Wanna win, Rams? The answer is simple...Let Jackson RUN
By Jim Thomas
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Give Steven the ball. For the last two weeks, that message has resonated from the Rams' locker room loud and clear.
Following Steven Jackson's career-high 179 yards rushing Oct. 30 against Jacksonville, the expectation was that Jackson would again get a heavy workload in Seattle. Several Rams players openly lobbied for it last week.
But at the conclusion of the Rams' 31-16 loss Sunday in Seattle, Shaun Alexander of the Seahawks had nearly twice as many carries as Jackson - 33 to 17. Jackson finished with 70 yards on those 17 carries, although he also had five catches for 45 yards.
Veteran wide receiver Isaac Bruce was asked Thursday if he was surprised that the Rams didn't run the ball more in Seattle.
"Yeah, I was surprised," he said.
Offensive guard Adam Timmerman said: "We've got to be committed to it. Sometimes you're going to have plays where you don't get any yards. But you have to be committed to run the ball, and do it well. You're going to average 5 yards (by the end of the game), but you're not going to get 5 yards on every play."
Against Seattle, Timmerman said, "it kind of was our plan going in - to run the ball a little bit more. And we had some success, but we had a few tackles for loss. That's tough on the play-caller when you don't get positive yardage on the run game. But like I said, it takes commitment to stick with it."
In the aftermath of the mini-altercation between assistant coaches Wednesday, some observers theorized that tension over the use - or non-use - of the running game may have been behind the tiff.
At practice Wednesday, running backs coach Wilbert Montgomery made contact with offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild with what was either a shove or a slap, according to multiple sources.
It happened during a 9-on-7 rushing period, in which the Rams' first-team defense was practicing against a Rams scout team running Arizona rushing plays. The incident was prompted by a disagreement on how to use the fullback on a specific running play.
But it happened so quickly - and was over so quickly - that none of the assembled media saw it. (The media was shielded by a couple of dozen standing players standing in their line of sight at the time.)
Some players and coaches weren't aware of the tussle until after practice. In any event, Montgomery clearly isn't happy with his input in the offense according to team sources, and it briefly boiled over Wednesday.
For his part, Jackson wanted nothing to do with controversy Thursday, particularly on the subject of the running game. During his regular weekly radio segment Tuesday, Jackson expressed disappointment over his lighter-than-expected workload against Seattle.
But when quizzed on the subject Thursday, he said: "I kind of expected it. We kind of had to get guys back into the groove of things, and we wanted to try to stretch 'em out. We were going against the No. 1 offense, and we knew we had to put up points. So you couldn't expect to run the ball too much."
The Seattle game marked the return of receivers Torry Holt and Bruce, as well as quarterback Marc Bulger, from injuries.
Nine games into the season, the Rams rank 20th in the league in rushing offense. But only Arizona, which comes to the Edward Jones Dome on Sunday, has fewer rushing attempts this season than St. Louis - 201 to the Rams' 203. But the Cardinals have had offensive line problems all season, and they don't have the backfield threat that Jackson poses.
"You would always like to see him get 20, 25, 30-plus carries," Holt said. "That didn't happen (in Seattle). We would've loved for that to happen. But the situation is what it is.
"I think Coach (Joe Vitt) will make it a point to run Steven this week and run him often. We know if he runs the ball, and he runs the ball well, that gives us a better chance of winning the ballgame. And we need to win this ballgame. So I would assume that they would give him the ball a lot for us to have the opportunity to win this ballgame."
Vitt, the Rams' interim head coach, sidestepped questions on the running game Thursday. When asked if he wanted to run the ball more against Seattle, Vitt replied: "I don't want to talk about the Seattle game. The Seattle game's over. Let's talk about the Cardinals."
When asked if he wanted to run the ball more Sunday against the Cardinals, Vitt said: "We're going to take a long look at it (Thursday night), and a take a look at it (Friday)." http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/sports ... enDocument