Since WR Vincent Jackson signed with the Bucs in 2012, he’s been a model of consistency, despite the constant changes, four QBs, and three offensive coordinators in five years, while playing in 42 consecutive games and averaging 73 catches and 1000+ receiving yards through the 2012-14 seasons.
Yet the dramatic decline in 2015 and this year is not an anomaly, nor coincidence. Though his 2015 season ended in week 10 from a knee injury, the numbers don’t lie. In 2012-14, he averaged 150 targets a year or 9.3 per game from Bucs QBs. That number dropped significantly in 2015, with the arrival of Jameis and OC Dirk Koetter, to 6.2 targets per game through to his week 10 injury. So far in 2016, it’s been close to being on par with 6.4 targets per game, but the chemistry has never been there between the young gunslinger and veteran wideout, with 15 receptions for 173 yards and no touchdowns on the 32 targets through 5 games this season.
Some say he is simply getting older. But, at age 33 and after major knee surgery, “Come out and watch practice,” says Jackson, scoffing at the notion his age is catching up to him. “Sometimes what you see on Sundays, doesn’t always translate from what’s reality. I feel great. I still feel like I’m playing at a high level.”
Jackson has even had to field questions about the chemistry between him and Winston. “Our chemistry is fine. Our relationship there is fine. We just got to hit ’em on Sundays. That’s just a matter of execution.” Jackson goes on to explain, “Whether it starts with protection and Jameis being able to sit in the pocket and seeing the same thing I’m seeing, or what the other receivers are seeing as far as defensive leverage and things like that and giving us an opportunity to catch the ball, and us securing it and finishing it.” The wide out also added, “I’ve got to continue doing my job. I don’t have to do too much or try to press or do anything extraordinary. I trust my training. I know that I can make plays. When those opportunities come, I hope more come my way, until then I’m going to continue to do my job.”
Seems like Koetter is even at a loss on how to fix the situation between the two players. “I would just say that I have seen in my career where sometimes it can drift in and out and the smallest things can get off. If it was easy to just go in there and snap our fingers and fix it, trust me, we would have done it. Sometimes we don’t even know how it got off because it hasn’t always been that way. Has it been that way a little lately? Yes. We’ve got to figure out a way to fix it,”said Dirk Koetter.
OC Todd Monken explains about Jackson, “He still has a lot left in the tank. He’s running fine, he’s catching the ball fine, he’s in the right spots. We just have to do a better job of being on the same page.” Talking about the chemistry issues which has resulted in a few interceptions due to bad throws or wrong routes, “Some of those, it’s a handful of plays, I would say the majority of the time they’re on the same page. There are just a few things we need to do to make sure that we get them on the same page.”
There are certainly reasons why Jackson has suffered a decline in this offense, but Koetter sums it up pretty well when he says, “We can talk about it, we can identify it, we can look at it on tape, we can go out there and try to correct it on the field, eventually it has to click or the elements have to change. Those are your options.”
We will see if Koetter can get V-Jax involved out west in San Francisco on Oct 23rd and get this guy the football! Go Bucs baby!