With as big and diverse a following as Battle Red Blog has, I have to imagine there are a lot of people who frequent this blog that do not live in or around Houston. Of the nine contributors to BRB, only three live in Houston, and I am not one of them. For many of us who can't follow the Texans from the comfort of our homes, we have no choice but to find a local watering hole to watch the game. This would not have been so bad last season if it weren't for two small, but very important, considerations.
First, the Texans played like utter garbage on defense last season, which makes suppressing the urge to throw bricks through televisions and the kicking of housepets very difficult. Second, this requires watching them in public, where said throwing of bricks and kicking of pets is generally frowned upon. At times when they would repeatedly show Kareem Jackson getting burned or falling down (likely due to a slight breeze in the stadium), I would literally call the waitress over and ask what kind of bleach was available on tap. Really. Fortunately, the waitress only shakes her head and doesn't do something more fitting, like pouring soda on my head, probably because of the very generous tips we leave for making her put up with such nonsense.
In order for the Texans to finally make the great leap forward into the playoffs (and for me to avoid getting banned from my favorite bar), the defense has to play significantly better, and nowhere is that need greater than in the secondary; starting with one Kareem "Inaction" Jackson. Take the leap forward yourself to find out more. And as always, if you're not 100% satisfied with this post, you will be refunded double what you paid to see this post, guaranteed.Why Jackson must show improvement this year: If any good can be gleaned from having the worst secondary in football last year, it is that there is literally nowhere to go except up from there. Going into this season, Glover Quin will play free safety. What this means is that if the Texans come up empty on free agency (and for Smithiak's sake, they better not come up short), Kareem Jackson will be the CB1 of our secondary. If that's not a frightening enough thought, then take a look at these charts from Football Outsiders that show Kareem Jackson gave up the most yards per pass at a staggering 11.1 yards, a good half yard ahead of the next name on the list; meaning that on average a completion against Jackson was very likely to end up with a first down, at minimum. He also allowed on average an additional 6.0 yards after the catch, which was also good for worst in the league. These are not stats that should belong to a starting cornerback. If that weren't enough, with Quin now at safety, Jackson is also the most experienced corner this team has as of right now.
What could potentially stand in Jackson's way: Aside from the possibility of seeing a suspension from Roger Goodell for tweeting pictures of cockfighting in the Dominican Republic and having his name associated with a porn convention, I think the only thing that can stand in his way is...well...him. If he can't or doesn't learn the new defensive system and heed the advice of his coaches (once the lockout ends) and teammates like defensive captain DeMeco Ryans and Glover Quin, he can't possibly hope to improve from his dismal rookie season. I think he has the tools to be a contributor in the secondary if he can put it all together. That said, I really, really don't think he should be our CB1 next year, he needs to stay in the CB2 role.
Reasons to believe he can make the leap: First of all, I think Jackson has the work ethic to eliminate any concerns about Jackson not learning or putting in the effort to learn Wade's system. I prefer to chalk up Jackson's dirt-poor play last season to two things: him being a rookie, and having a defensive coach that would make a wheel of cheese look like a genius by comparison. Corners, like a lot of positions in football, usually require a couple of years before they can fully realize their potential, and Jackson's potential has nowhere to go but up. And now that we have a big bottle of Wadetussin, Jackson may finally get the tutelage he needs from a coach who actually knows what he's talking about. I also expect he will receive a LOT of help from a secondary that's been revamped by free agency. There's no way that Smithilliak will let this roster stand pat when all of their jobs are on the line this season. Having a legitimate starting corner will take a lot of pressure off of Jackson, so he can hopefully experience the kind of season Devin McCourty had with the Patriots last season.