After making only one trip to the playoffs, it’s clear all running back Steven Jackson wants to do at this stage of his career is play for a team and compete for a Super Bowl. After spending the first nine years of his career being the focal point of the offense for the lowly St. Louis Rams, it’s clear he has lost a step, as most running backs on the wrong side of 30, do. Especially ones with the tread of 2,743 career rushing attempts on his resume.
“That’s the thing,” Jackson said, according to Nick Wagoner, an ESPN staff writer. “I have all the things I’ve accomplished personally, but I’ve still never been on a team that won more than eight games. That would be definitely one of the things that I’m looking for is that opportunity in my next chapter.”
Jackson is a big supporter of the revival of the running back position, especially those who stay in on all three downs. He even has a website devoted to it, savetherunningback.org. He believes there’s only a handful of true bell-cow backs that exist today, and coincidentally one of them resides in Pittsburgh in the form of All-Pro Le’Veon Bell. Fancy enough it was back in the 2013 draft class that it was Bell with whom Jackson saw a virtual clone of himself. Displaying a toughness derived from playing in the rough and tumble Big Ten Conference, a patience to allow his blocks to develop, plus the soft hands and pass blocking skills to stonewall defenders, it was a very good comparison, minus Jackson’s infamous dreadlocks.
“I don’t want to go to a team that is rebuilding and needs me to come on and teach guys how to be professional,” Jackson said, according to Marc Sessler of NFL.com. “I’ve done that. I’ve been more than vocal about wanting to help young guys, but at some point I have to be a little selfish.”
With a lethal offense in place, and Bell entrenched as the unquestioned starter who’s likely to see the lion’s share of the work, that wouldn’t be the case. As far as coming to a winning team, what better one than the Pittsburgh Steelers, where every year the goal is a Super Bowl and anything less is considered a failure? Plus, with Jackson in tow, he could be the veteran mentor to Bell that LeGarrette Blount never was, as his advice and knowledge on preparation, taking care of his body, how to avoid hits, etc. could be invaluable.
“I want to be part of a winning team because when I do hang up my cleats, I can see a lot of people holding that over my head when a lot of it was out of my control,” Jackson said, according to Sessler.
With Bell facing a 3-game suspension to begin the year, coupled with the age and recent injury history of newly-acquired free agent DeAngelo Williams, the team is left staring at the likes of Josh Harris, 170-pounder Dri Archer and a sprinkling of undrafted free agents. We all saw in the playoff loss to the Baltimore Ravens what can happen if an injury happens to Bell with no real semblance of a backup in place. A steady force could be added, likely for the veteran’s minimum, in the form of Jackson, and in my opinion, would be a smart investment, considering some of the tough defenses littered throughout the 2015 schedule.