With Steven Jackson hitting the NFL free agent market in 2013, the St. Louis Rams are going to have to dig deep at running back. Letting go of a nine-year veteran like Jackson is going to open the door for opportunity, but who is going to make the most out of the opening?
Last season, the Rams didn’t have anyone rival Jackson for carries. The team’s back-up running back was Daryl Richardson, who ran 98 times compared to 257 attempts for Jackson in 2013. I think the inability to get another guy going alongside Jackson will cripple them for years to come. The Atlanta Falcons handled the Michael Turner demise perfectly as they had Jacquizz Rodgers increase in carries each season to the point where he was a big factor prior to Turner hitting the road.
With that being said, the Rams backfield is now made up off a 22-year-0ld and a 23-year-old who are both eager to show the NFL what they have to offer. Richardson got more snaps than Isiah Pead last year, but Pead was a second-round draft pick just last season. He must play better than the 54 rush yards that he totaled last season because will simply not get the job done.
Sam Bradford has to be rooting for these guys to be a factor because he has been mediocre even with a running back like Jackson–things could take a turn for the worst if Bradford has to take on the load of a one-dimensional passing offense. Rams coach Jeff Fisher knows what great running backs look like as he was on the sidelines for Chris Johnson‘s historic season with the Tennessee Titans in 2009.
While I have my doubts that Pead and Richardson will be the next CJ2K, they will have to find a replacement back to Jackson, who won’t be in the Rams backfield for the first time in nearly a decade.