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Steven Jackson is hitting his stride

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  • Steven Jackson is hitting his stride

    By Jim Thomas

    Steven Jackson has a number in mind, but he's not telling. At least not now.

    "When I hit it, I'll let you know," Jackson said last week. "I promise, I'll let you know."

    Those remarks were made prior to last Sunday's Rams game against Arizona, when Jackson topped 1,000 yards rushing for the second year in a row. Jackson enters Monday night's game against Chicago with 1,028 rushing yards. But that's not the magic number, either.

    "I'm not at that number yet," Jackson said. "But it's an even number, and hopefully by Week 17 we'll be there."

    Jackson may never make Rams fans forget Marshall Faulk. But with four games to play, he's putting up Faulk-like numbers. Jackson is on pace for 1,371 yards, which would be just 11 yards shy of Faulk's career-high 1,382 rushing yards for the Rams in 2001.

    Throw in Jackson's receiving yards, and he's on pace for 2,200 yards from scrimmage, a total Faulk surpassed only once in St. Louis with his NFL-record 2,429 yards from scrimmage in 1999.

    Safety Corey Chavous has played with and against some top flight running backs in nine NFL seasons with Arizona, Minnesota, and now the Rams. He ranks Jackson with the top backs in the game today.

    "He is, in my opinion, one of the top three running backs in professional football, if not the top back," Chavous said. "When you start looking at his numbers, and what he's been able to do."

    By the numbers, Jackson deserves to be mentioned among the game's elite backs this season. He ranks third in the NFL in yards from scrimmage (1,650); sixth in rushing yards; is tied for third in first downs gained (77); and is tied for third in receptions (72).

    Short yardage, you say? Jackson and Brandon Jacobs of the New York Giants share the league lead with 10 first downs on third-and-1.

    The only category where Jackson falls short of elite backs such as San Diego's LaDainian Tomlinson and Kansas City's Larry Johnson is touchdowns. Jackson has scored a modest six times this season, well short of Tomlinson's 26 or Johnson's 15.

    The biggest surprise with Jackson in 2006 has been his pass catching. He's on track for 96 catches, which would break Faulk's franchise record for catches by a running back — 87 — set in 1999.

    "I don't know if it's a surprise," coach Scott Linehan said. "It's kind of an untapped resource that I think has been utilized based on him playing full time now. He's taking full advantage of it."

    In terms of receptions, Jackson and Torry Holt form the top receiving tandem in the NFL, with 142 catches between them.

    "I approached this year knowing that I'm going to be the guy," Jackson said. "So I didn't want to come out on third down. I had to make sure I was catching the ball pretty well. It's carried over throughout the season. I've been able to make some guys miss in the open field, which has allowed me to get the yards in the receiving category."

    Because of his size — 6-2, 231 pounds — Jackson wouldn't seem to fit the mold of a receiving back.

    "Naturally, I'm a big back, so people assume that I'm just a downhill runner, hit the pile and move it for two or three yards," Jackson said. "So it's been good for me this year to show and display my receiving ability."

    Jackson needs to showcase all of his talents to earn his first trip to Hawaii. With Pro Bowl voting taking place next week, there remains no better showcase than "Monday Night Football."

    Pro Bowl voting can be curious and political. Jackson's main competition for a berth on the NFC squad seemingly comes from Frank Gore (San Francisco), Tiki Barber (New York Giants), Chester Taylor (Minnesota), and Thomas Jones (Chicago). Gore, Barber and Taylor currently have more rushing yards than Jackson.

    Obviously, there are better teams to pile up yards against than Chicago. But even though the Bears rank second in total defense, they are a modest 12th in rushing defense. Even so, Jackson expects tough sledding against a Bears defense that likes to stack the box on running downs.

    "I believe to reach 100 yards in this game, there's going to be a lot of 3-yard, 4-yard tough (carries)," Jackson said. "Taking a lot of shots. Hopefully, as the fourth quarter comes, we can wear those guys down and still have a chance to be a balanced offense. We want to get that done. I'm ready for it."

  • #2
    Re: Steven Jackson is hitting his stride

    What Jackson is doing more this year is lowering his shoulder's and running guy's over..A perfect example of this was his TD in Seattle when he carried 3 or 4 tacklers with him into the end-zone..He is a real power back and he seems to be learning and improving all the time..At least with all the problems we have we don't have to worry about the RB position..:l


    Related Topics


    • RamWraith
      Steven Jackson's numbers tell the story
      by RamWraith
      By Bill Coats

      AIMING HIGH • The running back exceeded by far his projection of 2,000 yards from scrimmage.

      BACKING IT UP • Rams coach Scott Linehan praises a 'commitment to having a great year.'

      Steven Jackson kept his promise.

      Earlier in the year, the Rams running back disclosed that he'd set two personal-yardage targets for this third NFL season. He wouldn't divulge them then, but he pledged to at the end of the year.

      After Sunday's 41-21 win at Minnesota, Jackson revealed that those numbers were 2,000 and 1,600 — as in 2,000 total yards from scrimmage and 1,600 yards rushing.

      "You shoot for the moon, and you never know what will happen," Jackson said. "I just came up a little shy."

      With a strong push — 545 yards in the last three games, all Rams victories — Jackson surged ahead of San Diego's LaDainian Tomlinson and wound up No. 1 in the NFL in yards from scrimmage. Jackson finished with 2,334 yards to Tomlinson's 2,323.

      Jackson's 1,528 rushing yards ranked him fifth in the league; Tomlinson was the leader, with 1,815.

      Although Jackson didn't come close to matching Tomlinson's record-breaking touchdown total (31), he did score seven times in the final three games and wound up with 16 TDs. Only Tomlinson and Kansas City running back Larry Johnson (19) found the end zone more often.

      "Steven backed up his commitment to having a great year and has taken his game to another level," coach Scott Linehan said. "He made improvement unlike anyone else in the league, in my opinion, from where he was going into the year to where he is now."

      At first glance, Jackson's preseason goals might have seemed ambitious. They required a significant upgrade over his previous highs — 1,366 total yards and 1,046 rushing yards, both achieved in 2005, his first season as the team's primary ballcarrier.

      But after getting 297 touches — 254 carries and 43 catches — in '05, Jackson was called on 436 times this year, with 346 carries and 90 catches. Overall, the Rams advanced 5.4 yards every time the 6-foot-2, 231-pound Oregon State product, a first-round draft pick in 2004, had the ball in his hands.

      A breakdown of Jackson's carries indicates that he consistently wore down defenses. His overall average per attempt was 4.4 yards, but he averaged nearly a yard more on carries 20 through 33 (his season high).

      "It was just a matter of allowing me to be comfortable and do what I'm used to doing," Jackson said. "I knew that given the opportunity to touch the ball 20 to 25 times a game, I'd be able to (emerge), and I think I've proven so."

      Jackson stressed that Linehan deserved credit for keeping his word to balance...
      -01-03-2007, 04:57 AM
    • RamsFan4ever
      Jackson's Versatility Adding To His Value
      by RamsFan4ever
      Jackson's Versatility Adding To His Value
      Saturday, December 2, 2006

      By Nick Wagoner
      Senior Writer

      It seems like just about every week the Rams defense has been forced to deal with one of the league’s top running backs. The superstar running back galaxy of LaDainian Tomlinson and Larry Johnson has marked the schedule.

      Even on weeks when the Rams looked like they were getting a break, they faced a developing star such as San Francisco’s Frank Gore, who has entered the stratosphere of the league’s top backs.

      But, as the season goes on, there is one back that the St. Louis defense is rapidly gaining an appreciation for and they don’t have to go far to find him. Following last week’s tour de force of running and catching, running back Steven Jackson has asserted himself as one of the top running backs in the league.

      In his third year in the league, Jackson is running harder than ever and seems to have matured and embraced all of the small things that go in to being a successful running back.

      “He comes out with an attitude every week,” defensive end Leonard Little said. “I think he’s one of the best backs in the league. There are some great backs in the league, but I think he’s up there with the best of them.”

      For those that haven’t seen him this season, the proof is in the numbers. Jackson is seventh in the NFL in rushing with 932 yards and six touchdowns. He ranks fourth in the league in total yards with 1,485 and is tied for seventh with teammates Torry Holt in receptions with 63.

      It isn’t to say that Jackson hasn’t been good in his first two years in the league, but it’s safe to say he has taken his game to a different level this year. When Jackson declared for the NFL Draft as a junior out of Oregon State, nobody questioned his speed or power. His bruising running style made him a candidate for a first-round pick.

      When draft day came, though, Jackson began to slide a bit because of a perceived lack of versatility. He caught 66 passes for 680 yards and six touchdowns as a Beaver, which should have helped him dispel any myths about his receiving ability.

      Still, as a 6’2, 231-pound running back, Jackson was viewed more as a pure runner than an all-around back.

      “I’m a big back so people assume I am just a downhill runner,” Jackson said. “It’s been good for me this year to show and display my receiving ability.”

      This year, he is doing everything he can to change that perception.

      Jackson put together a 13-catch, 133 receiving yard game against Kansas City on Nov. 5. Last week was perhaps Jackson’s finest performance of the season, rushing for 121 yards on 23 carries with nine catches for 71 yards.

      Along the way, Jackson jokingly referred to himself as a “big” Marshall Faulk. Of course, having to follow in the footsteps of Faulk...
      -12-02-2006, 04:56 PM
    • r8rh8rmike
      Thomas: Jackson Closing In On 1,000 Yards Again
      by r8rh8rmike
      Jackson closing in on 1,000 yards again

      Friday, December 16, 2011

      With 105 yards rushing Sunday against visiting Cincinnati, Steven Jackson would reach 1,000 yards for the season. At first, Jackson tried to downplay the feat at his regular Thursday media session.

      "It'll be nice to eclipse that," Jackson said. "But first things first. We've got to make sure that we execute the offense and get us in the flow of things. I'm pretty sure they'll be determined to stop the run."

      But reaching 1,000 yards in 2011 isn't really the story of what Jackson could accomplish against the Bengals. It's the fact that it would make it seven consecutive 1,000 yard seasons for Jackson. When that milestone was mentioned, Jackson went from somewhat disinterested to NFL historian.

      "Only five others have done it," Jackson volunteered, with a measure of pride.

      Close, but actually it's six other players who have seven or more consecutive seasons with 1,000 yards rushing. And what a list it is: Emmitt Smith, Barry Sanders, Thurman Thomas, and Eric Dickerson are all in the Hall of Fame; Curtis Martin is retired and became Hall of Fame eligible last year; LaDainian Tomlinson is still playing but is all but a Hall of Fame lock.

      "It's a special group to be a part of," Jackson said. "I think it shows that not only are you productive but you can sustain it season after season. I'm pretty sure those guys have played through injuries. It just marks that you're a tough guy, a gritty guy that a franchise can hang their hat on."

      So on a Sunday when former Rams great Marshall Faulk will be honored for his Hall of Fame induction and will be added to the Ring of Honor at the Edward Jones Dome, Jackson could achieve an impressive career milestone.

      Getting to 105 yards rushing Sunday won't be easy for Jackson, because the Bengals have a fast, snarling defense. Although they've struggled some lately, the Bengals still rank seventh in the league in run defense.

      "Very aggressive — that's what sticks out," Jackson said. "They have multiple looks where their secondary will be blitzing from different depths. And their linebackers are downhill and play with intimidation."

      No doubt Jackson would trade yards for more victories. As he completes his eighth season in the NFL — all spent with the Rams — Jackson has never experienced a winning season. The best he has done is 8-8 in 2004 and 2006. The only playoff games for him came as a rookie in '04, when he shared time with Faulk in the backfield and the Rams squeaked into the postseason as a wildcard.

      As his career has unfolded, surely Jackson has asked himself: Why did I have to be here at this time, with all this losing?

      "That was a question I asked myself maybe...
      -12-16-2011, 02:03 PM
    • MauiRam
      Pasquarelli on S. Jackson...
      by MauiRam NFL

      Monday, June 5, 2006
      Jackson has thrived when getting 20-plus carries

      By Len Pasquarelli

      Born and raised in Las Vegas, where both his parents worked in casinos, Steven Jackson realizes the unique relationship between numbers and odds.

      OK, so the St. Louis Rams' third-year tailback might not be the guy you want advising you at the blackjack table, as you're agonizing over whether to take another hit while holding 16, and his head usually spins over all of the confusing permutations of the roulette wheel. The fact is, if Jackson is down $100, he pretty much considers himself tapped out and heads home for the evening.

      But here's a winning parlay he understands well after only two NFL seasons: Give Jackson 20 carries, he'll get 100 yards, and the odds are pretty solid that the Rams will win.

      "I know what they're telling me in terms of how many carries they say I'm going to get. But I've heard those kinds of things before. I even went to [running backs coach] Wayne Moses the other day and told him, 'Now don't be teasing me. Don't be telling me what you think I want to hear just to pacify me.' "
      Steven Jackson
      "Now those are numbers," said Jackson, the Rams' first-round choice in the 2004 draft, "that are like magic numbers to me. Even I'd bet on those. And I'm not a very big gambler. I can't run with guys like [Charles] Barkley and that crowd. But, yeah, I know that those [represent] some winning numbers."

      Five times in his still fledgling NFL career, Jackson has logged 20 or more rushing attempts in a game. The results in those contests: an average of 130.6 yards per outing, 5.4 yards per carry, and five victories for the Rams. Of the team's six wins in 2005, half came in games in which Jackson was the offensive workhorse. Only once in the five contests in which Jackson got 20 carries did he fail to crack the 100-yard mark. Twice in those games, he had more than 145 yards, including a career-best 179 against Jacksonville on Oct. 30.

      Roll the dice with Jackson, a big back (6-foot-2, 231 pounds) with quick feet and nifty moves, and the odds are pretty good you won't crap out, as his brief league history indicates. And if offseason rhetoric emanating from first-year coach Scott Linehan means anything, the St. Louis offense expects to roll a whole lot of 7's with its starting tailback in 2006.

      Which is sweet music to the ears of Jackson, who often chafed in the past at the lack of carries he got under former coach Mike Martz, dismissed after a 2006 season in which he missed much of the season because of a bout with endocarditis, an inflammation of a heart valve. In 14 of 29 appearances in 2004-2005, Jackson had 10 carries or less, in part because of the...
      -06-05-2006, 09:56 AM
    • RamWraith
      "Jackson Close to Grand Finish"
      by RamWraith
      Thursday, December 27, 2007

      By Nick Wagoner
      Senior Writer

      The 1,000-yard mark used to have all of the proper cache to be the determining factor in how successful a running back’s season has been.

      In the modern era of the game, though, reaching 1,000 yards in 16 games doesn’t have quite the same swagger. At least not when it’s spread out over all of those games.

      In Steven Jackson’s case, though, reaching 1,000 yards for the 2007 season would be quite an accomplishment considering the circumstances.

      “I don’t think 1,000 yards is what it used to be,” quarterback Marc Bulger said. “Sixteen games I am sure Steven would tell you he would rather have 1,500 or something and that wasn’t his goal. I guess it would be good for our line to maybe say you had a 1,000-yard back but I’m sure our goals are higher than that.”

      Indeed, the goals for Jackson and the Rams offense are set well above the 1,000-yard plateau for the course of a season. But considering what Jackson has dealt with in 2007, the fact that he needs just 53 rushing yards against the Cardinals on Sunday to reach that mark is almost unbelievable.

      Coming off a tremendous 2006 season in which he led the NFL in yards from scrimmage, Jackson had high hopes for 2007, including a stated goal of 2,500 yards from scrimmage.

      All hopes to reach that goal vanished when Jackson suffered a groin injury on Sept. 23 against Tampa Bay. Although Jackson finished with 115 yards that day, the injury was severe enough to keep him on the sidelines for the next four games.

      Jackson returned on Oct. 28 against Cleveland and steamrollered the Browns to the tune of 41 yards on eight carries with a touchdown in the first quarter. But back spasms cost him the rest of that game and he did not return.

      With a bye week to rest, Jackson came back at full strength and has been running over, past and around defenses ever since.

      “I feel really strong with my groin and my back,” Jackson said. “I rehabbed it and worked out like crazy with it to make sure I could finish the season strong and look healthy like I am. Also, the (same) offensive line has been able to play together, three or four games (in a row). That in itself allows for some holes to be open as well.”

      Since his return on Nov. 11 against New Orleans, Jackson has posted 100 yards from scrimmage in all seven contests. His rushing average has skyrocketed to 4.3 yards per carry after he gained just 3.4 yards per attempt in the first trio of contests.

      “I was looking at some things for him,” Linehan said. “His average is right back there now, close to last year. He’s starting to warm up. He had the injuries, set him back. Without that he’s had a really good second half of the season. It’s meaningful to the (offensive) line, the offense and all of us. We go out and establish...
      -12-28-2007, 05:15 AM