Although the choice was technically made by Steven Jackson to leave the St. Louis Rams this past offseason, the writing was on the wall with the team that he would no longer be the feature back. With the reality of sharing the carries on a team many believed was likely to still be a work in progress, S-Jax decided to exercise an option in his contract which allowed him to test the free agent market. His dream to finally make a deep playoff run seemed attainable after he inked a deal with the Atlanta Falcons (a playoff team four of the past five seasons) to help shoulder the load in their backfield. Unfortunately this fairytale quickly turned into a nightmare in more ways than one.
Ironically enough, Jackson suffered his first nagging injury in the Falcons’ Week 2 tilt with the Rams when he went down with a thigh issue. A hamstring popped up later in the year slowing the aging running back even more, and the Falcons’ season has quickly spiraled out of control now sitting at 2-8. To make matters worse for Jackson it appears his time as the leader in the backfield may finally be up with just 151 rushing yards on 47 carries this season. His current streak of eight straight seasons with 1,000 yards will likely become a thing of the past in his first campaign away from St. Louis
The Rams didn’t really see much improvement from their running game early on, but it seems the team may have found the next S-Jax to man their backfield in Zac Stacy. Although he’s substantially shorter than Jackson’s 6-foot-2 frame at a mere 5-foot-8, Jackson’s 240-pound playing weight is rivaled by Stacy’s 224-pounds to tip the scales. His bruising style mirrors the former Rams back, and he has many characteristics that make him appealing to a Jeff Fisher coached football team.
It’s sad to see the former fixture in a horned helmet struggling so much with the Falcons when all he wanted was to end his career on top, but the Rams have to feel okay about their decision to move on. Stacy’s 129 carries for 537 yards has filled the void in their backfield well during his six starts in his rookie campaign out of Vanderbilt. If he can even come close to the eight straight years of 1,000 yards on the ground that Jackson supplied during his days with the franchise he will be a much valued member of the team for the foreseeable future.