AFC South All-22 Review: Kareem Jackson Gets Physical

Nate Dunlevy@NateDunlevyGuest ColumnistNovember 14, 2012

Kareem Jackson picked off his fourth pass of the year against the Bears.
Kareem Jackson picked off his fourth pass of the year against the Bears.Mike DiNovo-US PRESSWIRE

Kareem Jackson's name has been shouted from the throats of Houston Texans fans for three years now.

The only difference is that in 2012, they don't use it as a substitute for profanity.

As indicated in the Texans' progress report this week, Jackson's play has steadily improved from last year to this.

Three plays against Chicago illustrate much of what Jackson does well in Wade Phillips' scheme.

He Tackles

Situation: 3rd-and-1, HOU 43

Jackson lines up over Devin Hester, who goes in motion right. He's giving cushion to Hester and is clearly lining up in zone coverage.

Hester ducks in behind two other Bears targets who release upfield, hypothetically leaving a pocket for Hester to slide into.

Jackson stays on his responsibility, and the second Hester plants his foot to turn toward Jay Cutler, Jackson begins to dial in on him.

Hester catches the ball and tries to run laterally. He shimmies Jackson, who doesn't bite.

Instead, he stays low and drives through Hester's legs, upending him inches shy of the third down.

Jackson has always had a rep as a sound tackler and good zone corner. Here, he uses both skills to perfection. His read is excellent and his technique sound.

The Bears ended up converting the fourth-down play (then fumbling), but Jackson had done his job as well as possible.

He Covers

Situation: 3rd-and-10, CHI 27

Jackson is isolated on Hester on 3rd-and-long. Contrary to his reputation, he offers him no cushion on the play.

The Bears tried to take advantage of Hester's speed against Jackson, but to no avail.

He stays with Hester stride for stride, but the receiver has the advantage of knowing when the route will break. He overruns Hester by a step, grabbing his arm as he flies by. Hester is thrown off by the tug and can't haul in the pass.

Though this play was an obvious case of pass interference (despite Cris Collinsworth's ridiculous commentary), there's a lot good about what Jackson does.

First, he manages to stay with Hester stride for stride, despite not giving him a wide berth to start with.

Second, when he realizes he's overrun the play, he managed to get a hand on the receiver without making a violent motion.

He was just subtle enough to dupe the official, who missed the contact.

As a result of targeting Jackson, the Bears punt.

He Reacts

Situation: 2nd-and-10, HOU 39, 1:23 to play in the half

Jackson has zone coverage on this play, and he passes his receiver off to the safety. This leaves him free in the middle of the field.

He reads Cutler's eyes as he targets Brandon Marshall. Cutler never notices Jackson, and why would he? Jackson has been blanketing Hester all half.

The change in coverage surprises Cutler, who couldn't have expected to see Jackson knifing in from the left.

The corner steps in front of the pass, ending the scoring threat.

Good corner play in most schemes is all about guys doing their job. Yes, sometimes a corner has to line up toe to toe and shut down the opposing wideout, but often the job is all about knowing where you are supposed to be and then making a sound, quality tackle at the end of the play.

The Texans don't need Pro Bowl level play from Jackson. They just need him to do his job and be where he's supposed to be.

In his third season and second with Phillips, the lights are coming on, and it shows on the field.


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