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  1. #1
    RockinRam's Avatar
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    Pressure Point: Preserving Jackson

    By Matt Williamson
    Scouts Inc.





    St. Louis is counting on Steven Jackson. He is needed. He is needed in many ways for the Rams to approach respectability.
    Jackson is a great player. He is one of my favorite running backs in this league and is one of the true bell cow runners left. But I also think that a few years from now, Steve Spagnuolo is going to look back at his rookie year as a head coach and regret putting Jackson through the punishment he endured in 2009.


    I hope Spagnuolo learns from his mistake last season, but something tells me we should expect more of the same in 2010. That puts Jackson under the spotlight, as the short-term fate of the Rams' offense rests firmly on his shoulders -- and on his now surgically repaired back.
    My fear is that there will not be a long term. Let's face it; the Rams are not going to win the Super Bowl this season. They are rebuilding. And if/when they finally do become a contender, running back may be a major need because Jackson is spending his best days grinding out yardage on a terrible team.
    With their massive investment in Sam Bradford, the Rams must have a ground game. Their offensive line is young and talented. It should be improved from a year ago.
    Not only is Jackson the Rams' best player, but a solid running game is a rookie quarterback's best friend, and Jackson's receiving ability out of the backfield should provide Bradford with an exceptional and reliable option when the original play doesn't go according to script. Jackson can do it all well, including running on the perimeter or up the middle.
    But the Rams, with or without Bradford as the starting quarterback, are not going to frighten many defenses with their passing game. Every defensive coordinator on the schedule is going to key on shutting down Jackson first and foremost. St. Louis lacks dangerous pass-catching weapons and Jackson will face a stacked box far more often than not.
    That takes a toll on a running back's body. Not only is he going to take a lot of hits, but he is going to get hit often by multiple defenders at once. Obviously this is true for all ball carriers, but more so for Jackson considering his circumstances.
    Is this offseason surgery the beginning of the end for Jackson? Often when a running back begins to lose a step, the decline is very rapid. Last season, he didn't break long runs like he once did, and if this trend continues, the writing might be on the wall.
    With the huge number of needs St. Louis has in its rebuilding project, it is understandable why the Rams have gone in other directions instead of acquiring a backup running back for Jackson, but this massive hole on their roster could really hurt the franchise for the long term. The lack of a suitable backup running back might lead to the erosion of the Rams' best asset.
    That might be jumping the gun -- and some running backs will hit the open market before opening day -- but I just hope St. Louis is very careful with how it uses Jackson. For example, Jackson's back spasms to finish the 2009 season now seem rather dubious, and having him tough it out in Week 17 is a perfect example of how not to prolong the running back's shelf life.
    Still, I love the way Jackson plays, and as of right now, I would put only Adrian Peterson and Chris Johnson clearly over him in my running back rankings. Jackson is a resource that must be preserved.


  2. #2
    Bralidore(RAMMODE)'s Avatar
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    Re: Pressure Point: Preserving Jackson

    I love all these "Jackson is all the Rams have" articles...While I don't agree at all, I do agree that he is a major part of what we are.
    If our line becomes dominant in the run blocking department, Jackson will not be as needed as everyone thinks he will. I love Jackson but the guy is not irreplaceable. As of now he is, but in two years he will be expendable if our rebuilding has gone according to plan.
    You don't need a great running back to be a great team, you need a great line, great QB, and a decent running back (or a set of running backs); unless you have a dominating defense. A great running back is an added bonus. Hopefully Jackson holds up another 4 years but if he doesn't, the sky isn't falling, he'll just have to get replaced with one of the MANY great runners that come out of college annually.
    If Sam Bradford and our offensive line play up to potential in upcoming years, we will be able to do like the great teams do and plug-and-play running backs.

    Naturally, however, it would be great to preserve Sjax for as long as possible by decreasing a few carries and either adding another back or increasing the amount of carries an ogbonnaya receives in a game.

  3. #3
    NJ Ramsfan1 is offline Registered User
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    Re: Pressure Point: Preserving Jackson

    I wholeheartedly agree with the basic theme of this article- which is the Rams need to be judicious with their use of Steven Jackson or he will burn out in very short order. Because Jackson is the Rams main offensive threat and Sam Bradford cannot be expected to put this team on his back this season, this is no easy task.

    On top of that, the Rams did not address this issue in the draft, choosing instead to try and fill their many other needs. The Samkon Gado's of the world aren't what's helpful here. It is therefore imperative that the Rams go out and get a Justin Fargas or some such similar player to spell Jackson for periods of time to keep him fresh and throw a curveball at the defense.

    Being a running team is fine. But that philosophy will take a toll on your franchise back if you don't get him some help.

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    TylerBishop is offline Registered User
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    Re: Pressure Point: Preserving Jackson

    SJax is something special, all the coaches in the NFL think very high of his skill set.

    We would be stupid to think that with a good line we could see equal running success. Stats show teams that add a RB do better than those that add a lineman.

  5. #5
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    Re: Pressure Point: Preserving Jackson

    While I love Jackson and think he is one of the best rb's in the NFL the Rams future does not rely on him. Look around the league. How far did Chris Johnson get the Titans? How far were the Farve less led Vikings going with Peterson being their main threat? While I think Jackson is a very important peice to the Rams offense the success hinges on Bradford being successful. If Bradford isnt successful the Rams wont be successful. I dont think the Rams defense is good enough to bring the Rams wins on their own. Jackson had a great year in 09 and the Rams won 1 game. Bradford needs to be the man he is said to be for the Rams to start winning again. So the o-line better become a good pass blocking line as well as a run blocking line because we need Bradford upright and seeing the field and making good decisions. Faulk won a title and i bet if you asked him he'd tell you he wouldnt have without Warner running the show. I've never watched a Superbowl and said to myself wow that running back took this team on his back the whole season and won that team a championship. There is always another peice to the puzzle making that team great. Some may say Terrell Davis but would he have done what he did if Elway had retired before he arrived in Denver I doubt it. So while I love Jackson and love seeing him have success the Rams are going to need Bradford to play well before they start putting wins together.
    Just Fix It

  6. #6
    AvengerRam's Avatar
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    Re: Pressure Point: Preserving Jackson

    The Rams will be better off if Jackson stays healthy.

    Thanks for the scoop.

  7. #7
    TheRammer Guest

    Re: Pressure Point: Preserving Jackson

    Make no mistake about it Jackson is our only proven offensive threat that we have. As of right now he is the most important part of our offense. You might think Bradford is? nope..Steven will be the reason and huge determining factor of Sam's success and development by taking the pressure off of him, getting more defensive players in the box, play action fears , picking up blitzes and being the safety net for Sam out the backfield.
    In other words football is a team sport and no one player can do it on their own but I think Steven will have the biggest say in how we do at least at the beginning of the season than Sam being the man and the mainstay ofthis offense from the get go.
    Last edited by TheRammer; -05-15-2010 at 01:13 PM.

  8. #8
    RockinRam's Avatar
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    Re: Pressure Point: Preserving Jackson

    Quote Originally Posted by AvengerRam View Post
    The Rams will be better off if Jackson stays healthy.

    Thanks for the scoop.
    Surprisingly, some people do not know that.

  9. #9
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    Re: Pressure Point: Preserving Jackson

    This coming year a great running game will be very essential to our success whether it involves Jackson or not. Jackson is a great running back so it will likely involve him being an essential part this year. Great running backs are bonuses however, not essentials as has been proven annually by the Saints, Colts, Steelers, Giants. I can go all day. A great QB and offensive line is much more important than a great runningback.

    "We would be stupid to think that with a good line we could see equal running success. Stats show teams that add a RB do better than those that add a lineman."--TylerBishop

    Really? Where are these stats that show this? The stats tell me that offensive lineman routinely get picked higher than running backs every year. Why? Because without a line, you don't play offense. Simple. You see great running backs all the time because everyone wants to play it and their are plenty of athletes out there who only need a hole to bust off 100 yard games weekly. If you can't block you can't play. Which is why a great line is at more of a premium. Believe it or not, Jackson's running success was due to his skills and our offensive line's run blocking. Notice how Jackson's play fell off when our line fell off. We weren't good at pass protection all year, but we were pretty good at run blocking and that was a strength as well as our running game as a whole.

    People like to call SJax this big threat. Which he is to an extent. But 4 touchdowns in a season don't equal this big threat on paper. Defenses would let Jackson rack up all these yards but how many times did he get in the end zone? When I played defense, the ultimate goal was to keep the other team out of the endzone. If i had to sacrifice yards underneath our 5 yards here, or 10 yards there, so be it. Let the workhorse run out of gas racking up these small gains, as long as he doesn't sniff that endzone. And Jackson rarely sniffed it for all the admirable work he put in.

    Great offensive line and a Great Qb is what this team needs above all else. If we can get those two than we will be able to get away with mediocre backs and still win plenty of games. As long as you withhold the threat of the run then your passing game can take over the game.

    Peyton Manning and Deuce Staley is way more threatening than Barry Sanders and Charlie Batch.

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    SanDog's Avatar
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    Re: Pressure Point: Preserving Jackson

    It's just hard to believe that on a team that went 1-15, that has holes all over the joint and everyone knows it, that had one of the worst offenses in the team's history in a season where SJ tore it up, would get as much flak as they did from the front office for not addressing BACKUP RB.

    I think there's a lot of fans losing perspective on how difficult it is to build a roster. I also think the St Louis media members that cover the team are some of the nation's worst; not only is the coverage bad, but the ridiculous overreactions lead me to believe they all base their opinions off the message boards.

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    detrigg is offline Registered User
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    Re: Pressure Point: Preserving Jackson

    I kinda feel bad for SJax...he is going to have spent his entire career playing for a horrid team. Would be nice to deal him, get some serious picks and make the rebuilding session official.

  12. #12
    TylerBishop is offline Registered User
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    Re: Pressure Point: Preserving Jackson

    You can form opinions all you want but espn did a huge article on it right before the draft (im digging the article up as I type). It showed that teams who had the option of adding a RB or a new OT or OG, and added a RB showed better rushing improvement than those who added the lineman.

  13. #13
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    Re: Pressure Point: Preserving Jackson

    Quote Originally Posted by SanDog View Post
    It's just hard to believe that on a team that went 1-15, that has holes all over the joint and everyone knows it, that had one of the worst offenses in the team's history in a season where SJ tore it up, would get as much flak as they did from the front office for not addressing BACKUP RB.
    Running backs are human and they often have a short life span. Take a look at Shaun Alexander of the Seattle Seachickens. The man was a beast for like a good 4-5 years. Than next thing you know it, bam! He's basically a broken man.

    Running backs are probably the easiest position to fill in the NFL, especially a back up rb. A feared back will take a lot of pressure off a young QB like Bradford becuase the defense wont be able to blitz on every down for fear of the back breaking a big yardage play.

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    Re: Pressure Point: Preserving Jackson

    Quote Originally Posted by mikhal5569 View Post
    Running backs are human and they often have a short life span. Take a look at Shaun Alexander of the Seattle Seachickens. The man was a beast for like a good 4-5 years. Than next thing you know it, bam! He's basically a broken man.

    Running backs are probably the easiest position to fill in the NFL, especially a back up rb. A feared back will take a lot of pressure off a young QB like Bradford becuase the defense wont be able to blitz on every down for fear of the back breaking a big yardage play.
    And with Bradford as our qb and if he does well enough, maybe now teams won't stack the box and take a little pressure off jackson, but Jackson never had a problem with that anyways.. So we'll see just how well he does this year!

  15. #15
    Bralidore(RAMMODE)'s Avatar
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    Re: Pressure Point: Preserving Jackson

    The key for us will be finally getting our offensive respect back. Teams stack the box every play. If we start making their arses pay for the disrespect they'll have to reconsider. We get blitzed every play and don't take advantage of it. Once we start having that receiver who dominates one on one coverage, those blitzes will definetely ease up.

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