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I have to admit that I wasn’t expecting Kareem Jackson to show up to the Texans’ workouts Monday morning at Rice University. He hadn’t shown up at the last set, and has been dealing with an offseason filled with bizarre adversity. First, it was attending cockfights in the Dominican Republic (and tweeting about it), then being part of an advertisement for some type of erotica expo.
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Coming to work showed me something about him, in terms of how important this season is. Jackson spoke to the media Monday, and used a very interesting word: “crossroads.” Even though he’s only a second-year player out of Alabama, the case can be made that his career is at a crossroads.
In the NFL, a first round pick will usually get a mulligan for their rookie season. After that, the clock starts to tick until people start using words like “bust” and “failure.” Here’s how important 2011 is to Kareem Jackson – if he bounces back to have a good year, he’s part of the core of this team going forward.
If Jackson continues to struggle, then the question becomes how long it takes until the organization cuts the cord and goes with other players in the secondary. Generally speaking, a first rounder will get three years (and my hunch is that he would), but the career arrow will be pointing down unless things turn around quickly.
When DeMeco Ryans met with a few select members of the media (myself included) towards the end of last season, he made a very interesting observation. At the time, it was basically a given that Frank Bush would be given the axe in favor of a 3-4 defensive coordinator like Wade Phillips.
DeMeco was asked about switching defenses, and he basically said that while he understood that changes would be made, the bottom line in any D is simple: you have to cover. Whether it’s a 4-3, 3-4, 4-6, or 5-2, the defense has to hold down the fort deep down the field.
I’m not going to pretend like coming to a workout in late June marks the turning point in Kareem Jackson’s career. It is, however, a nice starting point in a must-win season.