I believe that Kareem Jackson will be better than he was last year. Partially because it would be hard for him to do worse, and partially because I believe he wasn't coached very well last year. That's not an uncommon view. I want to reiterate that I understand that public relations people have a hard job when it comes to spinning things as positive for the Texans defense, and they have to put the best face on things that they can. There, my disclaimers are out of the way and in proper order.
Okay, Jackson is NOT on pace to be Darrelle Revis.
The Texans are very good at communicating the party line throughout their media network. We have reached a point where we have two of them when it comes to Jackson. One of them is that certain statistics he accumulated last year were comparable to the first starting seasons of other very good corners. The other is that Jackson allowed less yards than DeAngelo Hall last season, and
Vince Young DeAngelo Hall went to the Pro Bowl, so he must be good.
First let me deal with the younger cornerbacks comparison. Here's HoustonTexans.com's Nick Scurfield on Jackson in his cornerbacks in review piece:
Jackson's 53.2 completion percentage rate also compares favorably to some of the league's top cornerbacks in their first years as starters: Nnamdi Asomugha (46.3 in 2005), Champ Bailey (47.8 in 1999), Charles Woodson (49.0 in 1998) and Darrelle Revis (59.1 in 2007).
Jackson and Revis' first-year starting lines are almost identical. Jackson allowed 50 completions on 94 attempts; Revis allowed 55 completions on 93 attempts. Jackson had with two interceptions; Revis had three. Both players had 10 passes defensed.
That's a nice point in Jackson's favor, or it would be if it was a stat that even partially resembled a full accountability for a cornerback. Another thing that corners are required to do is actually keep their man in front of them. Revis allowed 7.4 yards per pass attempt according to Football Outsiders in his rookie season. Jackson? 11.1. While Jackson was giving up big plays left and right, Revis was only getting beat underneath in his rookie year.
The other three guys? Asomugha was at 8.9 yards per play allowed, Bailey allowed 9.6, and Woodson allowed 8.8. I think it's fair to say that Jackson's statistical output is nowhere close to cracking this group.
That of course, doesn't mean he can't be a good or serviceable cornerback in the future. But there's not any statistical evidence that he will be a star yet. Jackson earned that low completion percentage because quarterbacks eyes lit up whenever he was on the field, and they immediately tried to exploit him in coverage. Plus, it's naturally harder to complete deep balls than it is short ones.
Now, lets look at the other one, which is one that John McClain of the Houston Chronicle is fond of dropping in his chats, regarding how Jackson compares to Hall:
Here's a good statistic. Of the passes thrown at Jackson, about 52 percent were completed. He gave up four touchdowns. Of the passes thrown at DeAngelo Hall, he gave up 74 percent and eight touchdowns. Hall went to the Pro Bowl. Jackson got roasted. By the way, Hall also allowed the most yards. Guess who was second? Jackson.
The problem with that, of course, is that Hall has been one of the most overrated cornerbacks in the NFL for his entire career. His entire Pro Bowl resume is built on a) highlight reel touchdowns and b) the fact that he was a first round pick at one point. Hall also allowed only 10.5 yards per pass last season. Because he was targeted much more than Jackson was, since the Texans spent the better part of the last six weeks platooning Jackson to try to keep him from getting beat deep again. And again.
What will Jackson really end up being? Throw a dart at a board. Jackson's FO comparables are all over the map right now. I don't think anything showcases that more than the fact that his No. 1 comparable, Ty Law, eventually became a deserving Pro Bowl cornerback, and his No. 2 comparable, Ahmed Plummer, was one of the biggest first round busts in recent memory.
We just don't know at this point. But it's clear that the talking points are clearly overselling Jackson's statistical profile last year. As good PR writing is known to do.