Cornerback Kareem Jackson got a game ball for his efforts in the Texans’ Sunday win over Atlanta.
“Kareem probably had his best game as a pro,” coach Gary Kubiak told Houston media Monday afternoon.
Kubiak credited the development of Jackson, the team’s top pick in the 2010 draft who struggled mightily in a starting role as a rookie, to defensive backs coach Vance Joseph.
“Vance has come in and done a great job with him,” Kubiak said. “He’s playing with a lot of confidence, he’s had a lot of ups and downs, he had the expectations of a first round pick and then there was what we went through last year. His toughness has shown, mentally and physically. Johnathan coming here has helped him, he’s kind of got a little bit of a mentor back there.
“…We’re very excited to see him playing well.”
Atlanta receiver Julio Jones actually had a chance to catch Matt Ryan’s desperation pass on the last play of the game into the left side of the end zone. My read of the replay is unclear. It could count as another drop for Atlanta on a day when they had a lot of trouble hauling passes in. Or, as Kubiak said, Jackson could get credit for making it impossible for Jones to grip it. (Either way, it was a scarier play than it should have been and overtime was closer than we might have thought.)
Jackson had an early interception of Ryan on a flea flicker the Falcons botched. Michael Turner’s pitch back to Ryan was high and threw off the timing and Ryan was unwise to make the throw intended for Roddy White deep down the middle in the first quarter.
The Texans' applause for Jackson is unsurprising. They anoint first-rounders as starters the moment they arrive and do their best to defend them even if things don’t go well. Jackson’s certainly been a beneficiary of that.
Earlier this season, when Jackson wasn’t playing as well and there was clamoring for more of Jason Allen, Kubiak repeatedly said the team counts both players as starting-caliber and it used both opposite Johnathan Joseph.
Against the Falcons, when Jackson was having the game of his career, he was still rotating with Allen and he was still not part of some of the defensive packages with five- and six- defensive backs.
I felt like the team was over-substituting in the defensive backfield, but it’s hard to complain with the results in this game or to change what’s been working.
Still, I’d say this is a completely fair assessment:
If Jackson’s work in this win was a corner-turning performance, we’d better know it if he’s on the field more going forward. And if he’s not on the field more going forward, I’m not sure I’m buying that the coaches believe it was a corner-turning performance.