Kareem Jackson has been the source of much debate over the season. He has shown steady improvement in coverage skills and has furthered strengthened his run support game to stellar levels. I understand the hate and the disapproval for Kareem but we need to take him from a GM and head coach's view point as well as a fan's. I will break down why Kareem needs to be given more of a chance.
I am not a fan of stats. I understand their importance but also realize there shortfalls. Statistically Jackson fell short of his 2010 numbers but that is mostly due to the fact that he was splitting time with Jason Allen and the rest of the defense wasn't so inept. The game I want to look at is the Baltimore game, where I believe he stepped up immensely. Anquan Boldin pulled in 4 catches for 76 yards and a touchdown on eight targets. The touchdown catch was outside of his control and was the result of a broken defensive play following bad field position by a muffed JJ punt. Boldin only caught 50% of the balls thrown his way. Jackson was also the victim of multiple circus catches by Boldin that can't be blamed on the cover man. Jackson posted a solid four tackles and one pass defended and was actually played the majority of the game because of Jason Allen's benching.
Jackson's play has improved without a proper off season. My view point says Kareem has only had one shortened off season so far. His first off season with the former defensive regime is hardly what could be considered NFL-level coaching. Jackson has done well enough in this new system. At the beginning of the year many around here poked fun at Jackson's lack of ball skills and not having his head turned when the ball came, drawing many PI penalties. Now at the end of the year we applaud his excellent tackling form and run support, while also recognizing his improving ball skills. In the Baltimore game Jackson quite possibly could have held Boldin to one catch while under his responsibility ( the TD catch wasn't on him and those 2 circus catches weren't anyone's fault). Jackson had great position on those two circus catches and was just the victim of two spectacular, AJ, like plays on the ball. One of the things I'm most excited of next year is to observe the progress of Jackson. He has the skills to develop into a very good #2.
Some will argue that Kareem Jackson is taking too much of our cap space to remain on our roster. This argument is flawed in two ways. One, Jackson is a promising young player who shows constant improvement with each game. Two, Jackson's rookie contract is a five year, $13 million contract. That is a little over $2.5 Million a season but provided he starts full time next year and continues his improvement that is a very fair price to pay.
Kareem Jackson is a player that I like personally because he reminds me that players do have flaws but they can strengthen and improve them. Kareem has only showed progress in these two years. His disastrous rookie year, where he was flat out burned play after play was embarassing. However at the beginning of this year he showed improvement. He showed much better footwork, tackling form and coverage skills. We still recognized his fear of turning his head, which did lead to PIs but at the end of the year in one of the biggest games of the year, Baltimore, we can hardly find fault for anything he did. He was expecting to split time with Jason Allen but stepped up when counted upon more and more. He finished with a very respectable stat line of 4 solo tackles and one pass defended. He also had great positioning on many of those circus catches, which were not the result of Jackson's head not being turned. Jackson merely lacked the ball skills in that game but with a full off season to improve and build upon a well earned, new self-confidence, I see that problem being fixed.
My coach tells us that hard work is all that he expects from us. He can only teach us what we are willing to learn. I might be mistaken but I believe that Kareem has learned much from his 2011 season and is willing to learn more. He has done nothing but improve since entering the league and if not for his first round selection, that would be all we could ask of him. When I first started JV football I found myself lost and unsure but my coach has earned my respect, blood, sweat and hardwork and I find myself apart of family, a team bigger than myself. I play for my brothers and I have improved because of my coaches. I believe that Kareem is in a similar situation and I look forward to his 2012 season to see if this new sense of accomplishment and family within the Texan's organization continues to push his improvement.
Call me crazy but Kareem has earned my respect for never giving up. He could have played himself out of the starting line up after his disastrous rookie season and Jason Allen's huge interception numbers. However he never gave up and has wrestled his starting position back from Jason Allen. It was Jackson who stepped up in Baltimore not Allen. It was Jackson who had no reason to believe he could keep playing in 2012 but he's the one who continued to improve. It was Jackson that has shown his desire to live up to his first round draft pick. I do not know what Jackson has done to be openly mocked after the season and post-season he had because I have nothing but the utmost respect for him.
Live with Aloha!