There's been more than enough talk about the St. Louis Rams' new offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and fresh young fellow QB Sam Bradford, but there hasn't been much said about the player who is the heart and soul of the Rams: Steven Jackson.
Ok, actually there was some chatter than an OC like McDaniels, with his emphasis on the pass, might reduce Jackson's role in the offense. However, McDaniels shot down that notion in today's conference call with the media.
After offering praise for the special talent that is SJax, McDaniels gave a few clues as to what Jackson's role will be as prominent as ever in the Rams offense.
He can beat you in the running game, he can beat you in the passing game, and he can create long plays. I really believe that your offense from one year to the next, one team to the next, you really form it around the people that you have. If you have one player that should have the ball in his hands 30 times a game that's what you should do.
Jackson is more than just a between the tackles runner. We've known that for some time. Remember, he did catch 90 passes in 2006, racking up more than 800 receiving yards. Since then, the rusty jalopy that was the Rams offense severely limited Jackson's role.
In 2008, McDaniels' powerful Patriots offense averaged 32.1 rushing attempts per game, fourth most in the league. The year before that, the Patriots averaged 28.2 rushing attempts per game, still among the league's top ten. With the Broncos, his offenses averaged 27.5 attempts per game, 14th most, and in 2010 they averaged 24.9 attempts per game, the outlier of the bunch. It's also worth noting that Denver was plagued with offensive line problems, as Rams fans may recall.
McDaniels' offenses have always used more than one running back, as anyone who ever picked up a NE running back for their fantasy team can tell you. None of those running backs were Steven Jackson.
It's hard to imagine the Rams not adding a running back to the mix this year, a move likely to happen regardless of who they hired for their offensive coordinator. And it's a safe bet that the new addition will pick up more carries than the Rams have been used to sharing with Jackson. That's not a bad thing, taking some wear and tear off Jackson's body and giving defenses some different looks.
Exactly what the Rams offense will look like with McDaniels calling the plays remains to be seen. One thing we do know is that Steven Jackson will not be marginalized in whatever that offense looks like. Would you really want the team to hire a coach that would do such a thing anyway?
Here's what Jackson had to say about McDaniels' comments on Twitter today:
RT @StullySTL: McDaniels described SJ39 as special & unique, not opposed to 30 carries per game. Paid him to say that haha (shh our secret)