HOUSTON - OCTOBER 10: Wide receiver Steve Smith #12 of the New York Giants races down the sidelines as cornerback Kareem Jackson #25 pursues at Reliant Stadium on October 10, 2010 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Rivers ranting on shivering Jackson.
While the Texans defense continues to flounder to depths unknown, the fans are sick of Frank Bush's lackadaisical zone schemes that continue to make passing underneath so easy that even a caveman's eight-week-old daughter could do it. But as much as the scheme is (rightfully) coming under fire, another problem is that Texans first rounder Kareem Jackson simply can't stop anybody. At all.
Through the first five games of the season, Kareem Jackson had allowed 458 yards passing on just 49 attempts. Or to put it another way, teams are averaging a gain of 9.3 yards just by targeting him. I'm personally of the opinion that you can't completely judge a cornerback until they hit their third season. That said, I think the lack of accountability pointed at Jackson is a little unjust in comparison; he has been truly awful early in his career. Moreover, I think his presence on the field was an avoidable mistake by Texans GM Rick Smith, who had an offseason to sign or trade for a cornerback who could be cromulent out there. Or perhaps Jacques Reeves could have been kept to at least keep the blame off the rookie and let him ease into the lineup.
Give Rick Smith this: Jackson is still very young, just 22 years old. Of the other corners who started 12 or more games at the same age as rookies, name like Darrelle Revis, Dunta Robinson, and Charles Woodson show up. Of course, they actually played better than Jackson has so far, and the list also contains names like Artell Hawkins, Fernando Bryant, and Kenny Wright. Not exactly perfect company right there, but enough to make you think twice about calling him a bust. If he was 24, that'd be another story.
Jackson has, in my scouts eye, shown flashes of greatness. If you give him a straight line, he'll run it and keep up with anyone in the league. He's been solid jamming receivers at the line of scrimmage, if not perfect. His problems have all come when a receiver makes a double move, or runs a route that forces Jackson to turn his hips. I think we all know where I'm going with this, right? Right. He should be in the nickel learning how to defense these routes while someone else is playing outside.
Texans fans aren't unfaithful. We know when teams are bad and we know when teams are good. If this year is a completely lost cause, Kareem Jackson should absolutely be thrown to the Lions (or Colts) every week. But it's not, this is a 4-2 team with (through six games) one of the best offenses in the league. And Kareem Jackson is absolutely slaughtering it. It's not just that he's bad, it's the cascade effects from it: the fact that the phrase "pin your ears back" never even passes through Frank Bush's head because he's compensating so hard for the bad secondary. The uncovered dumpoff passes and screens that are absolutely murdering the Texans because they don't stay close enough to the line of scrimmage. This is all because Bush can't trust Jackson one-on-one.
Like I said, Texans fans aren't unfaithful. But we're also not stupid. Youth is a great excuse, but one that we've seen time-and-time again, and one that Kareem Jackson will find is already worn down thanks to Amobi Okoye. Year five of the Kubiak era and we still haven't seen a good defense. When will the Texans stop emphasizing youth and start emphasizing skill on that side of the ball?