We all know by now where quarterback Jameis Winston’s faults are when throwing the football. The majority of the time it’s his deep ball. The Buccaneers sign DeSean Jackson last offseason and everyone acts like last season was the first time we’ve seen Winston not hit on a homerun ball consistently.
An article was published Friday looking at the lack of production from Jackson last season. Winston’s inconsistencies did play a role in that. In fact, the article noted nearly all the misses from Winston to Jackson except for one. (NOTE: The article never showed/discussed the times backup Ryan Fitzpatrick missed Jackson.)
It’s easy to only show data or clips to validate a point. Just like anyone can go and make a highlight reel of Roberto Aguayo making kicks to look like a stud kicker, the article made Jackson’s value to the Bucs look like it’s the worse pickup ever.
But Jackson’s value goes beyond just running a go route. And the actual problem in 2017 was that the Buccaneers did not use Jackson correctly.
Earlier in the week, Bucs Nation got data from Cam Mellor of Pro Football Focus on when Jackson was at his best and proves that the offensive gameplan just never adjusted to bring out the best in their weapon. The below stats were perfect for this case.
As you can see above, Tampa Bay quarterbacks had a quarterback rating of 90 or better on six different routes. Of those six, those ratings were higher than the league average for those same routes. He was only targeted once on comeback routes so since that is a small sample size, we can go ahead and remove that for the sake of argument.
But the second most amount of his targets were on go routes where the team averaged a rating of 33.6. This is where playcalling comes in.
Head coach Dirk Koetter was unable to get creative with Jackson. That was evident throughout 2017 and in the stats provided above. Koetter sees Jackson and wants a homerun ball on the majority of his routes. Again, it was no secret what Winston’s struggles were heading into last season so hitting on that kind of pass was already going to be low-percentage anyways.
In 2018, Koetter and the offensive staff needs to do a better job at being creative with Jackson to maximize his potential. Last season wasn’t the fault of Jackson, Winston, nor Fitzpatrick for that matter. Rather it was the fault of an offensive philosophy that was stubborn.
The team should be trying to get Jackson into open space. All five of those routes where the team’s quarterbacks had a high rating, Jackson had an average depth of 10-plus yards.
That’s where Jackson’s true value lies in this offense.