FOXBORO, Mass. — Steven Jackson had never played for coach Bill Belichick before landing in New England last week, but the Patriots’ offense was not a complete mystery to the veteran running back.
Jackson, who signed with the Patriots as a free agent last Monday, began his career in St. Louis, where he spent one season under the tutelage of former Rams offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels in 2011. McDaniels now holds that same position with the Patriots, giving Jackson a leg up on learning his new team’s schemes.
“He has familiarity with the offense from when he was with St. Louis, so I’d say it’s coming back to him at a pretty good rate,” Belichick said Wednesday morning. “He’s only been here a few days; each day, you just keep building on the day before, the week before, and keep going forward. Hopefully, Wednesday will be better than last Friday, Thursday will be better than (Wednesday), and Friday … just moving forward.”
Jackson made a brief cameo Sunday in his Patriots debut, playing nine snaps in an overtime loss to the New York Jets. He carried the ball on seven of those snaps, gaining a total of 15 yards in his first game action of 2015.
Joining a team this late in the season — New England has just one more game, this Sunday against the Miami Dolphins, before the playoffs begin — can be a difficult transition for a player, and one Belichick said each handles differently.
“Unless you know the player — it’s not really applicable now — but if you come from another team and you had the guy a year or two before or that sort of thing,” Belichick said. “But that doesn’t really happen very much now, so I’d say … if we haven’t had the player, then it’s a new experience with that player.
“Guys learn at different rates; they pick things up differently. Some things, maybe they’ve done before but called them differently. Some things, maybe they’ve never done before. Maybe the concept comes to them quickly, maybe it doesn’t. Sometimes, it doesn’t happen in practice, but then it happens in the game. Sometimes, it happens in practice but doesn’t happen in the game. I think it’s just experience that each guy, you have to go through it with.”
Thumbnail photo via Kathy Willens/Associated Press