Jackson Has Combination Of Talents
When the Redskins watch film of Rams running back Steven Jackson, they see visions of their nemesis last week, Philadelphia's Brian Westbrook. Jackson is a giant compared with Westbrook, with an element of power to go along with his speed, open-field skills and great hands, but he provides the same kind of challenge, comprising roughly 40 percent of the Rams' offense.
Jackson makes everything go; his personal slump has much to do with the Rams' horrific offense (ranked 30th in the NFL). Jackson sat out the preseason while waiting on a new contract. He got the big payday, but his production has slipped after so much time out, averaging a paltry 3.6 yards per carry. Jackson was a wrecking ball the last time the Redskins faced St. Louis, leading the Rams to an overtime win in 2006, and he is coming off his best game of the season.
Make no mistake, Washington's game plan revolves around shutting him down.
"He's a great running back," defensive tackle Kedric Golston said. "He's as quick as a Reggie Bush and as powerful as Brandon Jacobs. He can do it all -- catch the ball, run the ball. He is their offense, and it starts with him, and he's still the same player. He's just that explosive player, so you've got to always be on your toes for that. He's that Brian Westbrook type; every time he touches the ball he can score."
The Redskins intend to pound Jackson before he can pound them. Their game plan for him is similar to when they face Dallas's burly runner, Marion Barber. They want to "hunt his legs," crunching low as often as possible and setting an intense tone early. It didn't work back in 2006, though, as Jackson won the game with an authoritative score, running over safety Sean Taylor in the process.
Jackson finished with 33 carries for 150 yards, including a 21-yard touchdown, and he also caught six balls for 102 yards with a 64-yard receiving touchdown. He should be fresh, coming off the bye week, and was stellar in his last outing against Buffalo, rushing 24 times for 110 yards and a touchdown and catching five balls for 78 yards.
"Just watching film, man, their offensive line comes off hard," defensive tackle Anthony Montgomery said, "and he's running the ball hard. He's a big back, and he can run you over. We've got to have our mind right and be physical with him. If you come up there tiptoeing trying to tackle that man, it's not going to be pretty. You've got to come physical."
The Redskins have some injuries on the defensive line, with end Jason Taylor nursing a calf injury and top tackle Cornelius Griffin iffy to play with a shoulder injury. Versatile Demetric Evans has been stout in the run game filling in for Taylor, however, and also works well inside as a tackle on passing downs. Defensive coordinator Greg Blache has rotated his linemen liberally, and they are responding, still fresh in the fourth quarter, which could be a major factor against such a physical runner.
"It's going well," Evans said of the rotation. "It gives me an opportunity to get more playing time and gives me an opportunity to show what I'm capable of doing, and right now it's working well."