Steven Jackson The Key To Better Pass Protection?

St. Louis Rams running back Steven Jackson will see his workload increased this week. That news comes as a huge relief not only to fans, but to Rams QB Sam Bradford as well. Establishing the running game behind running backs Steven Jackson and Cadillac Williams will be a big help in taking some of the pressure off Bradford. 

Lopsided losses aren't the most alarming stat for the St. Louis Rams right now. The numbers that should have everyone concerned are 11 and 59. Bradford has been sacked 11 times, and is on pace to be sacked 59 times, a number that would be a franchise record, no small accomplishment for a team that once had Mike Martz calling the plays. 

Establishing the run early in the game would accomplish a couple things for the Rams this week. First, it would force the defense to back off just a little, keeping Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan out of the backfield. Last year against the Redskins the Rams ran the ball well enough to set up successful passing plays at key moments. That feeds into the second part of establishing the run in that it would hopefully prevent the Rams from finding themselves in third-and-long situations, even though they seem to pass fairly successfully in those situations. Still, the Rams have been awful on third down and Jackson and Cadillac would help stem the bleeding. 

In week one, Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs did well running against the Redskins. In the first half, they averaged 5.08 yards on 12 carries between them. The problem was they just had 12 carries in a game the Giants lost all by themselves. 

Washington's defense clamped down in the second half, and  they sacked Eli Manning four times on the day. 

When the Rams run the ball, they're running it fairly well. The offensive line, for all their struggles in pass protection, has done a pretty good job of opening running lanes, thanks in part to some superb blocking help from Lance Kendricks. On the season Cadillac Williams is averaging 4.0 yards on 50 carries. Jackson's numbers are skewed because of his limited work, but they do reflect his big play potential. On six carries, he's averaging 13.2 yards. 

As I said yesterday, Jackson was the key to lifting a winless Rams over the hump last year, sparking a big win against Washington. Having him in the lineup should be just what the doctor ordered for an ailing offense. 

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