The second week of the NFL season was an improvement for Steven, but his team wasn’t as lucky.
In the first home game of the year, No. 39 and the Rams lost, 41-13, to the defending Super Bowl champions, the New York Giants.
Steven had a productive outing on Sunday, logging 53 yards rushing on 13 carries and 37 yards through the air with a team-high seven receptions.
As in Week 1, the Rams were forced to abandon the run after digging themselves an early hole. Of the 99 plays called in the game, only 31 were running plays — despite SJax averaging over four yards per carry.
MORE ACTION FOR JACKSON?
When Steven led the league in rushing in 2005, he averaged 22 carries a game. This year, he’s only getting about 13 rushing attempts per contest.
After the loss, offensive coordinator Al Saunders again vowed to stay with the running game longer, and give Jackson an expanded role.
While SJax isn’t asking for an expanded role, he’s excited about the prospects of getting more carries next week in Seattle, and perhaps even doubling his carry total. Saunders is happy to accomodate:
“We have to get the ball to our best player, No. 39,” Saunders said. “He hasn’t run the ball enough, and we need to make sure that we establish our run so that opponents can’t tee off in obvious passing situations.”
“Steven’s a special back,” he continued, “but I don’t care who you are, it takes time to get into the flow.”
Jackson admitted he needs more carries to build a rhythm.
“I’m not one of those scat-back guys where two or three carries will do it for me; I need my chance to get a feel for a game and wear defenses down,” he said. “We’ve just got to get that flow of the offense and put together long drives and get into the red zone and score.”
Despite starting off the season 0-2, SJ remains confident that he can help the Rams turn it around with the help of Saunders.
“This offense is proven around the league…Wherever Coach Saunders has been, his offense is normally among the top in the statistics, passing and rushing,” he said. “We like to use the (term) ‘chopping the wood.’ If we keep chopping the wood, eventually we’ll have our breakthrough game.”
SJax and the Rams travel to Seattle next week to play the Seahawks. With so much talk from Saunders about sticking to the ground game, expect him to use his best player, No. 39, early and often.
Action for Jackson (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Sept. 19, 2008)
Steven Jackson (Rotoworld, Sept. 19, 2008)