Wherein I Argue For More Playing Time For Kareem Jackson

The point of this post is not to induct Kareem Jackson into the Hall of Fame.  Honors such as those are reserved for Mr. Mister Alexander alone.  I am arguing that, in the long run, it would behoove your Houston Texans for Kareem to receive more playing time than Jason Allen over the course of the season.  Join me after the jump, where Rivers will personally bash his forehead against his keyboard a new Internet record number of times.  That alone will be worth your trouble.

To begin, it's imperative to step back and see where we've come from.  In 2010, one could make a strong, valid argument that Kareem Jackson was the worst CB in the NFL, Non-Brice McCain division (who probably was the worst to see significant playing time).  Using ProFootballFocus.com numbers for CBs, Kareem gave up the 5th most yards against, 5th most yards per attempt, 5th most in YAC against, 24th in percentage of balls caught against, 15th in TDs allowed, and Kareem had the 10th worst QB rating against.  In other words, completing passes against Kareem Jackson took all of the skill of throwing the ball in his general direction.

This year, it's still not all tacos and beer, but Kareem's play has improved drastically.  Real coaching probably helps, but let's look at some key numbers:

Year 2010 2011
% Caught 66.3% 58.3%
Yards Allowed/Game 57.8 40.8
Avg. Yards/Catch 16.2 15.5
Yards After Catch/Game 22.8 6.1
TDs/Game .31 .25
INTs/Game .13 0
Passes Defensed/Game .38 .38
QB Rating 111.8 106.9

Am I ready to anoint Kareem an All-Pro talent?  Oh, most definitely not.  But he's definitely showing forward progression as a cornerback, making him the first CB in recent team history to actually improve from one year to the next.  Unlike last year, Jackson has only overtly struggled in two games.  Against the Saints, Lance Moore used Kareem like toilet paper, finally flushing the team with one of our losses.  Speed-demon Torrey Smith of the Ravens scorched Kareem for 3 catches, 84 yards, and a touchdown.  Smith, and other WRs with great long speed, will continue to give Kareem issues, at least in the short term.  Unlike in 2010, however, Kareem is at least on the screen in coverage, which is nice.

If you want to put on some snappy rose-colored glasses, could he be evolving as Duane Brown did after Brown's disastrous rookie year?  There are reasons to be optimistic.

If Kareem were to receive more playing time, it would come at the expense of Jason Allen.  Admittedly, I'm still not Allen's biggest fan from an eyeball point of view, but let's look at his numbers.

Player Allen Jackson
% Caught 51.0% 58.3%
Yards Allowed/Game 35.9 40.8
Avg. Yards/Catch 12.9 15.5
Yards After Catch/Game 10.1 6.1
TDs/Game .33 .25
INTs/Game .33 0
Passes Defensed/Game .33 .38
QB Rating 67.0 106.9

Ultimately, the difference between the two are Allen's interceptions.  Like Jackson was hurt by Moore and Smith, Allen was used by Brandon Marshall and Darrius Heyward-Bey.

Ultimately, I believe Kareem's current play and his much higher ceiling should earn him a greater share of playing time above his virtual platoon with Allen.  And this is a great time to test him, too.  Over our remaining schedule, only Matt Ryan and Cam Newton pose legitimate risks to beat us in the air, and neither team can boast the Saints' depth at WR, which was a large part in Kareem's undoing in New Orleans.  Allen is a free agent after the season.  Let's see what Kareem's got, and let's see it now.

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