There is a lot that goes into making an NFL player great. They need talent, opportunity, and coaching.
Isaiah Pead is a guy that has been really impressive to me all along. He doesn’t lack for talent. I’ve compared his fluid, effortless style to Arian Foster. Much like Foster he runs upright, easily transitions through cuts, and has the vision to make the extra step that will turn a two-yard play into a big gain. He has the opportunity in St. Louis to comfortably prove his worth.
Steven Jackson still has something left in the tank but new coach Jeff Fisher used a second round pick on Pead for a reason and wants to stretch out the remaining life in Jackson’s legs. As mentioned before, the coaching is there. Fisher understands the value of a strong running game, from Eddie George to Chris Johnson.
Pead’s best fit is in a zone running scheme. I feel that he could lead all rookie rushers in a zone scheme but his athleticism would still provide for success in a man scheme as well. I’ve said for years that Steven Jackson has been ran into the ground and that this will be the year of his decline.
He keeps proving me wrong year after year.
I won’t fall victim to it again but I will say that to my knowledge he is the only current player that is actively on an NFL roster that has over 2,000 career carries. But, he also has ran for over 1,000 yards rushing for seven straight seasons and averaged 4.4 yards per carries last year, which would tie him for the second best average of his career. He has had consistent, big play ability. In all eight NFL seasons, he has had at least one rush of 40-60 yards. Factor that in with him catching around 40 passes a season and around 7 total touchdowns per year. The Rams and Jeff Fisher still want Jackson to be an integral part of the offense for a few more seasons.
Isaiah won’t be called upon to be the bell cow for the Rams but he won’t have to be. Pead will be highly effective as the quick jab to Jackson’s power punch in the Rams 1-2 combo. The shared reps would be beneficial to both players, and a dominant running game could hopefully help get Sam Bradford back on track. Bradford will have to adjust to another offensive scheme and hopefully find a true number one receiving threat that he can build chemistry with for more than one year.
Fisher’s plan should be for Pead to effectively spell Jackson in hopes that Jackson can play at a high level for another three years or so. Isaiah won’t be pressured to learn faster or do more than he’s comfortable with. As he grows, he will be conditioned into becoming the primary back after Jackson’s career is over.
The NFL takes a toll on the bodies of the players and no position more so than running backs. Any year could be the year that Steven Jackson finally shows a decline in talent/ ability. It happens to even the best of the best. Time even caught up with LaDainian Tomlinson a few years ago.
LT was able to make it over the 3,000 carries plateau in his career, that’s by far the exception and not the rule. Steven has averaged over 286 carries per year over the last seven seasons. The team should look to cut him back to 180-200 carries a year and should be able to get three more quality years out of Jackson. Pead will definitely have a role in each and every game this year. The level of his participation will depend heavily on the health of Jackson and Coach Fisher’s long term plan.
Dr. Roto’s Fantasy Football Spin
One of the great TV shows from the 1980′s was a show called “Dynasty.” The story centered around the Carrington family with all the glitz, glamour, and riches that the 80′s were known for. Most Fantasy Football players play in seasonal leagues–those leagues that end when the current NFL season is over. However, there are some Fantasy owners (like myself) who play in dynasty keeper leagues. In dynasty leagues, owners are not just looking for a player who might be good for one year, but for a number of years in the future. Isaiah Pead is the perfect RB for dynasty league owners to target.
While I do not expect him to dominate in 2012, he very well could be the lead back for the Rams in 2013 and beyond. In college, Pead showed an incredible ability to hit the holes and make long runs. This is something that Jeff Fisher will take advantage of this year. Expect the Rams to slowly acclimate Pead into the Rams’ offense in 2012. Pead will have Steven Jackson to mentor him and he has a chance to get about 5-10 carries a game. Isaiah Pead is on my Fantasy radar for 2012–certainly as a handcuff for Steven Jackson, but also as a RB#4 who could get a start or two if Jackson gets injured. However, in dynasty leagues, he is one of my top picks–probably my third RB off the board after Trent Richardson and Doug Martin. High praise indeed.