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Bernie: Jackson And Johnson Should Make For A Good Show

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  • Bernie: Jackson And Johnson Should Make For A Good Show

    Jackson and Johnson should make for good show

    Sports Columnist Bernie Miklasz
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    12/12/2009

    I'm looking forward to Sunday's game between the Rams and Titans for one reason: We'll be treated to an entertaining showcase of running backs. This should be a fun duel in Nashville.

    Tennessee's Chris Johnson (1,509 yards) and the Rams' Steven Jackson (1,206 yards) are the NFL's two leading rushers. They're getting it done with contrasting styles. Jackson is power-back thunder. Johnson is a speed-back streak of lightning.

    Jackson can ram his way over the tough terrain. He leads NFL running backs in broken tackles, with 21. He's second in the NFL in yards gained after contact, 683. Jackson's power bursts have led to 35 runs of 10 yards or more, most in the NFL. Johnson, a comet, has touchdown sprints of 91, 89, 85, 57 and 52 yards this season.

    Johnson is threatening to break the NFL's single-season rushing record of 2,105 yards, held by Eric Dickerson. And unless he goes down with an injury, Johnson will probably win this season's rushing title. He'll finish with more yards than Jackson.

    But I'd argue that Jackson has had the more impressive season for this simple reason: He's doing this under more difficult and excruciating circumstances. Everyone in the stadium knows Jackson will be getting the ball. He's the only playmaker on the Rams' offense. Opposing defenses can overload their front line to stop him, and Jackson gets pounded every Sunday. There's no relief from the hammering to his body.

    At least the Titans have a quarterback, Vince Young, who can make plays and keep a defense off balance with his strong arm and deft running ability. And at least Johnson, as a pure and elusive speed runner, can avoid some of the hits. The Rams have no way to keep the defense from jumping Jackson.

    Sunday's game should offer an example. Johnson has the advantage because he'll go against a Rams defense that's ranked 28th in the NFL against the run. The Rams have given up three runs of 50+ yards, nine runs of 20+ yards and 48 runs of 10+ yards.

    Jackson won't find much looseness in Tennesse's defensive alignment. He'll have to take on a Titans defense that's ranked No. 8 in the NFL against the run.

    Jackson has missed nine practices with a sore back, but on game day, he keeps on running. This will be his third consecutive game of playing with considerable back pain. And every time Jackson touches the ball, he'll be gang-tackled and rocked by the Titans.

    But Jackson keeps getting up. He keeps running. For all that has gone wrong for the Rams in 2009, Jackson continues to represent the one thing that's undeniably right. For all of the intense effort to beat him down and make him quit, no defense has succeeded in taking the fight out of No. 39.

    Jackson grinds away for a lost cause on a team that has lost 21 of its last 22 games. I wonder: Has there ever been an NFL player so consistently good on a team that's been so bad for so long?

    READING TIME,

    three Minutes

    Free Matt Holliday.

    I would not be surprised, at all, to see the Rams make a play for Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick after the season.

    We wish the best to Rams safety Oshiomogho Atogwe, who will have shoulder surgery and miss the rest of the season. He's a good player and a classy guy who will help turn this franchise around if he signs a new contract with the Rams.

    Here is some research from Randy Karraker at WXOS (101.1 FM): Having won only six games since the start of the 2007 season, the Rams are threatening to have the worst three-year record of an NFL team since the league switched to a 16-game schedule in 1978. The Rams are 6-38; the worst three-season record of 8-40 belongs to Buffalo (1984-86). Tampa Bay (1985-1987) went 8-39; because of a labor lockout the NFL had three games with replacement players and a 15-game schedule in '87.

    Rams quarterback Kyle Boller was included in Cosmopolitan magazine's survey of "Dating Tips From 10 Sexy NFL Stars." Asked what a woman might say to turn him off, Boller replied: "'Do you mind if I have a cigarette?' I've never been into girls who smoke." ... The St. Louis Blues 14 Fund, the team's charitable trust, awarded more than $200,000 in grants to 25 local nonprofit organizations during a reception Monday. And the 14 Fund is also teaming with The Magic House to create The BlueNote Zone, a hockey-themed exhibit that's expected to open in February.

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  • r8rh8rmike
    St. Louis Rams' Run Defense Will Get Severe Test
    by r8rh8rmike
    St. Louis Rams' run defense will get severe test
    BY JIM THOMAS
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    12/12/2009

    Steven Jackson and Chris Johnson have mutual friends and bumped into each other a couple of times last offseason.

    "We actually were supposed to get together and work out this offseason," Jackson said.

    But Johnson is from Florida and Jackson's hometown is Las Vegas. They couldn't make the geography work.

    "We just couldn't match any dates up to be able to train together," Jackson said.

    Even minus those joint workouts, things have worked out pretty well for both running backs. Sore back and all, Jackson leads the NFC — and is second in the NFL — with 1,232 yards rushing. Johnson leads the AFC — and the NFL — with 1,509 yards rushing.

    So Sunday in Nashville, it'll be the league's No. 1 and No. 2 ground gainers going head to head when Jackson's Rams meet Johnson's Tennessee Titans.

    "I think there's a sense of pride," Jackson said. "But Chris is having an unbelievable year. He's having a year I can only dream to have one day."

    Johnson is on pace to become the sixth running back in NFL history to rush for 2,000 yards in a season. He has averaged 126 yards a game so far; if he averages 149 yards over the final four games, he'll equal the NFL's single-season rushing record of 2,105 yards, set by Eric Dickerson of the Los Angeles Rams in 1984.

    It will be up to the 28th-ranked Rams run defense to make sure Johnson doesn't run wild on them at LP Field. For most Rams defenders — maybe all of them — Johnson will be the fastest back they've ever faced.

    "No question," defensive tackle Clifton Ryan said. "It's in the books, for life, that he ran a 4.23, whatever it was."

    (Johnson ran the 40 in a sizzling 4.24 seconds at the NFL scouting combine.)

    "The guy's fast straight ahead," Ryan continued. "He's fast laterally. He's got great vision. A patient runner. He doesn't fumble the ball much. He's up there in that upper-echelon class with Steven Jackson, Adrian Peterson and himself — those are the top three backs in the league. Each of them has their own great dimensions that they bring to the game."

    Obviously, speed is the X factor with Johnson. Any time Johnson breaks the line of scrimmage, he's a threat to go the distance. Before this season, no one in NFL history had more than three 85-yard touchdown runs in a career. Johnson already has three this season, with scoring runs of 91, 89 and 85 yards.

    "He's here for a minute, and he's gone the next," Tennessee quarterback Vince Young told St. Louis reporters. "That's just a God-given talent. Some guys either have it, or some guys don't. Obviously, you see that he has it."

    The Rams...
    -12-12-2009, 11:42 AM
  • VegasRam
    More love for Jackson... (Prisco)
    by VegasRam
    Here's the link. I couldn't figure out how to copy it since it was on two pages.

    http://www.sportsline.com/nfl/story/9481203/1
    -06-06-2006, 07:02 AM
  • Guest's Avatar
    Is Jackson among the NFL's Elite?
    by Guest
    09.02.2009 1:16 pm
    Is Jackson among game’s elite RBs?

    By Roger Hensley

    THE WATERCOOLER
    QUESTION: It’s been three years since Steven Jackson totaled 2,300+ yards rushing and receiving back in 2006. Two injury-marred seasons later, does Jackson still belong in the discussion as one of the game’s top running backs?
    JIM THOMAS
    WIthout a doubt. Jackson levels the playing field for the Rams. He’s one of only three NFL running backs with at least four straight seasons of 1,000-yard rushing yards entering 2009. (The others: Thomas Jones of the New York Jets and LaDainan Tomlinson of San Diego.) Jackson just needs to stay healthy. In each of the past two seasons, he has missed four games entirely and most of a fifth because of injury.
    BERNIE MIKLASZ
    Here are the stats: over the past three seasons, Jackson is 5th in the NFL in rushing yards, 4th in yards from scrimmage. That’s a Top 5 running back. But Jackson’s star power has dropped, nationally, for a couple of reasons. Primarily it’s health and the perception that he misses a lot of time because of injuries. (He has missed games, but the same is true of most RBs; only four backs had more rushing attempts than Jackson from 2006-2008). But as former NFL personnel guy Michael Lombardi said at The National Football Post, Jackson is a blue-chip talent who doesn’t have blue-chip durability. Moreover, Jackson’s employer has been so hopelessly bad over the last couple of years, it’s lowered his profile. Other backs — such as Steve Slaton in Houston — get more attention now. Jackson should reclaim that Top 5 status this season.
    BILL COATS
    No question that he does. Although he missed a total of eight games during 2007 and ’08, he topped 1,000 yards rushing both seasons and averaged 4.2 yards per carry. That’s only a bit off his ’06 pace of 4.4 yards per carry. Plus, he remained a receiving threat out of the backfield, with 78 catches. Jackson’s still the same guy; he just needs to stay healthy.
    JEFF GORDON
    A lot of top backs, like Jamal Lewis and Thomas Jones, are getting some miles on them. Others are having to share the load as more teams go with a two- or even a three-back arrangement. So, yes, Jackson is in the top six or seven RBs in the league. Despite his injuries he has stacked up 1,000-yard seasons. He is also one of the elite pass-catching backs in the NFL. He may never meet the expectations fans have for him, but he’s still superior to all but a few backs in the league.
    BRYAN BURWELL
    When healthy, Jackson certainly does belong in the conversation of the game’s top backs. He’s big, fast, strong and elusive, and he is in the best shape of his life and in a new offense that will highlight those skills.
    KEVIN WHEELER (Host of “Sports Open Line” on KMOX)
    Absolutely, yes. None of the injuries he’s dealt with have been the serious kind that saps a player of his abilities over time — no knee reconstructions...
    -09-02-2009, 02:46 PM
  • RamWraith
    Steven Jackson is hitting his stride
    by RamWraith
    By Jim Thomas
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    12/08/2006


    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,"...
    -12-08-2006, 01:35 PM
  • eldfan
    Bernie Bytes: Appreciating Steven Jackson
    by eldfan
    by Bernie Miklasz

    When Steven Jackson arrived in Earth City in 2004, the Rams were still a decent team. They'd go 8-8 and squeeze into the playoffs, winning a wild-card game at Seattle before getting ambushed at Atlanta in the second round. It was basically the last hurrah of what was left of the "Greatest Show" years. Marshall Faulk was still around, and Jackson could never be fully accepted as long as #28 was here.

    But as Faulk's knees gave out, Jackson took over. He also took over at a time when the Rams' franchise spiraled into a dramatic state of decline. Jackson was caught in the vortex. He piled up lots of yards, but with the team losing so many games, the production was downgraded or dismissed as largely irrelevant among the more ignorant Jackson critics.

    Which, of course, was nonsense. Blaming Jackson for the team's failure to win was silly. It's the equivalent of blaming him for all of the horrible draft picks and personnel decisions, or holding him responsible for Isaac Bruce, Torry Holt and Orlando Pace getting old. Because that's why the Rams turned into a bad team; star players left or slowed down or were physically damaged and the front office did a terrible job in replacing them. That wasn't Jackson's fault. If anything it made his performance even more remarkable. Because over the last few seasons, every coach, every coordinator went into a game against the Rams with only one thing to worry about: stack enough players in the box, and smother Steven Jackson. And he powered his way to extra yards, fighting to do what he could to help the team. Between 2005 and 2009, five seasons, Jackson averaged more yards from scrimmage per game (116.2) than any NFL player, even with the defense aligned with the solitary goal of stopping him. And yet we heard constant criticism of Jax in this town. It was strange.

    Granted, in Jackson's early years here, he was certainly a tad immature. He said some things he shouldn't have said. His contract holdout a few summers ago was ill-advised. And that's why so many fans refused to warm up to Jackson. But in the grand scheme of things, this was minor stuff. It's not as if Jackson was a bad person, or a rotten teammate. He was just, well, young. And probably frustrated to be donating his career to a lost cause.

    It's interesting to see how Jackson has evolved. He's become a tremendous leader under head coach Steve Spagnuolo. Jax has been a positive influence in his vocal leadership, and in his actions. Though last year's 1-15 record -- and a back injury -- probably had Jackson screaming inside, he never wavered from his commitment to be a forward-thinking Ram who could see daylight ahead. Jackson trained very hard. He's taken care of himself. He's put in extra time. Tuesday morning, on a day off, Jackson was at Rams Park, studying video of Sunday's opponent, Detroit.

    Sunday, Jackson gave the Rams 70 yards rushing...
    -10-05-2010, 12:51 PM
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