Thursday, April 26, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Vincent Jackson: Bucs' last remaining impact player

How Jackson stacks up

Vincent Jackson has mixed numbers compared to some of the league's other top receivers. A drop is when an intended receiver touches the ball and fails to catch it. (* Does not include Thursday's game):

Rec.TargetsCatch %Drops
Dez Bryant457659.22
A.J. Green *468469.45
DeSean Jackson457460.83
Vincent Jackson419045.64
Andre Johnson487167.62
Calvin Johnson477959.54
Brandon Marshall466867.64
Wes Welker507269.45
Rec.TargetsCatch %Drops
Dez Bryant457659.22
A.J. Green *468469.45
DeSean Jackson457460.83
Vincent Jackson419045.64
Andre Johnson487167.62
Calvin Johnson477959.54
Brandon Marshall466867.64
Wes Welker507269.45


TAMPA

Vincent Jackson stands alone. • His fellow starting receiver has a bad leg. His starting running back has a bad shoulder. His quarterback has pouted his way to Minnesota. • And so, Jackson, the Bucs' last remaining impact player, enters a huddle that, these days, is filled with strangers. The starting quarterback is 0-4. The starting running back has 96 yards in his career. The guy most likely to start at the other receiver position has four catches this year. • Here he goes, then, Jackson against the world. And how many defensive backs will the Seahawks assign him? Three? Four? Seven? • This is what happens when football turns into a game of survivor, when a receiver turns into the Lonesome End. Week after week, the Bucs offense has been stripped for parts until, now, it is held together by spackle and duct tape. It is journeymen who were never supposed to play and leftovers trying to prove they belong. • And Vincent Jackson.

It's odd, because you can make an argument that Jackson is having a very good season. And then you can argue that he's having a bad one. Maybe both at the same time. He has made more great plays than anyone else on this offense, and still, he has dropped too many passes. He leads the Bucs in receptions (41), and given how often they try to throw him the ball, he should. He has endured a quarterback change, and yet, it seems that he could have done more on his way to 0-7.

If you are fair, you will notice that Jackson, 30, and in his ninth season, is on pace to finish with the most catches of his career (his high is 72, last season). He leads the league in third-down receiving yards. He is tied for fourth in first downs. He is fifth in catches of 20 or more yards. Nothing to be ashamed of there.

Yet, while being fair, you notice that Jackson is the single most-targeted receiver in the NFL. The Bucs have thrown more passes at him (90) than the Lions have at Calvin Johnson (79), than the Cowboys have at Dez Bryant (77), than the Broncos have at Wes Welker (71). Meanwhile, Jackson has caught only 45.6 percent of the balls thrown his way, the lowest percentage of anyone with 25 catches in the league.

Remember the game against Atlanta? The Bucs threw the ball 44 times that day, and on half of them, they threw to Jackson. Hey, no one is open 22 times a game.

Given how hard the Bucs work to find him, shouldn't Jackson be higher in number of receptions than tied for 17th? Given his contract, shouldn't he at least be on the short list for the Pro Bowl?

That's always been the knock on Jackson. He is the star who isn't quite a star. Do you need a guy who can go deep and make an amazing catch, the way he did against Atlanta? Then Jackson is your guy. Need a guy on third and 6 to catch a quick pass, the way the Bucs started against Carolina. Then Jackson, who dropped the pass, isn't your first choice.

"I think he's having a good year," Bucs coach Greg Schiano said. "I think it's getting lost a little bit in our year. Vince is a perfectionist. I don't ever have to get on Vincent Jackson. He's on himself when he makes a mistake.

"I think he's going to have a big second part of the year, too. He and Mike (Glennon, the quarterback) have a good feel for each other. The way Mike is reading out plays, it's going to allow Vincent to get more. If they're going to double Vincent, Mike's going to go to the other guys until Vincent isn't doubled any more."

Schiano said he doesn't worry about targets as long as his quarterback "reads it out" properly. And let's face it: Where else are the Bucs going to throw?

Still, 90 times targeted but only 41 catches? Only once all season, against Philadelphia, has Jackson caught more than half of the balls thrown to him.

Just wondering: Aren't other quarterbacks reading it out properly?

It is a frustrating position, receiver. No matter how good a guy is, and no matter how many times he gets open, he is dependent upon a quarterback to get him the ball. And once it is delivered, people expect him to be perfect. One drop is too many. Two is unforgivable.

"He's had a couple (of drops)," Schiano said. "If you look at the top receivers in this league, they have some drops. Why? They make some spectacular plays. They have such confidence that they're thinking about scoring every time they touch it. You'd love to have spectacular plays and no drops. But that would take the perfect player."

Vincent Jackson stands alone.

It is Thursday's practice, and Jackson stood near the sideline with a coach, working on back-shoulder catches. No other receivers were near the drill. This is Jackson, who has built a reputation as a meticulous worker.

Later, in the locker room, Jackson sits alone.

This is Jackson, too. He rarely talks after games. As far as being a perfectionist, Jackson isn't saying anything about that, either. During the season, he says, he only talks on Friday. That baffles me. He is a captain on an 0-7 team, and when asked for explanations, he prefers to play with his cellphone. Really?

The truth, however, isn't what Jackson says during the week. It's whether he can speak louder on Sunday.

From here on out, the lanes on the field are sure to be a traffic jam. If you were another team, why on earth would you let Jackson beat you? Why not surround him and let the other Bucs do their worst? Jackson might not be all you wish for him to be as a receiver, but in this huddle, he's the last guy standing.

In the meantime, all he can do is keep running routes.

For all that is good about him, and for all that may be lacking, Jackson is still the biggest argument the Bucs have against 0-8.

So why not throw it to him 30 times?

Comments
Bucs fill a need at running back on the first day of the draft…but it’s Charles Sims, who agrees to a 1-year deal

Bucs fill a need at running back on the first day of the draft…but it’s Charles Sims, who agrees to a 1-year deal

The Bucs landed a running back on the first day of the NFL draft.It wasn't Saquon Barkley or Sony Michel or Derrius Guice. Not just yet, anyway.Tampa Bay reached an agreement on a one-year contract with Charles Sims.The 27-year-old Sims was a third-r...
Updated: 5 hours ago
After Twitter backlash, Jeff Garcia won’t announce any Bucs draft picks

After Twitter backlash, Jeff Garcia won’t announce any Bucs draft picks

The Bucs still don't have a third-round draft pick this weekend, but if they do trade for one, former Tampa Bay Bucs quarterback Jeff Garcia won't be the one to announce it.It's been a rough few days for Garcia, who played for the Bucs in 2007-08, ma...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: John Clayton breaks down the NFL draft

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: John Clayton breaks down the NFL draft

It's NFL draft day. John Clayton joins Rick Stroud to talk about how many quarterbacks will go early and who the Bucs will take with the seventh overall pick, considering their obvious needs on defense.Plus, the Lightning will face the Boston Br...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Bucs draft scenarios: Would this guy be their lucky pick at No. 7?

Bucs draft scenarios: Would this guy be their lucky pick at No. 7?

TAMPA – This is the Rubiks Cube of NFL drafts. It can be twisted and turned it in any direction. Not many know how everything will line up.For the Bucs, the puzzle is simple.  Since they have the No. 7 overall pick, they need four quarterb...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Mock draft consensus: Who the experts have Bucs taking at No. 7

Mock draft consensus: Who the experts have Bucs taking at No. 7

We've linked to a lot of mock drafts over the last four months.We went back and assembled mocks from 40 different NFL writers we've linked to — this isn't the most recent for some of these who are in Mock 9.0 mode, but it's meant as an unscient...
Updated: 10 hours ago
NFL draft: How the Bucs can grab hold of the NFC South

NFL draft: How the Bucs can grab hold of the NFC South

TAMPA — From the department of the weird, also known as Bucs marketing genius — also known as if it bombs, we can blame Ed Glazer — the Bucs will use a … parrot to announce their fourth-round pick in the NFL Draft, which kicks...
Published: 04/25/18
Q&A with Bucs tackle Donovan Smith: On bowling, charity work, team expectations

Q&A with Bucs tackle Donovan Smith: On bowling, charity work, team expectations

Bucs tackle Donovan Smith has a big season ahead, going into a contract year as part of a reshuffled offensive line. Still only 24, he has started all 48 games in his three NFL seasons, and has made it a priority in the offseason to be more active in...
Published: 04/25/18
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Who will the Bucs take with the No. 7 pick?

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Who will the Bucs take with the No. 7 pick?

Rick Stroud answers your NFL draft questions in this mailbag segment, including who the Bucs might take with the seventh overall pick, which running backs they might be looking at, whether Taven Bryan could slip to them in the second r...
Published: 04/25/18
NFL Draft: Date, time, TV schedule and draft order for the April 26-28 draft

NFL Draft: Date, time, TV schedule and draft order for the April 26-28 draft

The NFL Draft starts Thursday from Arlington, Texas, with coverage of the first round beginning at 8 p.m. ET. Here's a look at the broadcast schedule for all three days and the draft order for every round: Schedule (all times Eastern) Thursday, Ap...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Five options if the Bucs want to trade down from No. 7

Five options if the Bucs want to trade down from No. 7

For months, NFL fans have wondered what the Bucs might do with the No. 7 pick in Thursday's draft, producing a wide range of answers, each with passionate support from some of their fans.But as draft nears, and as the interest level in a talented gro...
Published: 04/24/18