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Thread: Rams get big lift from Jackson
Rams get big lift from Jackson
By Jim Thomas
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Saturday, Nov. 12 2005
SEATTLE — Steven Jackson's rushing totals have been building for a
while. Eighty-eight yards rushing Oct. 17 in Indianapolis. Next came 97 yards
the following week against New Orleans. And then 179 yards Oct. 30 versus
With Pro Bowlers Isaac Bruce, Torry Holt and Marc Bulger all sidelined with
injuries, the Jaguars knew all they had to do was muzzle Jackson and they would
stop the St. Louis offense.
They couldn't do it. Steven Jackson's career-high rushing total that day had
all the makings of a statement game.
"That's up to you guys," Jackson told reporters Thursday. "You guys are the
voice of St. Louis. All I know is that when I do have opportunities, I'm just
going to make the best of it."
The marquee back in Sunday's Rams-Seahawks NFC West showdown is Seattle's Shaun
Alexander, who leads the NFL in rushing yards (949) and leads the NFC in
touchdowns (14). But if Jackson can run the ball like he did against
Jacksonville, he will steal the spotlight from Alexander for one day at least
in the Pacific Northwest.
With his typical youthful aplomb, Jackson brushed aside a question about
whether he tries to pick up anything from watching Alexander.
"No," Jackson answered bluntly. "I just go and play the game. . . . I think
that's what's unique about me. And I think that's why the people love me.
There's something unique about me. We just can't figure out what it is."
There's no doubt Jackson's teammates love him - and his rushing totals.
"He's done well," offensive tackle Orlando Pace said. "He's a young player, but
he carries himself like he's been around the league for a long time, and he has
a tremendous amount of confidence. He wants the ball when he's in there. He
wreaks havoc on the defense."
Even with the return of Bulger, and quite possibly, Holt and Bruce from
injuries, it sounds like Jackson's teammates still want him to get the
football. Since Joe Vitt took over as interim head coach, and offensive
coordinator Steve Fairchild starting calling plays, the Rams have called 81
running plays and 80 pass plays in three games. That's the kind of balance
rarely seen during much of the highly successful Mike Martz tenure.
But was that balance a concession to injuries? Or is it the preferred victory
formula for Vitt and Fairchild? With Bulger, Bruce and Holt back on the field,
do the Rams resort to their bombs-away air attack?
"I don't think so," Pace said. "I think we've had success running the ball. And
over the course of the league, teams that have run the ball have the majority
of the success. That opens up things - our throwing lanes - for Torry and
Isaac, and those guys. So we just have to continue to run the ball and have
success doing it."
Bulger feels the same way.
When asked if the Rams will go back to more of a passing game now that he's
back in the lineup, Bulger replied: "Hopefully not, as of now. If we can run
the ball, why not do that? Obviously, we're going to throw the ball. We're the
Rams. It's probably still going to be more than most teams. But if you can get
Steven going . . ."
Getting "Steven going" can make the Rams offense less predictable.
"Why not be like Seattle, and not know what we're going to do?" linebacker
Chris Claiborne said. "Spread it. Throw it to Torry. Run it with 'Jack.' And
sometimes get down and bloody your nose.
"So we'll see. We'll definitely see. But you have to give '39' a chance to win
the game. And I think when we've given him a chance, he's responded."
Jackson, obviously, wears jersey No. 39. It would be a mistake to ignore the
talents of Bulger, Bruce and Holt. Although his shoulder's not 100 percent,
Bulger threw the ball well in practice all week leading up to the Seattle game.
Bulger's teammates have a great deal of respect for what he can do with a
football, and just his presence on the field Sunday should provide a spark.
When he returned from a similar injury late last season, the Rams won three of
their final four games, reaching the second round of the playoffs. Bulger's
passer rating was never lower than 97.5 in any of those four games.
So the best mix for the Rams offensively would be blending Jackson's thunder
with the lightning provided by Bulger and the passing game. It can be a potent
combination. That was never more clear than during the first quarter in
Indianapolis, when the Rams jumped to a 17-0 lead against the startled Colts
before Bulger left with his shoulder injury.
"That's exactly what we're looking for," Jackson said. "Hopefully, we can get
it going this week."
If they do, the Rams might just make this a pennant race after all.
-11-13-2005 #2RamsFan16 Guest
Re: Rams get big lift from Jackson
Good find man. Thanks!