Jackson not clamoring to escape losing Rams

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He plays on a blatantly rebuilding team which has lost 15 consecutive games, and he’s a 26-year-old running back on pace for a 1,443-yard season.

Steven Jackson can do the grisly math, and that’s why he wasn’t especially caught off guard Thursday night when I asked him if he thought the St. Louis Rams might deal him to another team before Tuesday’s NFL trading deadline – which, incidentally, is the one-year anniversary of their last victory.

Photo Jackson had 84 rushing yards against the Vikings last week.
(Scott Rovak/US Presswire)

”It really wouldn’t surprise me,” Jackson said. ”A couple of years ago I saw Isaac Bruce(notes) get let go and end up on the 49ers, and I realized anything is possible in this business. So I just put my head down and play hard and try to win games for the St. Louis Rams – and I want to be a St. Louis Ram for as long as they’ll have me.

”At the same time, I’m very aware of the business side of this game. Last year, I went through a holdout, so I learned all about the business side first-hand. If I get that phone call that I’ve been shipped out, I’ll roll with it. But I’ve laid a lot of groundwork here and I think we’re turning it around, and I’d like to reap the benefits when we do.”

In previous years, the notion of a team dumping a high-priced, consistently productive star like Jackson in October would have been almost inconceivable. I still think such a move would be a longshot, but it’s at least in the realm of possibility, because NFL teams are more receptive to in-season wheeling and dealing than they’ve been in the past.

Chalk it up to a combination of desperation (teams like the Washington Redskins, Dallas Cowboys, Minnesota Vikings, Houston Texans, Chicago Bears, Carolina Panthers, New York Jets and San Diego Chargers are either in win-now mode or run by general managers and/or coaches desperate to save their jobs), opportunity (there’s an inordinate number of truly awful teams with no realistic hope of contending this year) and economics (with an uncapped year looming, and a potential lockout after that, teams can take more chances than usual in terms of salary structure). Oh, and the 2010 NFL draft crop is being billed as a strong one, which makes those picks more valuable.

Even general managers skeptical of parting with those precious picks had to have their appetites whetted by last week’s trade between the Cleveland Browns and Jets that brought talented, 26-year-old wideout Braylon Edwards(notes) to the Big Apple. After more than a year’s worth of substandard performances, Edwards delivered in his first game with the Jets (who sent two players and a pair of draft picks, reportedly in the third and fifth rounds, to Cleveland). He caught five passes for 64 yards and a touchdown and made plays which set up two more scores in a Monday night defeat to the Miami Dolphins.

Suddenly, the Jets have the potential big-time receiver they’d been lacking and harbor visions of competing for an AFC title, while the 1-4 Browns are better positioned to retool for next season. It’s all very baseball-esque: A team that has given up on its season unloads an established veteran to a contender in exchange for prospects (often, in this case, of the undrafted variety).

However, this being the NFL, there are some mitigating factors. First, the deadline occurs so early in the season that, under normal conditions, teams rarely are ready to abandon hope. In 2009, though, there are plenty of woebegone losers (like the Rams) that absolutely should. Secondly, as last year’s Dolphins reminded us, swift and dramatic turnarounds are entirely possible in this era, so getting rid of an all-purpose stud like Jackson could come back to burn the franchise if the team’s fortunes change in a hurry.

Jackson, who’s fourth in the NFL with 451 rushing yards despite playing for the league’s 28th-ranked offense, is understandably frustrated. But he’s also convinced that first-year coach Steve Spagnuolo is in the process of building a winner.

”I’ve really bought into the direction of this team,” Jackson said. ”For guys to want to follow a leader, you have to give them a vision – you have to show them the way. I believe Coach Spags has that GPS for a winning franchise.”

Jackson isn’t basing his faith in Spagnoulo on the first-year coach’s prior success as the New York Giants’ defensive coordinator, saying, ”I’ve played for a lot of coaches here, and they all had impressive track records – so no, that alone isn’t reason to buy in. But I see a team that’s learning how to be disciplined and mentally sharp, and although we’re not scoring, this team is actually a better team than we’ve had for the last couple of seasons.

”It’s kind of like when you clean your closet out. You’ve got to make a bigger mess before you get organized. That’s what we’re going through right now.”

The problem is that, as Spagnuolo tidies up, Jackson is getting pummeled. Last week, in the midst of a 38-10 beat down by the Vikings, the halfback actually provoked sympathy from his opponents. ”I was down,” he recalled, ”and some Vikings came over and picked me up off the ground. They were like, ‘Are you OK, man?’ Like they felt bad for me. Talk about a low point.”

As he forges ahead toward his fifth consecutive 1,000-yard rushing season, Jackson envisions the bright future that he believes awaits the struggling Rams.

”When we turn it around, man, it’ll be so great,” he said. ”I just hope I’m not washed up when it happens.”

Here are some other players that teams in futile situations might consider dangling:

Photo Antonio Bryant(notes), No. 89.
(Kim Klement/US Presswire)

• Antonio Bryant: Last year, under Jon Gruden, he was a revelation with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Now, the 0-5 Bucs are a complete reclamation project, and Bryant’s a high-priced veteran who has already played for four teams. One of those former employees, the San Francisco 49ers, could sure use his dynamic playmaking ability, and I’ll bet Mike Singletary isn’t scared off by Bryant’s past off-the-field issues.

Marshawn Lynch(notes): While the third-year Buffalo Bills halfback served a three-game suspension to start the season for violating the league’s personal-conduct policy, his backup, Fred Jackson(notes), tore it up. The 1-4 Bills are in bad shape, and Lynch, a former Cal star, sure would look good in Chargers colors.

Brady Quinn(notes): Benched after two-and-a-half games – kept on the bench after Derek Anderson’s(notes) 2-for-17 effort in Buffalo – Quinn, in a startling coincidence, put his house on the market this week. The Browns say they’re not trading him, but tell me general manager George Kokinis shouldn’t at least feel out a couple of teams in search of a young quarterback prospect (like the Niners and Denver Broncos) to see what they might offer.

Brian Waters(notes): Dissed by the new regime with the Kansas City Chiefs, Waters, 32, is the wrong demographic for this young, rebuilding, 0-5 team, and general manager Scott Pioli knows it. Don’t you think the line-challenged Green Bay Packers would salivate over a guard who has made the Pro Bowl in four of the last five seasons?

Ronde Barber(notes): At 34, Barber remains one of the league’s better Cover-2 corners and still has a flair for making the big play. He’ll forever be associated with the Bucs’ glory days, and there’s no need for him to finish his career as part of the current mess. How much better would his life be in with the New England Patriots, Baltimore Ravens, Indianapolis Colts or New Orleans Saints? Right, ridiculously better. Or, better still, the Giants could swing a deal, present him with a No. 21 jersey and give Tom Coughlin halting flashbacks for weeks.

TAKE IT TO THE ATM

The Chiefs will finally win a game, and their road triumph over the Washington Redskins will create pandemonium in the nation’s capital (though not the kind that Rush Limbaugh is hoping for). … Ray Lewis(notes) and Ed Reed(notes) will lead the riled-up Ravens to an upset victory over the Vikings. … The Houston Texans, led by a determined Andre Johnson(notes), will surprise the Bengals in Cincinnati.

PLEASE, BOSS, SEND ME TO …

New Orleans, for what should be the best game of the season’s first six weeks: Eli’s homecoming; Shockey’s revenge; a battle of undefeated teams who I believe are the league’s best … and maybe I can sneak an Abita Turbo Dog in between many caffeinated beverages.

LIES, LIES, LIES

1. After doing away with the hip-hop music during the warmup portion of practice, Buccaneers coach Raheem Morris got congratulatory calls from Tipper Gore, William Bennett and the Ghost of C. DeLores Tucker.

2. Cornerback DeAngelo Hall’s(notes) declaration that the Redskins are “a couple of steps from panic” was prompted by former ‘Skins great John Riggins’ description of foot placement.

3. Rush Limbaugh’s removal from Dave Checketts’ group that is attempting to purchase the Rams should be blamed on a conspiracy involving the “liberal media,” Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith and President Obama rather than on public opposition from people like NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and Colts owner Jimmy Irsay.

WORLD’S SIMPLEST POOL

Thank you, Eagles, for getting me to Week 6 with a stress-free victory over the Bucs. You may now join the Patriots, Redskins, Ravens and Texans in the “Do Not Use” section. This week I’m counting on another easy Sunday: I’m taking the Packers, fresh off a bye, to start a winning streak by defeating the Lions at Lambeau.

MY BUDDIES’ ANNOYING FANTASY ADVENTURE

Just when UCSB women’s hoops coach Lindsay Gottlieb thought Braylon Edwards couldn’t hurt her anymore, he rose up from the fantasy grave Monday night and inflicted the greatest pain of all. After benching Edwards in the wake of his zero-point performance the previous week, Gottlieb watched in agony on Sunday as Bernard Berrian(notes) (3 points), Chad Ochocinco(notes) (7), Chris Johnson (3), Marion Barber(notes) (5) and Julius Jones(notes) (3) failed to produce. Naturally, on Monday, Edwards scored 12 in his debut for the Jets. Playing him would have helped Harsh Reality overcome Team Shipoopi. Instead, Gottlieb’s team suffered a five-point defeat to drop to 2-3. Our response? We’re putting Edwards on the trading block and will dump him for any semi-decent running back or receiver we can scavenge. For this week’s showdown with Madden’s Madness (Kurt Warner(notes), Michael Turner(notes), Fred Jackson, Michael Bush(notes), Devin Hester(notes), Nate Washington(notes), Jermichael Finley(notes)), we’re contemplating a major shakeup: If our waiver claim on Matt Hasselbeck(notes) goes through (we’d cut Trent Edwards(notes) to make room), I’m recommending starting him (vs. Arizona) over Carson Palmer(notes) (vs. Texans). “I’m not feeling it,” Gottlieb said Thursday. “One hit to the back or ribs and he could be out – plus we’re also starting Julius Jones, and that’s one too many Seahawks for me.” If we don’t get Hasselbeck, the plan is to claim Chad Henne(notes). This week we’re looking for some Cheesehead magic at Lambeau – we have Greg Jennings(notes), Mason Crosby(notes) and the Green Bay defense in the lineup. Edwards? Not a chance. Gottlieb is grumpy just thinking about it, but one thing did make her smile: Friday is the first day of practice for her defending Big West champions.

Photo Braylon Edwards
(Lynne Sladky/AP Photo)

I’m starting to think my buddy Malibu is a bit of a lost cause: Unbeknownst to me, he traded Donovan McNabb(notes) – by far his high scorer in Sabbath Bloody Sabbath’s 25-point defeat to Locals Only last week – for Seahawks halfback Jones. He was doing a solid for A-Man, his son, but whatever – he’s now the Al Davis of fantasy. Jones joins a dubious running backs roster that includes Barber and underachievers LaDainian Tomlinson(notes), Darren Sproles(notes) and Reggie Bush(notes). This week Sabbath (1-4) faces Varmint Poontang (allow me to mention, once again, that this is a classy league), whose lineup includes Drew Brees(notes), DeAngelo Williams(notes), Jamal Lewis(notes), Dwayne Bowe(notes), Jennings, Edwards (that’s the sound of Gottlieb screaming in the background), Brent Celek(notes) and Chris Cooley(notes). With Barber on a bye, Sabbath is trotting out a lineup that includes Kurt Warner, Joe Flacco(notes), Sproles, Jones, Hines Ward(notes), Berrian, Johnny Knox(notes) and Todd Heap(notes). Malibu did take my advice on some minor transactions: He picked up Marc Bulger(notes) as a third quarterback and made waiver claims for Lee Evans(notes) and Pierre Garcon(notes) (conditionally releasing Mohamed Massaquoi(notes) and Steve Breaston(notes)). I really like his chances … of falling to 1-5.

Here’s what Y! Sports fantasy guru Brad Evans has to add to the doom and gloom:

Silver’s recommendation of Hasselbeck over Palmer is well-assessed and accurate. Seattle’s Mr. Clean looked spectacular last week lighting up the Jags for 241 yards and four scores. His comfort level with the hurry-up and loads of lethal weapons should prove deadly against an Arizona defense which has allowed 303 passing yards and 2.3 aerial strikes per game to QBs this season. It’s criminal he’s available. Coach Gottlieb needs to understand Hasselbeck could be Harsh Reality’s “Rudy”. Over the next seven weeks, no passer has an easier fantasy slate than the Bald Bull (Ari, Bye, at Dal, Det, at Ari, at Min, at StL).

Harsh Reality’s on-again, off-again bromance with Banana Hands (Braylon Edwards) is high comedy. Before shipping him down river for a mediocre back, she needs to step back for a minute and readdress the situation. With Jerricho Cotchery(notes) severely hampered by a hamstring injury, the nightclub pugilist should continue to attract a robust amount of targets moving forward. Out from under Eric Mangini’s dark cloud, he appears comfortable and determined. His re-teaming with Brian Schottenheimer boosts his value. Monday night’s showcase on South Beach was clear-cut evidence he still possesses elite talents. Don’t deal him for a Julius Jones-caliber back just yet.

Speaking of Seattle’s heaping pile of bland; Malibu’s dealing of Jones for Donovan McNabb is John Elway for Mark Herman/Chris Hinton/Ron Solt moronic. Seriously, were you sober? Charles Manson is saner. Varmint Poontang, which must be Bugs Bunny’s favorite squad, will likely dismantle Al Davis’ merry band of misfits. Though Sproles could produce surprising totals for Sabbath, the Brees-DeAngelo-Jennings thrice will likely lead to Malibu’s undoing, an all-too-familiar feeling. When the services of Marc Bulger are sought after, you know desperation has set in. Malibu, it’s time to consult the Captain of Spiced Rum Land.

OXYGEN-DEPRIVED THOUGHT FROM ABOVE

As a Lynyrd Skynyrd fan and dude who came of age in the ’70s, I know I’m supposed to love “Sweet Home Alabama” and all. So why is it that I find the song so insufferable these days – and when I hear the opening riff, am I the only one thinking, “Turn it down”?

LET’S DO SOME DON JULIO SILVER SHOTS FOR …

The Ontario man (and his friends) who valiantly rescued a half-ton chainsaw carving of former Bills running back Thurman Thomas last Sunday and transported it across the Canadian border after (supposedly) seeing some people trying to burn it in a parking lot across from Ralph Wilson Stadium. All of North America is in their debt. (If only they could’ve performed a similar salvaging of the Bills’ offense.)

THIS WEEK’S PROOF THAT CAL IS THE CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE

Cal kicker David Seawright has the week off because of midterms, so instead of focusing on football – all you need to know is that the Bears have been outscored 72-6 in their past two games, and one of their players is guaranteeing a victory at UCLA this Saturday – I’ll begin with a Nobel plug. Congratulations to professor Oliver Williamson, who on Monday became the school’s third faculty member in the past nine years (and fifth overall) to capture the Nobel Prize in Economics Sciences. That’s reason enough to dance, and former Golden Bear swimming great Natalie Coughlin (and fellow alum Alec Mazo) complied that night with a bolero that pushed her through to the next round of Dancing With The Stars.

Cal’s second-ranked water polo team, coached by the great Kirk Everist, is coming off a big victory over rival Stanford (and narrow defeat to USC), and will face fourth-ranked UCLA Friday night in L.A. It has been an emotional couple of weeks for the 17th-ranked Cal women’s soccer team, but the Bears – led by junior striker extraordinaire Alex Morgan – have bravely battled through adversity and will try to follow up their 2-0 Pac-10 start with home victories this weekend over No. 3 UCLA and No. 9 USC. The 10th-ranked Cal men’s soccer team has games at No. 2 UCLA and San Diego State, while the 14th-ranked women’s volleyball team heads north to face No. 15 Oregon and Oregon State and Shellie Onstead’s young field-hockey squad visits Miami of Ohio on Friday. The Bears’ seventh-ranked women’s golf team competes at the Stanford Intercollegiate, and Teri McKeever’s defending national champion women’s swim team (I never get tired of saying that) struts its stuff in a weekend relay meet at San Diego State. Finally, might the results of this UC Berkeley-initiated study prove relevant for one nearby NFL franchise?

YAHOO! SEARCH WORDS OF THE WEEK

Press hop

ROLLIN’ WITH THE ROYALS

I could bore you with some news about various Reading players who competed in international matches for their home countries this past weekend, but instead I’ll just focus in on the doom and gloom: The Royals are 21st in the 24-team Football League Championship table, two points above the relegation line, and have a road match against second-place West Bromwich Albion on Saturday. I wonder what life in League One is like?

LYRIC-ALTERED SONG DEDICATION OF THE WEEK

Last weekend, I brought you Randy Hanson’s side of the story – a detailed description of how he allegedly came to suffer a broken jaw during an Aug. 5 meeting with Raiders coach Tom Cable. So far, Cable’s public stance is that “nothing happened.” I’m not quite sure how to reconcile the two accounts, but as we wait for the Napa County District Attorney’s office to decide whether to file charges against Cable – and, most likely, Hanson’s civil suit against Cable and the Raiders – perhaps it’s time for Suzanne Vega to weigh in. To the tune of “Luka”:

My name is Randy
I work on the second floor
I break down film till dawn
Should we blitz or play Cover-4?

If you hear something late at night
Some kind of trouble, some kind of fight
Just don’t ask me what it was
Just don’t ask me what it was
Just don’t ask me what it was

I think it’s cause I’m clumsy
I try not to talk too loud
Maybe I slipped on a playbook
I am bloodied but unbowed

They only hit until you break
And claim it was a big mistake
And you can’t work here anymore
And you can’t work here anymore
And you can’t work here anymore

Yes I think I’m okay
I walked into the door again
If you ask that’s what they’ll say
And it’s not Al’s business anyway
Maybe JaMarcus was to blame
An errant football caused my pain

Just don’t tell Roger Goodell
Just don’t tell Roger Goodell
Just don’t tell Roger Goodell

My name is Randy
I worked on the second floor
I worked next door to you
Yes I think you’ve seen me before

Did you see something in that room?
Some kind of tussle, some kind of doom?
Just don’t tell them what it was
Just don’t tell them what it was
Just don’t tell them what it was

And they only hit until you break
And claim it’s all a big mistake
You just don’t work here anymore
You just don’t work here anymore
You just don’t work here anymore

Michael Silver covers the NFL for Yahoo! Sports. Follow him on Mogotxt, Twitter and Facebook. Also check out ridewithsilver.com. Send Michael a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.
Updated Friday, Oct 16, 2009