Saturday, March 31, 2007

Tavaris Jackson, STL @ Minny week 17

Thanks to the wonderful NFL ticket and DVR I had a chance to go back and break down the week 17 STL @ Minny contest.

In Tavaris Jacksons first start he was 10/20, 50 yards passing, 1 INT. His was responsible for only 3 first downs, and his offense didn't score a single point. I decided to look at the tape and break down his performance in his 2nd start. Here are some observations I noticed on his pass plays.

- Vikings open the game off with a designed dump off to the RB for about a 5 yard gain. Very safe play to call as the Rams were focused on the trips bunch formation to that side, nobody had the RB. It looked like a designed play, and that Jackson knew he'd throw to the RB before the play.
- 3rd and 3, Jackson throws an interception for a touchdown to go down 7-0. Tony Boselli the announcer said that it seemed like Jackson " knew where he'd throw before the play". Jackson dropped back and only looked to his left, locking onto the WR and throwing the INT.
- During the timeout there is Jackson on the sidelines smiling with one of his teammates and talking. That's NOT what I want to see after throwing a pick for a touchdown.
- 3rd and 9 on the next series, Jackson vastly overthrows Travis Taylor. He looks flustered and very uncomfortable in the pocket.
- 5:50 in the first half the Vikings get their first 1st down ( 3rd series). Jackson throws about a 5 yard stop to Bethel Johnson and the Ram corner falls down and Johnson gets a good gain. It was a bad play by the corner to slip and fall.
- Rams blitz and Jackson completes the hot route to his receiver Nance who fumbles ( recovered by the Vikings).
- Pass play where Jackson scrambles, looks very indecisive and then runs for about a 5 yard gain. It seems like the Rams are blitzing a lot on 1st downs and challenging Jacksons arm.
- 3rd and 7, Jackson completes a pass to Travis Taylor, best play of the day thus far.
- next pass Jackson almost throws a pick in the end zone
- designed pass play, Jackson runs it in for a 1 yard touchdown run.
- 1st down, play action, dump off
-tried to dump it off to Jermain Wiggins for about 1 yard, dropped pass
- 1st down, Jackson runs for about 6/7 yards and is then nailed by Dexter Coakley. I don't want my QB getting hit like that to gain a mere 6/7 yards. That's very risky.
- 1st down, play action fake, dump off throw to Wiggins for a short gain
- 1st down, roll out, very indecisive, looks very uncomfortable in pocket and finally throws ball away.
- completes 5 yard stop route to Billy Mcmullen
- 3rd down, Jackson is pressured and tried to make a play by lofting a ball at the last second to his hot route, the ball is picked off by the ram defender. Terrible interception.

- So far Jackson has looked very uncomfortable in the pocket, and he's been mainly throwing very short stuff. If I were Jim Haslett the Rams defensive coordinator I'd be dialing up that blitz and challenging Jackson deep. I'd cover up the hot routes very well, and bring the pressure on the young guy.

- 1st down, Jackson hits 8 yard stop route
- ( 2 minute drill) Jackson throws a 2 yard dump off
- The announcer comments about how Jacksons lineman says that he's " quiet in the huddle" and how he needs to shout the play and have more command of the offense.
- incomplete on a screen pass attempt
- Jackson scrambles on the pass play and picks up about 5 yards
- 3rd and 5 Jackson throws about a 20 yards pass down field as the half ends ( garbage yards?)
Jackson has 87 passing yards, 1 TD run, 2 picks and one for a touchdown.

2nd half
- Play action, Jackson has lots of time and then runs for about 7 yards
- incomplete, throws a pass behind the WR
- dump off attempt to Chester Taylor dropped ( wouldn't be a first down anyway)
- Jackson sacked by Jimmy Kennedy who recorded his first sack of the year
- Jackson throws a 5 yard dump off to Travis Taylor
- Jackson scrambles, then has a nice throw to Travis Taylor for about a 10 yard gain and first down. His team is losing 34-7, but that was one of his best plays of the day ( for only 10 yards). Looked like the kind of play you'd get from a mobile quarterback.
- blitzed, dropped pass by receiver
- play action, Jackson throws deep but overthrows receiver ( maybe his first long pass attempt)
- Jackson almost sacked, holds onto the ball forever and tries to dump it off ( incomplete)
- play action, Jackson runs, no gain but he is pounded on the play, and slow to get up.

- Brad Johnson comes into the game and the pretty quiet stadium gets loud and cheers for BJ. Johnson throws 1 pass as a completion and then the quarter ends.

- 4th Q begins and Jackson comes back into the game. He fumbles on his first play back in but the Vikings recovered.
- blitzed, throws the ball to the sidelines for an incomplete pass.

- down 41-7, throws a WR screen for 2 yards
- dump off completion to the fullback for no gain
- Jackson throws into the endzone, but pass interference called on Dexter coakley on Billy Mcmullen. It didn't look like he'd catch it, and it looked like he ran into Dexter looking for a call.
- shotgun, 15 yard pass
- almost sacked, incomplete
- blitzed, throws a 3 yard screen pass to the RB for about a 50 yard gain.
- roll out, pass complete to HB for no gain
- roll out to his right and throws a high ball in traffic that is caught for T.Taylor in the end zone for a TD. Down 41-14.

Jackson finished the game 20/34, 213 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT, and 1 fumble.

He looked very uncomfortable in the pocket and was throwing mainly dump offs. He didn't give the plays enough time to develop, but he seemed quick to scramble and run. He had a 50 yard completion to M. Moore his running back ( a 3 yard screen that went 50 yards) but a lot of the rest of his stuff was just short dump offs. He threw a TD pass on the final series but his team was losing 41-7 and facing a weak rams defense. Jackson added 34 yards on the ground but was it really worth your quarterback getting hit for 6 yard gains? The Vikings invested a 2nd round pick and money into Jackson and he had to come out of the game on one of the two vicious hits he took for minimal yardage. Some people value mobility but Jackson isn't THAT mobile and I don't want my quarterback getting smashed for 6 yard gains.

Jackson obviously wasn't ready to start this year and I would highly doubt he would be ready next year. The player he reminded me of the most is David Garrard and is that really your quarterback of the future you want running your west coast offense? They talk a lot about his strong arm, but he spent the whole game throwing dump offs. He might have had two throws in the 10-20 yard range but nothing further than that. In fact, I can only think of one deep ball he even attempted. The most common routes he completed where stops and dump offs to the TE/RB but he was a little too slow in his reads. One the other side of the field you have Bulger throwing the balls BEFORE his receivers would even break, and then there is Jackson there who would wait so long just to throw a 7 yard curl.

Other notes:
- The announcing crew also pointed out that Jackson originally went to Arkansas but left the school where Matt Jones ( Jags WR) was the starting QB.
- The Rams dropped balls too. Torry Holt had a drop, his TE dropped a pass the very next play, and Bruce dropped a pass on a key 3rd down. So those people that argue that Jackson has no receivers, even Holt, Bruce, and the rams drop passes too. I seem to remember Reche Caldwell dropping balls for Tom Brady as well.
- Stephen Jackson ran wild for 142 yards and 4 touchdowns on Mike Tomlins defense.
- I realized that Laurence Maroney reminds me a lot of Stephen Jackson in their size and rushing styles. Jackson is a few inches taller and 11 pounds heavier but their style really is similar. Big, fast, and a very functional agility for their size. I do believe the hype that Stephen Davis helped Jackson along in the way Bettis helped Willie Parker in Pittsburgh.
- Minnesota did try running the ball a lot to the left behind Mckinnie, Hutchinson and Birk. I'd say at least 75% of their run plays went left.
- Mark Bulger played a very efficient game ( no picks) and he was throwing the ball to his receivers before they broke so that the ball was there when it needed to be there. I was very impressed and he also played very well with the lead. He could have had more passing yards, but his Rams had a comfortable lead.

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