Falcons want to run Jackson more, not less

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Don't expect the Atlanta Falcons to spread the carries around among running backs Steven Jackson, Jacquizz Rodgers and Jason Snelling.

If anything, it wouldn't be a surprise to see Jackson get even more carries Sunday at Tampa Bay, if the Falcons can avoid falling behind and having to rely on the passing game.

Although Jackson managed just 11 yards on nine carries in a 33-10 loss to the Seattle Seahawks, offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter sees the need to give Jackson more opportunities.

"My opinion is Steven Jackson is a workhorse running back and we haven't been able to work him," Koetter said. "I mean, I think Steven is one of those guys that gets better the more he touches it.

"We're not running it successfully enough to get him enough carries. If he's carrying in multiple times, he's going to need to come out and then that's going to lead to [Rodgers] and Jason getting more carries, too. But unfortunately, because we're not doing anything successfully right now and we're getting behind on the scoreboard, [the running game] sometimes gets away from us."

Jackson's season-high in carries was 13 against Carolina, and he seemed to run with more authority with each attempt while gaining 57 rugged yards. He had a season-high 77 rushing yards on 11 carries in the season opener at New Orleans, but that total included a 50-yard run.

Jackson, 30, has averaged 18 rushing attempts per game over the course of 10 seasons. Right now, he's averaging a career-low 9.4 attempts, slightly below his average as a rookie in St. Louis (9.4).

Four times with the Rams, Jackson averaged 20-plus carries in a season. And he averaged 4.1 yards per carry or better in three of those four seasons.

So far this season, Jackson is averaging a career-low 3.2 yards per carry. But keep in mind that he missed four games with a hamstring injury and is running behind an offensive line that has struggled to open holes. Not to mention the Falcons have had trouble with backside blocking.

It will be interesting to see how many more carries Jackson gets Sunday against the league's fifth-best rushing defense in Tampa Bay.

"I think if you look at any premier running back over the years, they all get better the more they get the ball," Koetter said. "When I was in Jacksonville with Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew, shoot, if they had their way, they wanted the ball every time.

"Anybody that's got the stats that Steven Jackson does, they want the ball a lot."