Remember when Packers fans were demanding that Ted Thompson go out and sign free agent running back Steven Jackson?
Well, that was way back in the spring of 2013.
At the time, it didn’t look like a terrible proposition. Jackson, who was 29 at the time, had just finished getting his eighth straight 1,000-yard season. And the Packers just got done handing it off to Cedric Benson, James Starks, DuJuan Harris and Ryan Grant.
The most embarrassing aspect of the 2012 Packers’ season was that Aaron Rodgers outrushed all four of those guys. And he had 17 less carries than Benson and Starks.
The running game needed a shot in the arm. And after Jackson toiled through seven sub .500 seasons in St. Louis, it made sense to bring him to Green Bay with a chance to contend right away.
However, the move that everyone thought was obvious was never made. And when Thompson passed on bringing Jackson to Green Bay to be paired with a high-octane offense, many started to wonder what exactly his plans were.
Instead of throwing money at worn out tires and decreased explosion, the Packers smartly opted to invest in the future by drafting Eddie Lacy the following month.
And I’d say the Packers came out OK. Jackson has had trouble staying on the field for Atlanta and when he is on the field he doesn’t exactly provide a needed boost. Last year he rushed for over 75 yards just twice and this year he has totaled less than 50 yards in nine games.
Juxtapose that with Lacy, who came to Green Bay as an Alabama wrecking ball. People didn’t know what to expect from him and weren’t sure how well he would pick up blocking assignments and catch passes out of the backfield.
After showing off his power and nifty spin moves he earned the Offensive Rookie of the Year. The moment he accepted that trophy, any lingering dissonance over not getting Jackson immediately dissolved. The amazing thing about Lacy was that he got 20 or more carries 11 times in his freshman season. That’s a huge heap of praise coming from a pass-heavy offense.
Obviously, Lacy has struggled to get back to his 2013 self. But to his credit, he isn’t getting fed the same either. After 12 games last year, Lacy had seven games of 20 carries or more. Compare that to this year’s total of two.
I’m happy to say that I didn’t hop on the Jackson bandwagon. Even if he had brought sustainable production, the price would’ve been too much at a position that is in decline by age 30. The Falcons caved by signing him to a 3-year, $12-million deal.
The Packers knew there were other assets more important and thought they could at least get the same production from a much cheaper rookie as opposed to paying a veteran for his years of service.
It may not change the minds of the zealous anti-Thompson circles, but not signing Jackson paved the way for what you see today. Lacy is one of the reasons that Rodgers thinks that this team may be one of the best he ever plays on.
I highly doubt he would be saying the same thing if Jackson was still on the roster.——————
Cory Jennerjohn is from Wisconsin and has been in sports media for over 10 years. To contact Cory e-mail him at jeobs -at- yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter: Cory Jennerjohn