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Letters to Gordo: Jackson should shut up and run


BY JEFF GORDON
STLTODAY.COM SPORTS COLUMNIST
04/04/2006
Jeff Gordon 155px image for left column
Columnist Jeff Gordon
(E-mail a "Letter to Gordo")

In this corner of cyberspace, we’re pretty big fans of Steven Jackson. But we’ve also seen plenty of room for improvement still, so his demand for more touches hit us a little funny.

We’re glad Jackson wants to do more. But like so many other young Rams veterans, he needs to take that Next Step to get himself -– and this team -– where it needs to go.

Rams Nation generally agrees, judging from the electronic mail to the “Letters to Gordo” bin. Here is a sampler:


* * *

“I have to totally agree with you about Steven Jackson. During one of the last games of the season -- Rams on the opposition goal line, defense stacked to the inside -- an inside dive was called. Offensive line recognizes the stacked “D” and pushes EVERYONE inside. Jackson runs through the designated hole, resulting in a 2-yard loss. If Jackson recognizes the D, he bounces outside and scores. Marshall does this all the time because he understands the game. Steven has to grow his knowledge (and maybe his humility) and recognize that even as strong as he is, he can't score against a 2.000-pound mass of humanity.”

Clancey Duttlinger


GORDO: Conversely, Jackson occasionally pops outside and gets swarmed when hitting the designed hole for two or three yards would have been preferable.

Marshall Faulk is a tough act to follow, since No. 28 has an uncanny ability to read defenses and an instinctive feel for advancing the ball upfield. That is a Hall of Fame combination for sure.


* * *

“Couldn't agree with you more. Jackson needs to step it up a notch; I think he let his mouth get ahead of his actions, as is commonly seen in today's athletes. He has had several good performances, but not to the point where he should be talking of these matters as he does.”

Christopher Jackson


GORDO: He is just a typical young veteran in 2006. He has generally said and done the right things since coming to St. Louis. Calling for the ball more is not such an unusual thing.

But we also hope he understands what he still needs to do to become a perennial Pro Bowler like his predecessor on the job. It’ll be fun to watch what Scott Linehan does with him.


* * *

“Talk or play. I'm not used to a Rams player talking more about his own goals than the team goals. It's scary. Can this guy be good for the team or is he a Keyshawn Johnson or T.O. waiting to happen? Look at his quotes. 'My touches' and 'my breakout year.' He seems more concerned with becoming famous than with becoming a great player on a great team.

“I would love to see him have a breakout year, if it means another title. Looks to me that Coach Linehan is looking for someone else for third down, Marshall and now Tony Fisher. Is Jackson going to throw a fit if he gets pulled on passing downs? That may be the best for the team considering his suspect durability and pass blocking, but it seems like he won't see it that way, if it doesn't get him the Nike contract. He's going to be a third-year guy. Will he use that comfort level to settle into the team and learn his role or use it to whine about 'his' touches? Frankly, I'm a little worried.”

Mike Prater


GORDO: Again, he’s not a Meshawn or a Terrell Owens. He just doesn’t want to get lost in the shuffle on a given day.

Interesting, there were times when Faulk got lost in the Mad Mike shuffle and he seldom said anything about it. His post-game glower told the media types when he was unhappy, but he seldom expressed that. Marshall is old school. Steven? He is just another kid from the new school.


* * *

“If you can, please send this message to the Steven Jacksons of the world: Stop whining about the Martz regime. Haven't they read the papers? There's a new coach in town so they can stop quibbling about not getting the ball enough. It was hell going through last season, listening and reading about the slow and painful demise of the Greatest Show on Turf, yet he wants to drum up the same ol' same ol' and for what?

"When he had the perfect reverse setup on New York’s 5-yard line, what did he do? Throw the rock up in the air so Shaun McDonald could play hot potato with it. If you ask me, that was the turning point of the season. That was a game we should have won and Jackson threw it away. Furthermore, he keeps getting hurt and sits on the sidelines hoping he gets better. He should watch a replay of Jack Youngblood's playing on a broken leg in the Super Bowl. You don't sit and hope to get better. Just get in there and do what you're paid to do, which is to play hurt if you have to.

“I guess I'm sick and tired of the (stuff) that has been going on in the franchise. It’s time the Steven Jacksons focus on the positives, like having new coaches, a new system, and something to look forward to. In fact, he should be grateful Martz traded up to get him when nobody else did.

Damien Domingo, Kapolei, Hawaii


GORDO: That’s a fair point about the draft. Jackson’s stock dropped and the Rams eagerly drafted him to become their future feature back. Mike Martz got him involved right away and moved aside Faulk to make him The Man last season.

All in all, life’s been pretty good to Jackson so far in his NFL career.