Rams Running Back Not a Quick Study

By Pollack, Joe | St. Louis Journalism Review, May-June 2009 | Go to article overview

Rams Running Back Not a Quick Study


Pollack, Joe, St. Louis Journalism Review


Steven Jackson has been a professional football player for eight years, four at Oregon State University and four with the St. Louis Rams. But only now, as he approaches his ninth season, does he know what he is doing. Or so he says.

As a running back, and a first-round draft choice, Jackson is paid a lot of money to carry the ball and to catch the ball. He takes handoffs from Marc Bulger and runs around the defensive players. He also runs downfield on pass patterns practiced hundreds of times and turns around in time to catch a pass from Bulger, after which he runs with the bail.

Sounds pretty simple

Sorry....

As Jackson said, and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch printed in a story that ran last month, "Because of new running backs coach Sylvester Croom, Jackson says he's 'actually understanding the details on running a (pass) route.'

"I'm working on being a complete running back. I've said that in the past, but this year I'm really getting detailed coaching."

That means, I think, that he's learning the difference between running to the right and running to the left. Or he's learning which man in front of him--wearing the same colored jersey Jackson is--is a guard, and which one a tackle, so he can run between them, if that's the play Bulger calls.

This entire learning experience simply boggles the mind. And Jackson is the man who in the past has complained he has not been given the ball enough or enough good blockers to open holes for him to run through. If he doesn't know the plays, and that's what he seems to be saying, why would anyone give him the ball? And how would he know which way to run?

He is talked about and written about as a team leader. If he does not know the plays, how is he supposed to lead?

Of course, this is another--a really prime example of a star athlete blaming someone else for his shortcomings. Anything Jackson did not do right occurred because he was not properly taught--by the dozens of coaches who have worked with him for almost a decade.

Finally, he admits that while he does not know what he's doing, it's someone else's fault. Now that his career is on a downward slope (studies show that the active career of a running back is barely over five seasons), he realizes he didn't know what he was doing, even if it wasn't his fault, and he's setting up someone else to take the fall if 2009 is no improvement. …

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