"You've got to be able to run the football and run the football when everybody knows that you're going to do that," Smith said. "And when you're in that situation you've got to have a big back. We felt that Steven was the type of running back that we were looking for. Unfortunately Steven was injured last year and we really didn't get a chance to see what he was capable of doing until the last four or five games. But you've got to have a big back when you've got to get two or three yards or you've got to change your gameplan based on weather, especially late in the season, and you've got to be able to run the football."
Jackson finished last year with 543 yards on 157 carries (3.5 avg.) with six touchdowns in 12 games. He added 33 grabs for 191 yards and another score.
"I don't think we really got a chance to see what Steven was capable of doing until the last three or four games," Smith said.
Jackson, who turns 31 in July, averaged a career-low 3.5 yards per carry but scored six touchdowns over the final six games.
“We’ve got to commit to the run game a little bit more. That’s something that I can definitely help with,” Koetter told the team's website. “We’ve also got to do a better job of executing in the run game. I don’t feel like we ever really gave
“He got hurt in that second game, missed three or four games until he came back. We’ve just got to commit to running the ball more, give it to Steven and that’ll help us get better fast.”
Jackson had 13 carries for 41 yards and five catches for 53 yards on seven targets. He failed to score for the first time in three games.
Jackson is expected to return to Atlanta in 2014, but keep an eye on his status this offseason in case the Falcons decide to go in another direction with their backfield.
The Panthers have been the definition of a lockdown run defense all season with only four touchdowns (three rushing) allowed to running backs and five scoring double digits in Fantasy points. Jackson had 13 carries for 57 yards and three catches for 19 yards in their first meeting in Week 9, and you should expect another game with single digits in Fantasy points in the rematch.
Jackson has been great of late with double digits in Fantasy points in four of his past five games with six touchdowns over that span. But we’re not expecting a big performance with the Panthers trying to lock up the No. 2 seed in the NFC and a first-round bye.
I would consider Jackson just a flex option this week. You know he'll get the work against the Panthers, but he might not give you the big production that he's posted over the past few weeks because Carolina is so stout against the run.