Making The Grade: Secondary
The Texans secondary had a season that could only be described as a roller-coaster ride. You saw flashes of greatness and times where you wanted to hide your head in the sand. Kareem Jackson showed that he can play the way the Texans thought he could when they made him a first round pick in 2010.
Jackson led the Texans with four interceptions this season and led all defensive backs with 16 passes defensed. Jackson also showed in 2012 that he’s not shy about throwing his weight around.
Jackson plays much larger than his 5-10, 192-pound frame. Just ask Jarius Wright of the Vikings and A.J. Green of the Bengals. Jackson has gone on record to say that even if he’s fined he will not change the way he plays and everyone was witness to it this season. After being fined over $20,000 for lighting up Wright, two weeks later Jackson blew up Green in the end zone, breaking up a potential touchdown catch. Jackson’s growth was on full display against the Detroit Lions and Calvin Johnson on Thanksgiving. Johnson went into the locker room at halftime with five catches for 103 yards and a touchdown. Jackson took over cover duties in the second half and held the single season record holder for receiving yards in check. Matthew Stafford targeted Johnson eight times in the second frame and Jackson held Johnson to just 37 yards and three catches.
But at the same time big plays killed the Texans.
"The Texans' secondary was No. 2 in pass defense in 2011 and it dropped to 16th,” John McClain on the Houston Chronicle said. “They gave up too many big plays. A lot of that was because of the pass rush wasn't as productive, but the DBs especially the safeties gave up too many big plays and they also didn't intercept enough passes. After the Tennessee game on Dec. 2 they didn't have more than one turnover in any of the last six games and that includes two playoff games.”
When you look at the Texans two cornerbacks, Johnathan Joseph and Jackson, the future looks bright. Joseph had a down season but was still elected to his second consecutive Pro Bowl. It’s safe to say that Joseph’s performance on the field was directly related to his health. Joseph battled hamstring and groin injuries throughout the season.
To compare the two, according to Pro Football Focus, Jackson allowed a completion every 14.4 cover snaps (fourth among corners) and Joseph allowed one every 9.6 cover snaps (52nd among corners). If Joseph can stay healthy in 2013 and Jackson continues to progress the way he has the last few seasons, the Texans should be very excited about their corner situation.