Friday, November 2, 2012
Around the NFC West: Jackson's new role
By Mike Sando
Steven Jackson has played in all eight games through Week 8 for the third time in the St. Louis Rams' past four seasons.
The difference this season: Jackson is not playing nearly as much.
The three-time Pro Bowl running back has logged 62.2 percent of the Rams' offensive snaps, according to ESPN Stats & Information. That is down from 74.8 percent in 2010 and 90.7 percent in 2009.
The 62.2 percent figure matches Jackson's playing time for the games he participated in during the first eight weeks last season, when an injury limited him to two snaps in the opener and 20.9 percent of the snaps in Week 3. He has been healthier this season, but the Rams have changed how they play offense.
New offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer ran the offense through quarterback Sam Bradford to open the season. The Rams ran the ball a league-low 32.7 percent of the time in first quarters through their first five games, lowest in the NFL and down from 48.5 percent in 2011.
Jackson's role has changed further with rookie Daryl Richardson's emergence as a regular contributor. With 108 carries for 403 yards, Jackson is on pace to finish with fewer than 1,000 yards in a season for the first time since 2004, his rookie year. His 3.7-yard average per attempt would be a career low.
Richardson has 62 carries for 335 yards and a 5.4-yard average.
Jackson has 63 carries for 254 yards and a 4.0-yard average on first down. That compares to 31 carries for 166 yards (5.4 average) for Richardson.
Richardson also has three rushes of at least 20 yards. Jackson has two.
These are all things to consider when reading Jim Thomas' piece on Jackson as the trading deadline passed without incident Thursday.
As Jackson told reporters, "It's a huge adjustment, but I think the more you embrace change, it makes things for transition work a little easier. That’s why I try to do my best -- just be a veteran that I know I can be. Go out there, take advantage of the opportunity that's given to me, run hard, and show the young guys behind me how to be a professional on and off the field."
Rookie second-round choice Isaiah Pead hasn't played much to this point. He figures to get additional carries as the season progresses.