Oct 14 2012; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; St. Louis Rams running back Steven Jackson (39) is tackled by Miami Dolphins defensive end Jared Odrick (98) in the first quarter at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-US PRESSWIRE

Quick Thoughts On The St. Louis Rams Decision To Keep Steven Jackson


Prior to the Thursday trade deadline, Steven Jackson was the hottest running back in the trade rumor circle. Green Bay, Dallas, and Arizona were all said to have been “talking” with the Rams about garnering the services of the veteran. However, Fisher announce on Tuesday that Jackson was our running back, which was backed up on Thursday night when the Rams all-time leading rusher was still on the St. Louis roster. Analysts from around the blog-o-sphere have weighed in on the “failed” trade of Jackson before the seasons end, most claiming that the team made a mistake in not shipping the player to a team contending for a Super Bowl or in exchange for a mid-round draft pick. Personally, I disagree with the notion that the St. Louis Rams would be better off without Jackson right now. Here are Ramblin’ Fans quick thoughts on the retaining of Jackson…

1. Jeff Fisher loves to have fast, powerful running backs… the key there being the plurality of “backs.” After the “Eddie George” era in Tennessee, Fisher always had two solid backs that split carries between 30-60 to 50-50, starting with  Chris Brown and Antowain Smith in 2004 (52-32). Fisher added an aging Travis Henry to the mix in 2006, LenDale Whitein in 2007, and Chris Johnson in 2008. In 2009, Jeff deviated from the 2-back philosophy, giving Johnson 72% of the carries, which led to the 2,006 yard season that gave him the nickname CK2K. However, there was also a substantial drop-off in wins once that change occurred, with the Titans dropping from 13-3 in 2008 to a mediocre 8-8 in 2009.

 

2. Daryl Richardson and Isaiah Pead are both rookies, still learning the game of football. There is no better teacher for the running back position than Steven Jackson.

 

3. Steven Jackson may not be putting up huge numbers between the tackles, but he is helping to put big numbers up on the outside of the field. Teams still stack 8 or 9 players to contain Jackson, which often leads to one-on-one matchups on the outside of the field. If you think Givens would have set the rookie record for consecutive games with a 50+ receptions without Jackson playing, you are sadly mistaken…

 

4. To follow that, defenses still have to game plan for Jackson, which takes away time they could be game planning to cover Givens, Amendola, or design blitz packages to destroy the left side of the offensive line. If you think teams are going to devote as much time just game planning for Daryl Richardson, you are, again, sadly mistaken…

 

5. Richardson is having an amazing rookie season so far, but is doing it with under 10 rushing attempts per game. The St. Louis 7th rounder is only 5 ft., 10 in. and weighs only 196 pounds. He will not be able to take the abuse of 20-30 carries per game like Jackson has for the last half decade.

 

6. Steven Jackson is one of the best receivers out of the backfield in the league, alongside backs like Ray Rice, Darren Sproles, and Reggie Bush. There are only 4 wide receivers on the team with more receptions than Jackson this season, who has 12 catches on 15 targets for 98 yards this season. Does Sam Bradford really need to lose another weapon on offense?

 

7. Steven Jackson is one of the best running backs in pass protection, bar none…

 

8. His 3.7 yards per carry may be poor in comparison to the rest of Jackson’s career, but is not that bad in comparison to the rest of the league. If you look at the Top 10 rushing leaders in terms of carries this season, 30% of those backs are averaging less than 4.0 yards per carry (Arian Foster 3.9, Shonn Greene 3.7, and Darren McFadden 3.3), while Jamaal Charles and Chris Johnson would be below 4.0 had it not been for their single-game performances against the Saints (233 yards) and the Bills (195 yards), respectively. Michael Turner, Trent Richardson, Jonathan Stewart, DeAngelo Williams, Mark Ingram, Fred Jackson, and the entire Arizona Cardinals backfield are averaging under 4.0 yards per carry this season as well.

 

9. In his last four games, Jackson has rushed 49 times for 208 yards. That is good for 4.2 yards per rushing attempt, which have come against two of the Top 10 rushing defenses in the NFL.

 

10. Jackson is rushing behind on of the most injury plagued offensive lines that the St. Louis Rams have ever had, and that is saying a lot given the history of the team in recent years. Rodger Saffold, Rob Turner, Scott Wells, Harvey Dahl, and Barry Richardson were the starting offensive linemen in Week 1. Saffold and Wells both have been on the sideline since Week 2, being replaced by Wayne Hunter and Rok Watkins. Soon after, both Watkins and Hunter got hurt, being placed by Shelley Smith and Joe Barksdale, two players that have never started a game in their NFL careers. Top that off with the injury to Danny Amendola, which essentially shut down the Rams aerial game outside of Chris Givens. I think 3.7 yards per carry under the circumstances is more than satisfactory…

 

11. Jackson has been as professional and loyal as any player in the NFL. If he wants to retire as a St. Louis Ram, then he has earned the right to make that decision. Plus, he is my favorite player…

 

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