***Update: I've changed my SN from Flowers24 to my actual name...don't think I'm some rogue fool on the site***
There are certain guys that will be key in the Kansas City Chiefs quest to take the next step in 2012. Some are obvious while others are more subtle. One such man who falls somewhere in between those two distinctions is Tyson Jackson, Kansas City's fourth-year defensive end out of LSU.Jackson has shown promise, but hasn't lived up to his draft slot of third overall back in 2009. However, the 26-year-old started to show that he can be a consistent force in 2011. On run defense, Jackson became one of the better defenders on the team in concert with Justin Houston on the left side. Teams couldn't do much against the tandem, forcing them to head in the other direction.
One problem that still remains is Jackson's inability to sack the quarterback. In 44 career games, Jackson has amassed exactly two sacks. While it's not his primary job to rush the passer, he needs to be better. Between Glenn Dorsey and Jackson, it's not been pretty against the pass.
Negative: Again, the complete and utter lack of a pass rush. Jackson has the tools physically, but he hasn't been able to turn them into sacks. Pundits can talk until they're blue in the face about potential, but that's just pie-in-the-sky until it turns into reality. So far in three years, it hasn't.
Few times in the past three years has a game been altered by Jackson. It's true he plays somewhat of a discrete position, but in his career he's never forced or recovered a fumble. By comparison, Dorsey has forced one (still bad) and recovered four.
Positive: Jackson stepped up last year and showed what he can do against the rushing game. In his rookie year, the ex-Tiger recorded just 38 tackles before posting just 31 (in 12 games) in 2010. Last season, Jackson made a big jump to making 55 stops including 37 of the solo variety.
Jackson is also starting to learn more techniques with his hands thanks to Master Kim, now a defensive assistant who helped Tamba Hali become great. At 6-foot-4 and 300 pounds, Jackson should be able to beat up on the man in front of him with an array of moves.
My Take: Jackson will continue to improve, but the sacks will still be slow-in-coming.
The big man on the end will improve in both run and pass defense, but until he takes the quarterback down with some regularity I can't buy it. For years, Chiefs fans have heard how he'll start to dominate and that's yet to happen. He's gotten better every year, but it's tough to say he'll make a huge leap forward against the pass.
One underrated component in his favor going into 2012 is finally having a nose tackle next to him. While Dontari Poe will undoubtedly take time to develop, at least there's a big body on his side who can help to push the pocket. Teams certainly weren't fearing Ron Edwards or Kelly Gregg the last few campaigns.
I expect Jackson to make somewhere around 62 tackles and have 2.5 sacks. If he can do that, it would show some increased pocket-pushing and also improvement against the run. Even more importantly, I would like to see some pressures from Jackson. At least that would force a quicker decision against an elite secondary.
With what basically amounts to a contract year coming up, Jackson needs to show up every down.
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