Jackson Hoping for Breakout
Jackson Hoping for Breakout
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
By Nick Wagoner
Clearly frustrated as he stalked off the field after another performance below his and the Rams’ lofty expectations and standards, running back Steven Jackson simply couldn’t hold it in any longer.
Jackson vented his frustrations like many players do, yelling on the sideline to nobody in particular. On Wednesday, he stood up before his teammates and issued an apology just in case anybody took Sunday’s outburst the wrong way.
“I didn’t want anything to get out of hand,” Jackson said. “I didn’t know how guys took it, so I didn’t want them read something and then think what they’re reading is true. I wanted to let them know from my heart and talk to them without being scripted – let them know how I felt and what happened and explain to them that there were no problems.”
Jackson’s apology was accepted with no questions asked by most of his teammates. Center Brett Romberg said he was proud of the way Jackson stood up and was accountable for what happened.
“The man was frustrated,” Romberg said. “He has high expectations, he’s an amazing competitor and falling short of any kind of goal he is setting is going to be frustrating on his part. He wanted to come over and voice his opinion and let us know what he’s thinking which is welcome. We just took with it and said forget about it man, let’s roll. We have another game to play this week.”
And with that, Jackson and the Rams turned the page and put their full focus on getting a ground game that finished with a flourish in 2006 back on track after a pair of performances that met nobody’s goals.
In the first two games of this season, Jackson has rushed for just 118 yards on 39 carries, an average of 3 yards per attempt, well below the bar Jackson set when he entered the season with a goal of reaching 2,500 yards from scrimmage.
Additionally, Jackson hasn’t been as much of a threat out of the backfield as he was in 2006, catching four passes for 39 yards. He also has yet to score a touchdown.
All of those numbers and, more important, an 0-2 record, mounted up to the frustration that came out in the final stages of Sunday’s loss to the *****.
“I think we all knew where he was coming from,” Jackson said. “He was just probably a little frustrated like all of us. I don’t think Steven needs to apologize to us because he is competitive and it wasn’t directed at anyone so I’m sure everyone accepts his apology. Personally I don’t think anything was necessary.”
What is necessary for the Rams to get into the win column, though, is a rejuvenated rushing attack that more closely resembles the one that steamrollered over Oakland, Minnesota and Washington at the end of last season.
Clearly Jackson established himself as one of the league’s most feared backs in 2006 when he led the league in yards from scrimmage and earned his first Pro Bowl trip. That Jackson ran low to the ground with his pads squared to the line of scrimmage more often than not.
That Jackson is still there, especially in the early parts of games. In the first quarter of the Rams’ two games this season, Jackson has 13 carries for 59 yards, an average of 4.5 yards per attempt. That number falls more in line with the Jackson of 2006.
But things have dissipated after that, as Jackson and the offensive line have struggled to maintain consistency.
“We’ve managed to continue to attempt to run,” coach Scott Linehan said. “We just have not been productive as the game’s gone on. We’ve been very good coming out of the gates.”
That can be attributed to a couple of key factors. Linehan is quick to point out that it’s hard to have a dominant running game unless someone is coming up with a few long runs every game.
According to offensive coordinator Greg Olson, the Rams refer to any gain of 12 yards or more as an explosive running play. So far this season, Jackson has just one of those, a 13-yard gain against Carolina in the opener.
In fact, the longest run by a Ram this season was a 14-yard scramble by Bulger, also against the Panthers.
Getting those types of runs and eliminating negative yardage plays (Jackson had eight negative carries, four in each of the first two games) would go a long way in helping the running game and the offense as a whole get back on track.
“One of our problems is we’re really lacking in explosive runs,” Linehan said. “That’s going to give you the chunks of yardage that give you a running game. I would take the lost-yardage plays in to account too. When you’re losing yards like we have in the second half, that puts a strain on you because now you’re in a second-and-long, potentially and third-and-long. We have to start finding ways to get longer runs. That’s a team effort. It’s not just opening the holes. We have to go to the right place, our schemes have to be good, and then we have to get down-field blocks to help spring our back.”
The other issue plaguing the running game has been a re-shuffled offensive line. Without left tackle Orlando Pace and right guard Richie Incognito, the Rams are without two of their best run blockers, particularly Incognito.
That has caused a major revamp with Claude Terrell, Milford Brown and Adam Goldberg working at various spots on the right side and Alex Barron shifting to left tackle.
Even with that, though, Jackson doesn’t want to use that as an excuse.
“You never know when it’s going to click or happen,” Jackson said. “We just want to get to the point where everyone is executing and we all know what each other is doing. That just takes repetition – getting to trust one another. Hopefully we’ll have that big play happen and have the momentum build up from there.”
And there is plenty of precedent for that momentum to kick into gear sometime in the near future. During Wednesday’s morning meeting, Jackson was quick to point out that the Rams have had success running with a reorganized line before.
With young linemen Romberg, Mark Setterstrom and Incognito in the middle of the line, Jackson had three of his finest games as a pro as he racked up 419 yards and six touchdowns on the ground behind an inexperienced line.
“Steven brought up a great point in the little meeting this morning,” Romberg said. “He said, ‘Look, the same thing happened at the end of last year and we all came together and had an awesome finish.’ So there’s no reason we can’t go in and do the same thing.”
By most? What does that mean?
Jackson’s apology was accepted with no questions asked by most of his teammates.
Re: Jackson Hoping for Breakout
Hoping??? Forget hoping it has to happen!!! period.
Re: Jackson Hoping for Breakout
My fantasy team agrees...
Originally Posted by laram0