerable production from rookie backs, including the champion Baltimore Ravens, who had Bernard Pierce as an excellent power-based alternative to the more elusive Ray Rice.

    Thanks for reading …

    — Bernie


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    Re: Bernie: What Would Losing Jackson Mean?

    I don't want S-Jax to go. I want him to retire a Ram.

    Having said that; if he leaves (bless him and Godspeed), then I truly believe that Pead/D-Rich/Gannaway can handle the load in this offense.

    The last thing I'd want is for the Rams to spend one of their high picks on a position that really won't increase the productivity of the team.

    Solidify the line.
    Expand the receiver corp.
    Grab a threatening TE.
    Acquire a centerfielder.

    All of these would elevate the team more effectively and efficiently than spending a high pick on a RB.
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

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    Re: Bernie: What Would Losing Jackson Mean?

    As long as he doesn't go to one of my hated teams(which thankfully tend to be set at RB), I wish him the best and hope that he comes back to retire as a Ram. It would be amazing if he spent his entire career in horns, but unless he sacrifices money to stay, I wish him the best wherever he lands.

    Exactly as Hub said, we would be much better off spending picks and money creating a solid offensive line, getting one or two new receiving threats(Eifert FTW), and getting a playmaking safety who can defend the deep ball that has killed us for years.

    I have faith in our young backs that they can carry the load if they need to, but the worst case scenario is that we spend 1.5-2M on a veteran back who has a few thousand less miles on his tires than Jackson does.
    I believe!

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    Re: Bernie: What Would Losing Jackson Mean?

    Quote Originally Posted by TekeRam View Post
    As long as he doesn't go to one of my hated teams(which thankfully tend to be set at RB), I wish him the best and hope that he comes back to retire as a Ram. It would be amazing if he spent his entire career in horns, but unless he sacrifices money to stay, I wish him the best wherever he lands.

    Exactly as Hub said, we would be much better off spending picks and money creating a solid offensive line, getting one or two new receiving threats(Eifert FTW), and getting a playmaking safety who can defend the deep ball that has killed us for years.

    I have faith in our young backs that they can carry the load if they need to, but the worst case scenario is that we spend 1.5-2M on a veteran back who has a few thousand less miles on his tires than Jackson does.
    IMO he deserves to go to a team that can win big and win now, and since the Rams are rebuilding that's not likely to happen in STL. In a few years SJax should be well over the hill; slowing down; and possibly PUTP. He deserves going out a winner and god speed if he leaves. He's given STL fans lots to cheer about and is a seemingly great guy.
    ManofGod likes this.

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    Re: Bernie: What Would Losing Jackson Mean?

    Quote Originally Posted by HUbison View Post
    I don't want S-Jax to go. I want him to retire a Ram.

    Having said that; if he leaves (bless him and Godspeed), then I truly believe that Pead/D-Rich/Gannaway can handle the load in this offense.

    The last thing I'd want is for the Rams to spend one of their high picks on a position that really won't increase the productivity of the team.

    Solidify the line.
    Expand the receiver corp.
    Grab a threatening TE.
    Acquire a centerfielder.

    All of these would elevate the team more effectively and efficiently than spending a high pick on a RB.
    Amen! Amen! And Amen!

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    Re: Bernie: What Would Losing Jackson Mean?

    I think what it really means is that it is Bradford's team. Wins and losses will come on his arm and how he can lead men on the field.

    If you look at a team like the giants, they lose Tiki Barber now Bradshaw and they are still considered a top contender because of their defense, Eli and the offensive attack as a whole.

    The Rams need to do this with the Oline, TE, and WRs -- runningbacks will come and go.

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    Re: Bernie: What Would Losing Jackson Mean?

    I agree with HUB. Our RB corps can handle the load if need be. Jax can and would still be a big contribution on the field if he stays with us, but I think between Pead and Richardson we have speed and catching ability, and Ganaway will help us block. It really shows how important and special of a player he is when we're talking about 3 guys it will take to fill the shoes of #39.

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    Re: Bernie: What Would Losing Jackson Mean?

    Quote Originally Posted by HUbison View Post
    Solidify the line.
    Expand the receiver corp.
    This needs to be done but I think RT is the only immediate must fill position. LG is secondary but I think they'll try another combo of 4-5 guys in training camp and let the winner play.

    Oddly, if the Rams let Amendola walk, the receiving corp could be worse than it was 2 years ago. We don't fully know what we have in last years draft class at the position.

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