What To Do at Running Back In St. Louis?

US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

I’m sorry Mr. Jackson, (ooooooh) I am for real. Never meant to doubt your running game, I apologize a trillion times. I don’t doubt it, but there are many that do. SJAX may not be a Ram in 2013. If he’s not going to tote the rock, then handing the torch to a guy who will may make some sense.

The Rams running backs have yet to find the end zone through the first six games of the season…something Steven Jackson - though not all that impressive - had already done twice through six games to start the 2011 season. The team finally got their first rushing touchdown of the season on Sunday, yet it came via a goal line QB sneak from Sam Bradford. For a team whose mainstay has been riding their workhorse Steven Jackson - has also seen serious inconsistency and underperformance from it’s receiver corps - and is now being coached by ‘run first’ Jeff Fisher, the running game has somehow become more anomaly than certainty.

Steven Jackson is the all-time leading rusher for the Rams, and he’s the epitome of what you want in a player, a teammate and a leader. Mr. Consistency. Rushing for 1,000+ yards for seven straight seasons is no easy task. Though a few seasons shy of folks like Emmitt Smith, Barry Sanders, Curtis Martin and Thurman Thomas, that’s the company he keeps. Hall of fame company.

The Rams, however, drafted two running backs in the 2012 draft. Steven is aging each and every day. It was a smart move on the Rams part. ’Succession planning,’ I believe it’s called. Utilizing the slew of draft choices they were awarded, the Rams selected Isaiah Pead in the second round and chose Daryl Richardson with the next-to-last pick in the entire draft. A bonus - as the Rams continue to pilfer the Jets for talent - was 6th round power back Terrance Ganaway. A crowd of talent, indeed.

Drafting these rookies, coupled with Jackson's wear, the decision to void his 2013 contract and less-than-impressive 2012 stats have folks clamoring for a youth movement. Hold up though, slick.

You might remember the first game in 2011 against the Eagles, where Jackson went off…two carries for 56 yards and a TD in the first quarter. He then went off the field for the remainder of the game and missed game two in it’s entirety. In his first five games last season, he totaled 290 yards. That’s… well… not great. He is, though. In true form, Jackson rushed for 855 yards over the remaining 10 games, and tallied 1,145 for the season. I see you, doubters!

Those ‘less-than-impressive 2012 stats’ for Jackson look like this:

Week Date Opp Rush Yds Avg TD Rec Yds Avg TD Lost Yds TD Yds TD
1 Sep 9 @DET 21 53 2.5 0 4 31 7.8 0 0 0 0 0 0
2 Sep 16 WAS 9 58 6.4 0 0 0 .0 0 0 0 0 0 0
3 Sep 23 @CHI 11 29 2.6 0 2 5 2.5 0 0 0 0 0 0
4 Sep 30 SEA 18 55 3.1 0 1 12 12.0 0 0 0 0 0 0
5 Oct 4 ARZ 18 76 4.2 0 0 0 .0 0 0 0 0 0 0
6 Oct 14 @MIA 12 52 4.3 0 3 28 9.3 0 0 0 0 0 0

…yea, still less-than-impressive. But whether or not you think that SJAX is cashed or not, at least in my opinion, is moot.

He accomplished the feat in 15 games last year, and with viable backup options this season could be better preserved, and still potentially join the aforementioned Thurman Thomas in eight consecutive 1,000 yard seasons. Could the emergence of one rookie - Daryl Richardson - spell the end of the streak for SJ39? His rush toward the record isn't headed that direction. Should it be?

It seems a double-edged sword, discussing Daryl Richardson and how he could/should be seeing more touches in the St. Louis Rams rushing attack. Let’s face it -- we’ve seen some very exhilarating plays from this young man.

In Week 2 against the Redskins and with Steven Jackson on the sideline, Daryl displayed his explosiveness in his debut. Bursting through two would-be tacklers, D Rich made his way down the sideline for 53 yards, showing off his agility, acceleration and speed in seconds. His big play potential is unquestionable. In Sunday’s matchup against the Dolphins, he reassured fans that he’s legit. The second run play of the game went for 44 yards, as he again exploded down the sideline.

Richardson has only been given the ball ten or more times in two games this season, and I just referenced them both. It didn’t take double-digit carries to see those aforementioned explosive plays, so what’s the thought process behind limiting his carries?

I understand that you’ve got a Hall-of-Famer toting the ball the majority of the time, but is Richardson not earning his respect and proving that he cannot also be a viable go-to option in this offense? The Carolina Panthers had two 1,100 yard rushers in 2009. At this point in the season, I would never expect those kind of results. But the ‘thunder and lightning’ approach is possible. More so, it’s proven…

Player Rushing Receiving Fumbles
Name Team G Rush Yds Y/G Avg TD Rec Yds Y/G Avg Lng YAC 1stD TD Fum FumL
C.J. Spiller BUF 6 60 453 75.5 7.6 4 13 141 23.5 10.8 32 9.3 3 1 2 2
Kendall Hunter SFO 6 41 227 37.8 5.5 1 4 29 4.8 7.3 12 5.5 1 0 0 0
Brandon Bolden NWE 6 43 234 39.0 5.4 2 2 11 1.8 5.5 11 4.5 1 0 0 0
Frank Gore SFO 6 87 470 78.3 5.4 4 10 59 9.8 5.9 15 4.9 2 0 1 1
Andre Brown NYG 5 38 198 39.6 5.2 3 6 40 8.0 6.7 14 6.5 1 0 0 0
Daryl Richardson STL 6 47 246 41.0 5.2 0 7 59 9.8 8.4 26 6.3 3 0 1 1
Jamaal Charles KAN 6 115 591 98.5 5.1 2 16 125 20.8 7.8 19 8.8 5 1 3 2
Ryan Mathews SDG 3 36 185 61.7 5.1 1 13 112 37.3 8.6 14 12.7 7 0 1 1
Ray Rice BAL 6 97 482 80.3 5.0 5 24 233 38.8 9.7 43 8.8 10 0 0 0
Ahmad Bradshaw NYG 5 92 449 89.8 4.9 3 10 86 17.2 8.6 20 10.2 3 0 1 1

For D. Rich, being given the ball ten or more times equals success. In the two games that he’s had double digit carries, he’s tallied 159 yards on 26 carries [6.1 yards per]. In the other four games, he’s only been handed the ball 21 times and 87 yards was the result [4.1 yard per]. The interesting thing about that last stat, is that 4.1 is a respectable figure. Especially considering that Jackson has rushed for 3.6 YPC to start the season with his longest carry being 23 yards, yet has 42 more carries. Is the right person being given the rock? Again, discomfort with the question for yours truly. It’s hard to question the franchise’s leading rusher, who rose to the occasion in 2011 and amassed over 1,000 yards.

I’m not sure that there’s a right or wrong, but there’s got to be a balance to the RB equation. The Rams, at least at this point, have not been able to find it. For these RB’s not to have found paydirt isn’t just unacceptable, it’s baffling. The Rams have the resources to find success on the ground even with a makeshift offensive line.

The Packers have given up 110 YPG in the ground game, and four rushing TD’s in their first six games. Opportunity knocks for the Rams running backs. When that door opens, I expect to see one of two guys busting through it...

If you’re pickin up what I’m puttin down,follow me @NoPlanB_

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