Steven Jackson bought into his own hype last season

AP

Steven Jackson was used to carrying a bad Rams team, so it’s perhaps natural he thought he’d be the thing that pushed an already good Falcons team over the top.

Instead, the season was as much of a disaster for him as for them, with his streak of 1,000-yard seasons ending at eight, and the Falcons falling miserably to 4-12.

“There were quite a few of the years in St. Louis when I shouldered a large burden, and I knew going into every season what I was going into,” Jackson said, via Jeff Schultz of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “When I came here last year, I kind of believed my own hype. The team was so close to going to the Super Bowl, and I thought I was going to be the missing link. Then reality slaps you. It’s still a team sport.

“This year I know I don’t have to shoulder the burden of carrying the franchise. I’m not the missing piece, I’m just one piece. I feel comfortable knowing that I can still compete at a high level. But all of the unnecessary stress is gone.”

The Falcons actually need Jackson to be a bigger piece this year. With tight end Tony Gonzalez retired, there’s a big offensive void that someone needs to fill.

Being well would be a good first step, since Jackson’s career-low numbers last year were attributed to a hamstring problem that bothered him throughout. But the Falcons also fixed their disaster of an offensive line, so the cumulative result should be a better chance for Jackson to get back to being himself.