Tempered optimism colors community projections for Steven Jackson

On the eve of the season's opener, I wanted to revisit the handful of community projections we had over the summer for members of the St. Louis Rams. Let's start with the big guy himself, Steven Jackson.

For all the talk about back surgery and the need for a backup running back, projections for Steven Jackson were very optimistic. Check out the average:

Rushing
311 carries, 1,397 yards and 9 TDs

Receiving
54 receptions, 445 yards and 3 TDs

Jackson had 324 carries last season, off the Football Outsiders danger zone indicator of 370 carries. In the two seasons prior, Jackson had just 253 and 237 carries, respectively. It's trickier projecting his rushing numbers this year because it stands to reason that the team will do more passing, more successful passing, with Sam Bradford at QB. If that's the case, it could reduce Jackson's rushing attempts. 

The Rams passed on approximately 54 percent of their offensive plays last year. Better components in the passing game should lead to more frequent usage. That could cut into a running back's carries, but it could make Jackson's receiving value go up over past years. 

1,397 rushing yards would be the third highest total of Jackson's career; he rushed for 1,416 yards last year, largely on the power of his own legs and force of will that would be the envy of any existentialist philosopher. With a better offensive line, healthier in particular, his totals could rise without an increase in carries, especially if defenses have to start respecting the passing game again. 

Jackson caught 51 passes last year for 322 yards and no TDs. That was his second highest total of receptions and his third highest total receiving yards. He had 379 receiving yards in 2008 on just 40 catches. I think if things go as planned Jackson would top our community projection for receptions and yards. Just look at Jackson's role in the offense in 2006 when he caught 90 passes for 800+ yards. The biggest difference between now and then, to me, is the lack of known commodities like Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt as receiving options. 

Those are the TST community projections for Steven Jackson. Thoughts?

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