June 12, 2012; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Rams running back Steven Jackson (39) runs a drill during minicamp at ContinuityX Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-US PRESSWIRE
On Tuesday, St. Louis Rams running back Steven Jackson told PFT Live that he anticipates 25-30 touches" per game. At first, the number seemed a little high, especially since the Rams drafted Isaiah Pead. Over at ESPN's NFC West blog, Mike Sando looked back at Jeff Fisher's history with Eddie George, and noted that Jackson's prediction might not be so far fetched after all.
In 116 career games, Jackson had 47 games with at least 25 touches. He has at least 20 carries in 80 career games, and when you take away the 2004 season when he and Marshall Faulk split time, the number goes up even further. It mirrors George's career, almost identically.
Fisher's preference for a conservative, run-based offense means plenty of work for both Jackson and Pead.
Something else to consider is offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, who also leans toward a more conservative approach to the offense.
With the Jets in 2009, the first year with Mark Sanchez at quarterback, Schottenheimer's offense fed the ball to Thomas Jones a whopping 331 times in 16 games, an average of 20.7 carries per game. Rookie Shonn Greene, carried the ball 108 times in 14 games, and Leon Washington had 72 carries in seven games.
Washington led the running backs in receptions with 15. Jones had 10.
In 2010, Greene carried the ball 185 times in 15 games. LaDainian Tomlinson had 219 carries in his first season with the Jets. LT also caught 52 passes, and Greene another 16.
In 2011, Green had 253 attempts in 16 games; LT had just 75 in 14 games as the 32-year-old running back struggled in what would be his final season.
The key here might be how comfortable the Rams are with Sam Bradford. The Jets ran the ball a total of 607 times in 2009, Sanchez' rookie year. In 2010, it was closer to even. In 2011, they passed the ball roughly 100 times more often than they ran it.
Bradford has more ability than Sanchez, and leaning on the former USC quarterback too heavily did not work well for the Jets. The Rams have serious questions on the the offensive line, which could mean running more often than throwing. However, the Rams also have a bevy of tight ends and an OC that loves to use the tight end as well as two running backs with a demonstrated ability to catch the ball. Jackson will see the field plenty, and some of those touches could come with increased targets in the passing game.
How much the Rams do run the ball will be interesting to watch. Fisher has a well known affinity for putting the run at the center of his offense. The trouble with that approach is that it just does not work well in the contemporary NFL.