At age 29, Rams running back Steven Jackson is supposed to be getting dangerously close to hitting that proverbial wall. He’s supposed to be in decline. He’s supposed to be losing a step.
Someone apparently forgot to tell Jackson that.
These last couple games against the 49ers and Jets have been eye openers to those who considered #39 to be washed up. 182 yards rushing on 42 carries (an average of more than 4.3 yards per attempt) are quite impressive...especially given the defenses he’s faced.
There was one play that truly made my jaw drop a couple weeks ago in San Francisco. Needing a couple yards for a first down the Rams handed the ball to Jackson, who met star LB Patrick Willis in the hole. Jackson’s helmet actually ended up coming off. But that didn’t stop #39. Know what he did? He actually CARRIED Willis through the hole for a couple more yards.
Jackson looked completely deranged on that play. Like a mad man who was possessed. Almost as if he was fighting to show the world he isn’t washed up, as if he still has what it takes to be an elite running back in this league.
Granted, the Las Vegas native’s statistics for the season aren’t all that special. He’s averaging 3.9 yards per carry and isn’t even on pace to break 1000 yards for the year. He’s got just two touchdowns too.
So, no, no one would actually consider him to be among the league’s elite. He can’t compare to the likes of Adrian Peterson and Arian Foster. Expecting someone who takes a beating week after week, year after year, like Jackson to remain as explosive as he was in 2006 is unreasonable.
But he’s still beating defenders to the corner. He’s still running over larger, younger linebackers. He’s still effective picking up the blitz.
Most importantly, he’s still the unquestioned leader on this team. Rookies look up to him. They watch the way he handles his business and try to emulate him.
Jackson may not be around here for much longer simply based on the economics of the sport and how much he will cost them. Other teams, contending teams, just might be willing to pay a little more (or have the ability to pay a little more) than the Rams.
But that doesn’t change the fact that it’s very premature to consider Jackson finished. He’s running as hard now as he ever has. There is still plenty left in that 6’2”, 240 pound tank.