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  1. #1
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    Jackson takes aim at a breakout season

    By Bill Coats
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    07/16/2006


    Steven Jackson's first season as the Rams' primary ballcarrier was generally forgettable.

    He did reach the 1,000-yard plateau, finishing with 1,046. But 12 other running backs topped that total. And Jackson's average of 4.1 yards per carry was bettered by 16 other full-time backs.

    Plus, Jackson provoked some doubts about his durability, as injuries (hip and sternum) kept him out of one game and limited him in a couple of others.

    Add in the Rams' 6-10 record, their worst mark since 1998, and Jackson acknowledged that he found little to celebrate. "No one wants to lose," he said. "With the talent we had in the locker room, we felt we were a lot better than 6-10."



    The gloomy days of 2005, when the Rams also endured an inelegant front-office feud that led to the firing of coach Mike Martz, no longer loom in Jackson's rear-view mirror. With training camp less than two weeks off and Scott Linehan in charge now, Jackson is feeling like a rookie again.

    "I'm approaching it with a focus of saying, 'This is me getting a new beginning,'" said Jackson, who will turn 23 on July 22. "I feel like I've got a chance to start my career over."

    Jackson, an Oregon State standout from Las Vegas, was the Rams' top draft choice (No. 24) in 2004, the first running back selected. As a rookie, he shared a job with Marshall Faulk; Jackson rushed for 673 yards on 134 carries, while Faulk collected 774 yards on 195 attempts.

    With Faulk, who hasn't topped 1,000 yards since 2001, suffering from chronic knee problems, Martz turned over the No. 1 slot to Jackson in '05. But Jackson bristled over his limited workload: His 254 carries were exceeded by 16 other backs, 10 of whom piled up more than 300 tries.

    Illness sidelined Martz after the first six games, but the Rams' approach wasn't altered appreciably under interim head coach Joe Vitt and offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild. And Jackson's frustration grew.

    "For whatever reason, I wasn't getting my appropriate touches," he said. A large part of the explanation lies with Martz's partiality to the pass: The Rams launched the ball 62 percent of the time last season. Plus, the still-productive Faulk - he averaged nearly a half-yard more than Jackson per carry - remained a tempting option.



    Substantial changes have occurred since: Linehan, former offensive coordinator in Minnesota and Miami, has replaced Martz; the chances of the sore-kneed Faulk playing in 2006 appear to be waning; and Jackson is feeling frisky after an offseason that didn't include a visit to an operating room.

    Jackson, who had arthroscopic knee surgery after his final season at Oregon State and following his rookie year with the Rams, said, "First time in three years I actually had an offseason. I feel pretty good now."

    That's fortunate, because Linehan is expecting the 6-foot-2, 231-Jackson to be a workhorse. As opposed to Martz's air-heavy attack, Linehan's offenses with the Vikings and Dolphins were reasonably balanced, with a 55-45 percent pass-to-run ration.

    Miami's top two backs last year, Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams, combined for 66 more carries than Jackson and Faulk, and produced 312 more yards. Those numbers have Jackson smiling.

    If Linehan is "going to use me in the way that he used Ronnie and Ricky, I feel like this can be my breakout year," Jackson said.

    Can Jackson respond without Faulk on hand for relief? Will he be able to withstand the pounding that 300-carry backs take? Linehan believes Jackson is primed, indicating that 25 carries a game could be a viable target number for him.

    "He's shown to be a mature pro in his approach," Linehan said. "He knows that he's got to practice like he's going to play, and you see him getting himself ready. That takes some time, and he's at that point, his third year, where he's ready to go."

    Jackson scoffs at questions about his sturdiness, noting that he didn't miss a game because of injury during three seasons at Oregon State in which he piled up nearly 5,000 yards on rushes and reception. He needs to improve his blocking, particularly blitz pickups. But Jackson, never lacking in confidence, believes that his time finally has come.

    "It seems like everyone is making me the focal point, which two years ago when I was drafted, that's what the plan was," he said. "We knew that eventually the team was going to be more geared and built around me, and now it seems like it's starting to come to the forefront."

    Quarterback Marc Bulger didn't dispute Jackson's conclusion. But he added a veteran's dose of perspective, too.

    "We hope so. But whether it's him or (wideouts) Torry (Holt) or Isaac (Bruce) or myself, who cares?" Bulger said. "If we're winning, I don't care if he gets 2,000 yards and I don't care if I get 3,000 yards passing. All we want to do is win."


  2. #2
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    Re: Jackson takes aim at a breakout season

    "We hope so. But whether it's him or (wideouts) Torry (Holt) or Isaac (Bruce) or myself, who cares?" Bulger said. "If we're winning, I don't care if he gets 2,000 yards and I don't care if I get 3,000 yards passing. All we want to do is win."
    I'd much rather hear this than Jackson's constant whining about "his touches".
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  3. #3
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    Re: Jackson takes aim at a breakout season

    I think people expect TOO much from Jackson! Hes 23 y.o. But im sure he'll do a lot more this season. Linehan is changing this offence alot! Hopefully Jackson will break tackles and get an average of 5-6 yards per carry!

  4. #4
    STLRAMSFAN Guest

    Re: Jackson takes aim at a breakout season

    Quote Originally Posted by RamWraith
    "It seems like everyone is making me the focal point, which two years ago when I was drafted, that's what the plan was," he said. "We knew that eventually the team was going to be more geared and built around me, and now it seems like it's starting to come to the forefront."
    Idiotic, Immature, non-T-E-A-M Statement that isolates him from the team and may start getting on the veterans nerves who have proven that they are super stars. This is still Bulger, Bruce, and Holts team until the immature brat shuts up and puts up. He has no business talking about this team revolving around him even if he ever decides to shut up and put up. There are far to many good and important pieces on this team for him to talk like that. He needs to worry more about blocking assignments then talking about who the team revolves around.

    Quarterback Marc Bulger didn't dispute Jackson's conclusion. But he added a veteran's dose of perspective, too.

    "We hope so. But whether it's him or (wideouts) Torry (Holt) or Isaac (Bruce) or myself, who cares?" Bulger said. "If we're winning, I don't care if he gets 2,000 yards and I don't care if I get 3,000 yards passing. All we want to do is win."
    Intelligent, Mature, T-E-A-M Statement that unites the team and rallies the team together. This is what has helped us during our winning was a true genuine team first attitude among our leaders on offense. They never talked about their own personal stats or the way they were used. Even though in many other offenses they would have been the lone standout stars on the offense.

    Our team can't live long with his immature statements and acts. He needs to clean it up in a hurry or we will need to dump him in the next year or two regardless of how good he becomes. It can be cancerous when an individual on the team blames his coaches (Martz), hangs signs above his locker about giving him the ball, and talks about how he is the focal point. You never hear those types of statements from Favre who has been the focal point of the Packers offense for a long time.

  5. #5
    coy bacon Guest

    Re: Jackson takes aim at a breakout season

    Quote Originally Posted by STLRAMSFAN
    Idiotic, Immature, non-T-E-A-M Statement that isolates him from the team and may start getting on the veterans nerves who have proven that they are super stars. This is still Bulger, Bruce, and Holts team until the immature brat shuts up and puts up. He has no business talking about this team revolving around him even if he ever decides to shut up and put up. There are far to many good and important pieces on this team for him to talk like that. He needs to worry more about blocking assignments then talking about who the team revolves around.

    I agree. I expect action Jackson to have an average year at best and prove to the world that he is an average back. I don't think he is as good as he thinks he is. And, I think his teammates have already begun to tire of drinking his whine. I think he will soon be enrolling in the school of hard knocks where they serve stewed crow for dinner.

  6. #6
    aff15loader Guest

    Re: Jackson takes aim at a breakout season

    give jackson some time and I am hoping he will come around, but with team mates with bulger holt and bruce he will be surrounded with the team mentaility. I remember the last game of the 05 season playing dallas and eventhough the season didn't mean anything at that point holt still motivated the team to play, thats what we need from jackson in the next few years, even when it appears we are down and out we can come back. Hell we saw that in the Texans game and Saints (not the best teams to compare but the rams did come back to win) No way do we need a TO guy just thinking all the time, am I getting enough touches on the ball?

  7. #7
    Nick's Avatar
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    Re: Jackson takes aim at a breakout season

    Linehan believes Jackson is primed, indicating that 25 carries a game could be a viable target number for him.

    "He's shown to be a mature pro in his approach," Linehan said. "He knows that he's got to practice like he's going to play, and you see him getting himself ready. That takes some time, and he's at that point, his third year, where he's ready to go."
    I love how no one quotes this when speaking about Jackson. How interesting that apparently comments from his own coach about his maturity, heavier work load, and work ethic have no weight at all.

    Could Jackson answer questions more diplomatically? Of course! Then again, not everyone's a diplomat, nor should they have to be. And believe it or not, that's okay. Not everyone has to give the canned pre-approved party line... or maybe they do, in the eyes of some fans.

    Me personally, as long as Jackson isn't creating problems in the locker room or disrupting the team with his comments, which we have absolutely NO indication is the case, then I don't see the problem everyone seems to have. Maybe some people just needed an offseason punching bag and picked the guy who isn't giving textbook answers to media questions. Interesting choice, but I'd suggest the Whiners instead. They're always good for it.

  8. #8
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    Re: Jackson takes aim at a breakout season

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick
    Me personally, as long as Jackson isn't creating problems in the locker room or disrupting the team with his comments, which we have absolutely NO indication is the case, then I don't see the problem everyone seems to have. Maybe some people just needed an offseason punching bag and picked the guy who isn't giving textbook answers to media questions.
    Agreed. When coaches or teammates let it be known that Jackson's comments are inappropriate, then I'll be concerned. Every indication from those that matter, most notably Linehan, is that Jackson is accurate with his statements and poised for success. They seem to get it, and that's good enough for me.

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    Re: Jackson takes aim at a breakout season

    (Quote)Quarterback Marc Bulger didn't dispute Jackson's conclusion. But he added a veteran's dose of perspective, too.

    "We hope so. But whether it's him or (wideouts) Torry (Holt) or Isaac (Bruce) or myself, who cares?" Bulger said. "If we're winning, I don't care if he gets 2,000 yards and I don't care if I get 3,000 yards passing. All we want to do is win."
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    I agree with Bulger on that. I do like my running backs having some attuide. Now let him prove it.
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  10. #10
    coy bacon Guest

    Re: Jackson takes aim at a breakout season

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick
    I love how no one quotes this when speaking about Jackson. How interesting that apparently comments from his own coach about his maturity, heavier work load, and work ethic have no weight at all.
    I don't know Nick. At this point in thyme, I expect Coach to say the right thing and stroke. I hear the coxswain. The sun has not risen yet and it's not time to ruffle feathers. It's just troubling to me hear a guy complain about not getting his "appropriate" touches. I think the comparison betw. Bulger's comment and Jackson's comment illustrates the real "mature" attitude.

    Now, OTOH, if Jacqueson can put up Alexander-like numbers this season then by all means touch him appropriately, and let him wear the mantle of maturity well.

  11. #11
    Nick's Avatar
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    Re: Jackson takes aim at a breakout season

    Quote Originally Posted by coy bacon
    It's just troubling to me hear a guy complain about not getting his "appropriate" touches.
    His reference for appropriate touches was in regards to the last regime, and was a sentiment echoed by Marc Bulger in a recent video interview.

    I just find it really funny how the fanbase in general has been screaming for more balance on offense for a while now, and yet now when it looks like we have it and have a confident back ready to take on that load, some are starting to complain about his perceived attitude.

    We finally have a coach who wants to run, a quarterback who acknowledges that they have to get the running back more involved, and a running back who is basically echoing what he's been told by the staff about being more of an offensive focal point, and fans give him heat for it.

    Just makes me laugh, that's all. Now, if Jackson doesn't produce and runs his yap about it during the season or afterwards, that's a whole other story. But these comments now are certainly not worth getting worked up over, especially when you consider that Linehan himself says Jackson has a mature approach and is really preparing himself for the season.

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    Re: Jackson takes aim at a breakout season

    Steven Jackson, for me, talks rather too much about himself and the extent to which he deserves to be the focal point of the offence for a man who has yet to prove that he is capable of carrying the load over the course of a season and rather stagggered over the 1000 yard line toward the end of last season.

    His career is in it's infancy granted, but that is precisely why, for me, he should take a rather more humble approach to his expectations for the coming season.

    To state otherwise leaves you in the realm of justifying the type of comments made by other players in the NFL who have the reputation for being ego-centric. The thing is most of those players who have that reputation have actually achieved something prior to their controversial utterings and that people put up with them because they can still produce.

    This not to say, and it has never been my position, that he never will achieve any of those things that he wishes for, it's just obvious that #39 has an inflated view of himself that doesn't tally with his performances so far. If his view of himself was justified by his previous performances I would bet a round of beers at the Bash that none of us would have an issue with him saying what he's saying.

    Possible..........probable, let's not go there.

    I wish him all the best for the coming season, always have. To defend his comments on the grounds that people are looking for a punch bag is a little bit of a reach.

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    Re: Jackson takes aim at a breakout season

    Steven Jackson, for me, talks rather too much about himself and the extent to which he deserves to be the focal point of the offence
    Maybe, I'm missing something, but I'm not seeing where Jackson says he "deserves" anything, as in he's somehow earned something. I read where coaches told him the offense would someday be centered around him. That's what the coaches told him, how is that his fault? I read where he thought they didn't run enough last year. Is there anyone other than Martz who thinks otherwise?

    He's probably a cocky little sucker, but I don't know any 23-year-old elite athletes who aren't. The coach says good things about him, the veterans say good things about him. I think we're making something out of nothing here.
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    Re: Jackson takes aim at a breakout season


    Steven Jackson, for me, talks rather too much about himself and the extent to which he deserves to be the focal point of the offence for a man who has yet to prove that he is capable of carrying the load over the course of a season and rather stagggered over the 1000 yard line toward the end of last season.

    His career is in it's infancy granted, but that is precisely why, for me, he should take a rather more humble approach to his expectations for the coming season.

    To state otherwise leaves you in the realm of justifying the type of comments made by other players in the NFL who have the reputation for being ego-centric. The thing is most of those players who have that reputation have actually achieved something prior to their controversial utterings and that people put up with them because they can still produce.

    This not to say, and it has never been my position, that he never will achieve any of those things that he wishes for, it's just obvious that #39 has an inflated view of himself that doesn't tally with his performances so far. If his view of himself was justified by his previous performances I would bet a round of beers at the Bash that none of us would have an issue with him saying what he's saying.

    Possible..........probable, let's not go there.

    I wish him all the best for the coming season, always have. To defend his comments on the grounds that people are looking for a punch bag is a little bit of a reach.
    This sums it up for me, I agree 100% with this, nice post Fat Pang
    Last edited by Rambos; -07-17-2006 at 11:17 AM.

  15. #15
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    Re: Jackson takes aim at a breakout season

    Quote Originally Posted by HUbison
    Maybe, I'm missing something, but I'm not seeing where Jackson says he "deserves" anything, as in he's somehow earned something. I read where coaches told him the offense would someday be centered around him. That's what the coaches told him, how is that his fault? I read where he thought they didn't run enough last year. Is there anyone other than Martz who thinks otherwise?
    Absolutely 100% correct. Just another example of people reading what they want rather than what's actually there, IMO.

    I love the off-season.

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