Steven Jackson: Projecting Rams RB's Numbers Against Stout Dolphins Run Defense

John RozumCorrespondent IOctober 14, 2012

ST. LOUIS, MO - SEPTEMBER 30: Running back Steven Jackson #39 of the St. Louis Rams runs the ball during the game against the Seattle Seahawks at the Edward Jones Dome on September 30, 2012 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Rams beat the Seahawks 19-13.  (Photo by David Welker/Getty Images)
David Welker/Getty Images

Steven Jackson and the St. Louis Rams face an immense challenge in the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.

For one, the Dolphins rank No. 1 in the NFL against the run by allowing just 61.4 rush yards per game. Additionally, Miami gives up only 2.7 yards per carry, which also ranks No. 1.

So, even though the Dolphins don't defend the run as much as some teams, Miami suffocates quite well regardless.

As for Jackson, he remains the best Brahma Bull for St. Louis, and the Rams certainly need him to produce. Against a tough defense such as Miami, a balanced attack is imperative to consistently move the rock and also keep the Dolphins offense off the field, which is more potent than given credit.

To that end, because the Rams need to get Jackson rolling on the ground in Week 6, let's project his numbers versus Miami.


When to Feed Jackson

First down is when it's best to give Jackson carries. When facing a rugged defense, and especially on the road, slamming early on the ground is vital.

This, for one, limits turnovers and helps the offense get set up for second- and third-down situations. The last thing St. Louis needs is to see 2nd/3rd-and-medium without an established ground game.

After first down, though, letting Jackson get the occasional carry on second down isn't a bad idea.

This sets up play-action for later on and takes pressure off of Sam Bradford. Altogether, Jackson needs carries and yards early on to help establish the Rams' offensive balance, which would then help the Rams to control the game tempo in the second half.

Dolphins' Capabilities

St. Louis must anticipate Miami stacking the box and playing man coverage behind it.

Still, the Rams can't afford to be forced into a one-dimensional approach early on. That allows the Dolphins to simply use their front seven against the run and drop an extra defender in coverage to blanket the pass.

And since St. Louis isn't as strong at throwing the ball as running, the more Sam Bradford drops back, the more it is to Miami's advantage. So, no matter how the game unfolds, the Rams must not abandon the ground game.

Even if Jackson has minimal production in the first half, the more he gets fed, the greater odds of breaking some key runs. Plus, the Rams must trust their defense will keep the game close as Chris Long and Co. are capable of providing additional possessions off turnovers.

Final Projections

If the Rams want to win the time of possession battle, Jackson must receive carries throughout.

Most definitely, the Rams need to remain balanced, because Miami's defense is too well disciplined for success from a one-dimensional attack.

Nevertheless, the running game is the best way to set up the pass, and when an offense has a guy such as Jackson, he must be given opportunities to make an impact. Otherwise, the Dolphins will take over this game as it progresses.

Projections: 23 carries for 65 yards, two receptions for 25 yards, one touchdown, no fumbles.


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