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  1. #1
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    Sando: Reassessing Steven Jackson's role

    Reassessing Steven Jackson's role
    August, 4, 2011
    By Mike Sando

    Projecting Steven Jackson's role within the St. Louis Rams' offense became a little trickier once the team added two experienced backs in Cadillac Williams and Jerious Norwood.

    The Rams had fewer viable options at the position in past seasons, forcing Jackson to carry a heavier load. Not that Jackson was complaining. He wanted to be on the field, and fans sometimes wanted him carrying the ball even more. But when the Rams did give Jackson a rest, and especially when they lost him to injury, backups such as Kenneth Darby, Keith Toston and Chris Ogbonnaya did not necessarily command respect from opposing defenses.

    Jackson will still get the vast majority of touches among Rams running backs. Williams and Norwood have had injury problems in the past, but they should be fresher when called upon this season because Jackson will remain a focal point on offense. Williams started nine games in Tampa Bay last season, but he was best known as the Bucs' third-down back as LeGarrette Blount emerged. The speedier Norwood could factor on kickoff returns. He has also lined up as a slot receiver in years past.

    I suspect the Rams added Williams and Norwood primarily because they weren't comfortable with their other backups stepping into the lineup as starters if an injury sidelined Jackson for stretches. Williams has been an every-down back, so he could carry the load on early downs in a pinch. Norwood projects as a change-of-pace backup with special-teams value.

    Jackson has averaged better than 1,300 yards rushing and 48 receptions over the last two seasons. He set a career high with 90 receptions in 2006. He wants a bigger role in the receiving game and thinks new offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels can help make that happen.

    "Thatís definitely part of my game that I've been missing the last couple of seasons," Jackson told reporters early in camp, before the team added Williams and Norwood. "I'm looking forward to having that challenge, proving to the rest of the league that Iím more than just a downhill, first- and second-down kind of running back. I think if anyone could help me re-establish myself as a franchise back, an all-around back, I think Josh will do that."

    Since 2001, when McDaniels began his NFL coaching career with New England, his teams have produced 1,000-yard rushers only twice. Corey Dillon (1,635 yards) and Antowain Smith (1,157) both reached that mark with New England. Also during that time, Kevin Faulk owns the highest single-season receptions total for a running back with 58. He had 507 yards rushing that season. Faulk is the only running back with more than 37 receptions in a season for teams featuring McDaniels as a coach.

    Of course, McDaniels has never worked with a back quite like Jackson.

    This will be a storyline to follow all season for the Rams. Questions abound. Is Jackson declining and would he benefit from fewer carries? Will McDaniels funnel more of the offense through quarterback Sam Bradford? Will Williams or Norwood siphon off touches from Jackson?


  2. #2
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    Re: Sando: Reassessing Steven Jackson's role

    I, for one, love it when Jackson catches the ball in the secondary and gets to run over a CB.

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    Re: Sando: Reassessing Steven Jackson's role

    McDaniels has some very nice issues to deal with. Really who cares about the stats of individuals? It's all about the W's!

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    Re: Sando: Reassessing Steven Jackson's role

    The reason why only two of New England RB's have only two 1,000 yards under McDaniels is because they have to constantly rely on multiple RB's. Their backs either get injured or just plain suck, Lawerence Maroney being a perfect example of the one who sucked.

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    Re: Sando: Reassessing Steven Jackson's role

    I am excited to see how this plays out as well. Where will McDaniels find time for Cadillac? 3rd downs? I love having SJAX out there on the money down where you need the best players out there. Norwood can return kicks, and can be thrown a couple carries a game. Cadillac I'd love to see him out on the field, though I don't want SJ to lose carries because Cadillac is out there.

    All in all, I still want to see SJAX get 20 carries a game.

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    Azul e Oro is offline Registered User
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    Re: Sando: Reassessing Steven Jackson's role

    Quote Originally Posted by sosa39rams View Post
    I am excited to see how this plays out as well. Where will McDaniels find time for Cadillac? 3rd downs? I love having SJAX out there on the money down where you need the best players out there. Norwood can return kicks, and can be thrown a couple carries a game. Cadillac I'd love to see him out on the field, though I don't want SJ to lose carries because Cadillac is out there.

    All in all, I still want to see SJAX get 20 carries a game.
    I can't agree with that at all. Reducing carries for SJ by running a more diversified attack will be critical for this team to be playoff contenders,imo.
    Which do you want more; SJ adding a couple of hundred yards to his totals but exhausted and beat up in January after 320 carries(16x20) or reducing his load by 3-5 plays a game & have The Beast roaring into the playoffs?

    Some of the reduction can come from giving him more receiving opportunities but some will have to come from other RBs.

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    Re: Sando: Reassessing Steven Jackson's role

    One of the most frustrating things last year was seeing S Jax on the sidelines during huge third down attempts. Not sure where the "3rd down" back came from, but I want my best back on the field for those third downs. I get that a "3rd down back" is supposed to be your pass catching back, but S Jax has shown that he is a more than capable receiver.

    What if Jax got a rest on 2nd down, and the Rams introduced Cadillac as the first ever "2nd down back"? That way you keep 39 rested yet on the field during critical moments of the game. Quick, someone give me McDaniels' number

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    Re: Sando: Reassessing Steven Jackson's role

    SJ39 is no longer a spring chicken. Less work here and there will do him and the team wonders. If this comes down to the last 3-4 weeks and we need to run it out to win division, great to have a fresh (as compared to last few years) SJ39......

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    Re: Sando: Reassessing Steven Jackson's role

    Quote Originally Posted by Azul e Oro View Post
    I can't agree with that at all. Reducing carries for SJ by running a more diversified attack will be critical for this team to be playoff contenders,imo.
    Which do you want more; SJ adding a couple of hundred yards to his totals but exhausted and beat up in January after 320 carries(16x20) or reducing his load by 3-5 plays a game & have The Beast roaring into the playoffs?

    Some of the reduction can come from giving him more receiving opportunities but some will have to come from other RBs.
    Yeah I would love for SJAX to lose 5 touches a game. I want to see the ball in Cadillac's hands a couple times, and same with Norwood. I was touching upon what C-Mob was saying though, I want to see my best player out on the money down.

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    Azul e Oro is offline Registered User
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    Re: Sando: Reassessing Steven Jackson's role

    Quote Originally Posted by sosa39rams View Post
    Yeah I would love for SJAX to lose 5 touches a game. I want to see the ball in Cadillac's hands a couple times, and same with Norwood. I was touching upon what C-Mob was saying though, I want to see my best player out on the money down.
    And C-Mob makes an excellent point. When a graybeard like Hanifan notes that your run play design/playcalling is primitive and predictable as he did last last year, you're in trouble. If Softli is right & one of McD's strengths as an OC is using surprise(throwing from run sets & vice-versa) & forcing a D to respect all options, we can hope to see all kinds of confusing havoc, inc CW on 2nd down. CW also has a good rep as a pass blocker as well as a receiver which just adds to the possibilities for which a D has to account.

    I'm watching the Den vs STL game right now & there's all sorts of trickery going on in the run game; extra OLers, pulling guards to one side & then running the other, reverses to WRs out of running sets. Pretty fun stuff....now that it's gonna be our team doin' the trickeration,that is.

    Another notable from the Den game: the deep comeback by Lloyd was a bread & butter play. The guy has decent speed but it was his ability to stop & change direction quickly & really go after the catch that got him so many passes. Pettis ? Amendola?

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