Steven Jackson’s eighth NFL season came to a close on Sunday afternoon in St. Louis, but before it was over, SJ39 put one last stamp on another great individual year.
Steven rushed 16 times for 76 yards on Sunday to finish the season with 1,145 yards on the ground, seventh in the NFL. Unfortunately, the effort was not enough for the Rams to come away with their third win of the season, and they fell, 34-27, to the San Francisco 49ers. Still, S-Jax found some positives to take into the offseason.
“We really schemed them well this game,” he said. “They are a great run defense, a great defense overall. We were finding success, we had some running lanes and myself and Cadillac [Williams] were finding them and making the best of what they were giving us.”
With his 4.8 yards per carry on Sunday, S-Jax also upped his season average to 4.4 YPC, tying the highest mark he has hit since his rookie season. He was sixth in the league in yards per carry among backs with at least 250 carries this season. In fact, No. 39 ranked among the league’s elite backs in all categories this season despite missing almost all of three games early in the year.
Watch highlights of Steven’s season below:
In addition to his impressive rushing stats, No. 39 finished the season with 333 receiving yards. It was the fourth straight season and sixth time in his career that Steven finished with at least 300 yards receiving and 1,000 yards rushing. His 42 catches also ranked second on the team. Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels spoke highly of SJ after his first year coaching him.
“Steven’s been impressive to me from the first day I had a chance to work with him,” offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said. “He’s the best all-around running back I’ve had a chance to be around every day. He works hard, smart, he’s a multi-faceted player. He’s done a great job leading us.”
Despite the Rams’ record, Steven continued his string of strong seasons and was one positive for St. Louis. Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch believes he should be praised for that, digging up some stats showing that No. 39 ranks among the NFL’s elite:
- Since the start of the 2005 season, he leads the NFL in total rushing yards and is first in total yards from scrimmage. His average of 83.4 yards rushing per game ranks third since 2005.
- Since signing a big contract extension in the summer of 2008, Jackson ranks fifth in the NFL in total rushing yards, fourth in total yards from scrimmage, and is fifth with an average of 83.6 yards rushing per game. I don’t see a guy who has been content to sit on his paycheck.
For more from Miklasz on what makes Steven one of the NFL’s best at his position year-in and year-out, click here.
BICEPS OK AFTER HELMET HIT
Steven and the Rams got a scare late in the third quarter when No. 39 took a helmet to the left biceps muscle.
No. 39 exited the game and did not return, but x-rays on the arm were negative, ruling out any breaks or tears. Steven wanted to return, but the training staff ruled him out.
“I just caught the crown of a helmet to the biceps,” Jackson said. “I got X-rays on it and it came out negative, so we’re thinking it’s just a biceps contusion. I just kind of lost feeling in the arm there, so we wanted to be safe with it. Good thing it came out negative, though.”
Before the injury, SJ39 was well on his way to his fifth 100-yard rushing game of the season with 76 yards and 20 minutes to go.
END OF ANOTHER ERA
On Monday morning, as Steven and his Rams teammates cleaned out their lockers at Rams Park, coach Steve Spagnuolo called the team together to let them know that he had been relieved of his duties as Rams head coach.
After hearing the news, No. 39 told reporters that it was a tough day for the team.
“It’s never fun when you have the uncertainty of the offseason,” he said. “Once again, you have to … open yourself up to a whole new staff and allow them to learn you as you learn them. The process starts over and it’s not a fun one.”
Spagnuolo coached the Rams for three seasons and developed a close relationship with SJ39, the captain of the team and the longest tenured Ram.
“In this business, you know a decision was going to be made one way or another. I wasn’t quite sure what it was going to be,” SJ told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “Coach addressed the team this morning to let us know that he was terminated and he was sorry — especially for the guys that have been here the entire three years he was coach — that he didn’t get the job done. He took full responsibility. He really regretted that he couldn’t turn this franchise back around.”
Steven added that he believes Spagnuolo will land on his feet somewhere.
“I think he’s a good leader,” No. 39 said. “I think he’s going to be successful.”
As for the Rams, it’s back to the drawing board, but Steven said he is ready to be a part of what the next chapter holds.
“We’ve been working at it now for eight seasons and this is definitely not the result we want,” Jackson said. “When I say we, that’s the city of St. Louis. You just have to keep trying to figure out how to turn this around.”
PRO BOWL POSSIBILITY
Sunday was Steven’s last game of the regular season, but there’s still a chance No. 39 could take the field for one more Sunday later this month.
SJ39 was one of three Rams named as an alternate for the 2012 Pro Bowl, to be played on January 29, 2012 in Honolulu, Hawaii.
The three NFC running backs currently selected for the Pro Bowl are Chicago’s Matt Forte, Philadelphia’s LeSean McCoy and San Francisco’s Frank Gore. Both Forte and McCoy missed their teams’ final game of the season due to injury and are question marks for the Pro Bowl. Joe Richter of Missouri Sports Magazine believes that SJ39 is deserving of a nod to his fourth NFL All-Star game.
“Steven Jackson needs no introduction; he has been the heart of the Rams for some time now. Jackson’s seventh straight one thousand yard season puts him in the history books, but his one hundred yard rushing game against the Steelers in a lost cause shows how he isn’t history.”
- Rams salute Fans (StLouisRams.com, January 1, 2012)
- Clemens limps out as Rams rally late (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, January 2, 2012)
- McDaniels still impressed with RB Jackson (CBS Sports, December 29, 2011)
- Rams Have Three Pro Bowl Alternates (Missouri Sports Magazine, December 30, 2011) Rams fire Spagnuolo, Devaney (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, January 2, 2012)
- Spagnuolo praised as leader (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, January 2, 2012)
- Jackson: Never fun dealing with coach firings (CBS Sports, January 2, 2012)
- Steven Jackson 2011-12 Highlights (Diesel Productions You Tube, January 2, 2012)
- Bernie Bytes: Defending Steven Jackson (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, December 29, 2011)
- Rams’ players accustomed to change (Belleville News-Democrat, January 3, 2012)