This week at One Buc Place, the assistant coaches were made available for the first time this offseason. Each position coach was open to the media to talk about the guys they know best, and there were certainly some narratives that were fortified and also some new perspectives that were discovered.
We wouldn’t call it a new perspective for the coaching staff to expect free agent wide receiver DeSean Jackson to be a producing part of the Buccaneers’ offense this season. However, we didn’t expect to hear that opinion be voiced as sternly as it was by offensive coordinator, Todd Monken, either.
“How can we get DeSean Jackson up to playing at a really high level? Not that he’s still not capable of it, but how do we get him to play at why we paid him?’’ Monken said. “I’ve told him that, ‘we have paid you a lot of money to be a damn good player. This isn’t a contract where we’re paying you for what you’ve done for us…we’re not paying you like (Derek) Jeter [in his last three years]. We don’t have any old street cred that we’re paying you for. No. We need you to be a great player now. That’s why we gave you the money.”
Though Monken has only been with the Buccaneers since last season, you could tell there was a hint of disdain in his voice. Not that any of it was towards Jackson, let’s be clear about that. But, I’m sure Monken has been around some of the older coaches or front office members who have traded stories about athletes they’ve drafted or free agents they’ve signed who simply did not live up to the money spent – and if there’s anything people at the top can’t stand, it’s when money (and time) is wasted.
For the Buccaneers, there are unfortunately quite a few names that come to mind, not only with money spent, but also in resources to acquire – Darrelle Revis, Dashon Goldson, Michael Johnson, Anthony Collins just to name a few.
Monken’s tone and demeanor with such a message to the media fortified the idea that this isn’t that same old Buccaneers regime. This is an organization and coaching staff that does their research, spends the money and expects to get the most out of it in return.
“[Jackson] came here because of the money,” Monken said. “Don’t give me all that bull about you came here because of the weather and Jameis. No. You came here because we paid you the most. You need to play like that. And he gets that. He’s smart enough to understand that.”
When Monken talks about that production they want to see from Jackson, I’m sure he would tell you that such impact for the offense can come in a variety of ways – and should, that’s why they’re paying him as opposed to another receiver. But, tangible worth for all big offensive contracts can boil down to one word.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were one of the worst teams in the NFL last year when it came to dynamic plays, and more specifically, dynamic touchdowns, meaning plays of 30 yards or more in 2016. Since coming into the league in 2008, no receiver in the game has had the same kind of electrifying and consistent success on those long distance plays than Jackson has.
Jackson has recorded a touchdown of 60 or more yards in every single season of his career, and what Monken is saying is that 2017 better not be the first time he breaks that streak. Jackson’s career high in touchdowns for one season is nine, his last Pro Bowl year in 2013. Since then, after signing a big deal with Washington, he hasn’t come close to that production with just six, four and four touchdowns per year respectively.
When Jackson said in his introductory press conference that he doesn’t feel his age will slow him down at all, that’s exactly what the front office expected to hear and expects to see. They don’t just want a Jackson who can come in and make a splash plays “every now and then”. They want a splash plays every week; that’s the kind of money they gave him.
Jackson has never recorded double-digit receiving touchdowns in a single season. There’s plenty of fire power in this Buccaneers offense to give him that best chance, or at least close to it.
Monken, Jason Licht and Dirk Koetter don’t just want three good years out of Jackson. They’re banking on great years, and hopefully a carer year somewhere in there, too.
This team gave Jackson a good chunk of their treasure. Monken says he better live up to it.