Jackson poses challenge to Patriots 'D'

Jackson poses challenge to Patriots 'D'
September 17, 2013, 3:15 pm
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Vincent Jackson is the most talented receiver the Patriots will see through three weeks.

(USA Today Sports Images)

The Patriots have not yet faced one of the league's top 25 receivers this season, but that changes Sunday when Tampa Bay cruises into town. Vincent Jackson has caught 12 of 24 passes thrown his way for 231 yards -- fifth most yards in the NFL.

New England's defensive coordinator, Matt Patricia, shared his evaluation of Jackson Tuesday afternoon.  

"He has a tremendous combination of size, speed, ability," Patricia said. "He does a good job of breaking tackles, whether it’s a stiff arm or just being able to run through arm tackles.

"He does a good job of getting off the ball versus press coverage, and then just does a great job in his routes understanding the coverage that is being played against him, finding the open zone if it’s zone, working away from leverage if it’s man, being able to take the top off the defense in the vertical pass game."

Not only is Jackson a vertical threat, with six plus-20 yard receptions in his career, he also gouges defenses with yards after the catch on intermediate routes. Denver's Demaryius Thomas is the only listed receiver with more YAC than Jackson's 98 this season.

New England's passing defense has looked stout so far, surrendering only a combined 339 yards through the air to Buffalo and the Jets. The Buccaneers may not present an overwhelming offense (they're ranked No. 31 in passing yardage), but Jackson is not to be overlooked. It will be interesting to see how the Patriots handle a top talent.

"Certainly, he has a phenomenal skill set for his position, and it’s his intangibles that make him really an outstanding player," Patricia concluded.