Bucs WR DeSean Jackson - Photo by Cliff Welch/PR
The Buccaneers signed top free agent wide receiver DeSean Jackson on Thursday and he held his introductory press conference with the local media on Saturday morning. PewterReport.com takes you inside the Jackson press conference for all the highlights and offers up the insight into what his addition means to Tampa Bay.
JACKSON’S OPENING STATEMENT
“First off, I want to tell everybody thanks,” said Jackson, whose nickname is “Jackpot.” “I’m excited about the opportunity, new beginnings. It’s been a long process, long period but it’s been intriguing to myself to be able to finally hit the open market. Going back to the end of last season and not really knowing where I was going to be and where it was going to lead to, something about Tampa Bay that I always loved. Beautiful weather, I’m a California guy and I’ve been in Philadelphia for six years, been in Washington for three years. Coming from Cali, you guys could imagine that cold weather, catching the balls, hitting the ground hurt my body.
Bucs WR DeSean Jackson – Photo by Cliff Welch/PR
“To find out that I’m coming to Tampa Bay was a great honor for myself. I just want to first off, the Glazers, let them know how appreciative of the opportunity I am. Jason [Licht], Coach Dirk [Koetter]. It’s a great opportunity. I’m very excited to say that I’m a Tampa Bay Buccaneer. I’m ready to do whatever it is to help this team win. I think there’s a lot of upside, Jameis [Winston] and obviously Mike Evans one of the best receivers in the NFL that I look at. So much to go up from here. So, I just want to let them know I’m appreciative of the opportunity, I’m going to come in here and be ready to work. Hopefully we can bring another championship to this city.”
KOETTER’S REACTION TO JACKSON BECOMING A BUCCANEER
“I’m going to start with DeSean,” Koetter said. “I was on record as saying we needed a guy. The guy that I was describing is sitting right next to me right now. I didn’t know it at the time that he was going to be the guy, but I’m real happy that he is. His production over his nine years in the league is unparalleled – six 1,000-yard seasons, another [two] over 900. Everyone thinks of DeSean as just a deep threat, but that’s not the case at all. DeSean can run them all, can run every route, can play every position, he can be the return man.
“His run after the catch is something that’s big, his versatility, plays all the spots, runs all the routes. He’s explosive but he can do everything we ask him to. The experience that he’s going to bring to our team, we’re a young football team. We need veteran experienced guys. He’s seen it all, I mean, he’s seen every type of defense. I went back and watched it for about the fifth time this morning, I was watching him again. Got a great feel for zone coverage, this guy has got tremendous moves against man coverage. His body control, his hands, his competitive toughness [are] all things are going to help us get better.”
WHAT BROUGHT JACKSON TO THE BUCS?
The Bucs made it clear to Jackson’s representatives that he was their number one target in free agency and were prepared to reward him handsomely when it came to his three-year, $33.5-million contract. So what led Jackson to believe that Tampa Bay would be the right fit aside from the great weather?
“Before I signed here, I got a text from Andy Reid,” Jackson said regarding his former coach in Philadelphia. “He’s like, ‘If everything is right, I think you’re going to Tampa Bay.’ … From that text message, he said ‘[Koetter] is a great guy. You’re going to love his offense.’ I really haven’t gotten a chance to dissect it and look at it to that extent yet. I’m sure it’s going to be a lot of fun. He’s got a lot of tools to go at. He can press any button he wants at any given time. I’m sure we’ll have a lot of fun.”
Playing in a receiver-friendly offense like Koetter’s was one thing, but the chance to play with Evans and a franchise-caliber quarterback like Winston was a huge plus for Jackson, who has followed Winston’s career dating back to his freshman season when he won the Heisman and a national title at Florida State.
“I found out, for one, he’s a winner,” Jackson said. “You know, he won a national championship. That starts something huge. I mean, I can remember myself in college, trying to win a national championship. To get that accomplished, that’s a start. As far as him being a winner, you definitely have the intangibles in that. A hard worker, a determined, dedicated winner. That’s really all I can say about him. I don’t know him to the utmost [like] I will in the next couple of months, but as far as the history and what I’ve seen – it’s hard to really get to know someone, not being around them.
Bucs QB Jameis Winston- Photo by: Mark Lomoglio/PR
“You can watch from TV, you can look, ‘He might be this, he might be that,’ but to really get the opportunity that I’m going to get now, is going to be able to set the bar straight. As far as what I saw, I think he has everything that it takes to get to the Super Bowl and win a championship. As long as you have the intangibles, that’s what you look for. I can remember going through the process, talking to Adam Schefter and he was asking ‘What’s going to be the decision maker on my next decision. I said, ‘I want to play with a great quarterback.’ I definitely think he has the intangibles to be that.”
The Bucs were the only team to not record an offensive play of 50 yards or more last year and wanted another explosive playmaker like Jackson to create those big plays. Jackson has a 17.7-yard career average and led the league with a 17.9-yard average last season. Having a quarterback like Winston that can the ball downfield to Jackson excites the 30-year old receiver.
“His arm strength and his ability to have that cannon – he’s always scrambling, he’s always on the run and he’s always looking to make plays long,” Jackson said. “He’s looking down the field. You have a lot of guys in this league looking to run, but before he runs he looks to throw the ball. That’s something intriguing about him, and his willingness to distribute the ball to his wide receivers.”
KOETTER SEES THE GALLOWAY EFFECT IN JACKSON
Coming off a season in which he averaged 17.9 yards per catch, which led the NFL, Jackson was asked about how much gas he has left in the tank regarding his blazing speed at age 30.
“I’m 26 man, what are you talking about?” Jackson laughed. “I don’t feel 30 and I’m definitely not running like I’m 30. You can question it all you want, like I said the past couple years, still going out there and making electrifying plays. Being able to strike the score for my team, that’s all that really matters to me. I don’t really care. I mean the numbers are what they are. I’m 30. I’ll be 31 in December. I still feel like I can play this game at a high level for another four, five years.”
Tampa Bay fans can remember when wide receiver Joey Galloway came to Tampa Bay in a trade that sent Keyshawn Johnson to Dallas in 2004. Starting at age 34, Galloway produced three straight 1,000-yard seasons with the Bucs from 2005-07. Koetter seems some similarities between Jackson and Galloway.
“Joey Galloway is a really good comparison for Bucs fans,” Koetter said. “When I came into the league I was coaching down in Jacksonville and we would play [the Bucs] in the preseason and we also played [Tampa Bay] once in the regular season. Joey Galloway – I used to just be amazed at him for his age how he could still get behind a defense and do all of those things. That is a really good comparison.”
Jackson’s speed is not only going to be used on deep routes, as Koetter noted. In addition to getting behind the defense on go routes and post patterns, Jackson has the ability to catch intermediate passes and get yards after the catch, too.
“Most of your routes – your deep routes – are layered routes where you have somebody going deep, somebody intermediate and somebody in the checkdown zone,” Koeter said. “It gets to the point where if the defense doesn’t have to honor that guy going over the top then they sit down more on your lower level guys. We’re not always going to have DeSean doing that. DeSean can do everything. Mike can get behind a defense as well. This just gives us a lot more flexibility. There are a handful of receivers in the league that when you watch them, the defenses give those guys respect. DeSean is definitely in the upper echelon of those guys.”
HOW WILL JACKSON HELP TAMPA BAY’S GROUND GAME?
Jackson not only helps the receiving corps and the passing game with his 4.35 speed and ability to score from anywhere on the field, as I reported in Friday’s SR’s Fab 5 column, Jackson can also help Tampa Bay’s running game, which struggled with consistency and breaking off long runs last year.
Redskins WR Desean Jackson – Photo by: Getty Images
“It’s hard to come and stack the box when you have a speed guy out there on the perimeter that accounts for maybe getting a double team or getting an extra guy you have to account for,” Jackson said. “A lot of times in this league the safeties like to come down and show blitz or try to roll coverages and all that good stuff like that. In the past I’ve had some teams and some great running backs that I’ve played with that actually accomplished a lot by having two safeties back and trying to figure out if we’re going deep. So that gives the running backs a couple extra yards per run for them. That’s something I definitely look forward to because if you don’t have a good running game and a running back that can run through the holes and do those types of things you’re going to have defenders sitting back 40 yards deep like, ‘We’re not going to let them score.’ It’s a balance thing, and as long as you’ve got the balance of a run-pass, that’s what you’ve looked for.”
Koetter agreed with Jackson’s assessment.
“What some teams do is they will double both of them with a Cover 2 look, which when you’re running the ball should help your run game because you’re running against a seven-man box. That’s the simple math of it,” Koetter said. “That will be interesting to see how defenses look at that. We’ll still continue to move those guys around, but I think it will help everybody out. I think DeSean’s speed on the field helps everybody on the field get better because when you look at his tape, he’s hard to single cover. And Mike is hard to single cover, so that’s a good problem to have.”
JACKSON AND KOETTER GO WAY BACK
Koetter tried to recruit Jackson when he was the head coach at Arizona State, but Jackson preferred to play with running back Marshawn Lynch and quarterback Aaron Rodgers at Cal instead.
“He tricked me because he got me there, but left [for the draft],” Jackson said. “I always give Aaron a hard time about that.”
Koetter recalled playing against Jackson when Cal beat Arizona State and Jackson had an 80-yard punt return for a touchdown against the Sun Devils.
“First time I saw him up close was Arizona State versus Cal, and he was running an 80-yard punt return, blurring right by our bench as he went on to score a touchdown.”
Jackson recalled the play and noted how he’ll never do that to Koetter to again.
“It’s all good because now I’m on his team,” Jackson said. “Hopefully I can be running 80 yards, but this time I’m on his side.”
IS JACKSON A CANDIDATE TO BE THE BUCS’ RETURN SPECIALIST?
The Bucs had the league’s worst kick return average last year with 14.6 yards per return. Jackson, who has four punt return touchdowns on punts earlier in his career in Philadelphia, is open to returning kicks and punts in Tampa Bay, and Koetter said that he would pick and choose when to use Jackson in that role throughout the season, but it wouldn’t be an every game situation as a full-time return specialist role.
“Whatever this man (Coach Koetter) calls me to do, I’m going to do it,” Jackson said. “I have no problem with it. I love that electrifying part that I add to the football field, to the dynamics of this game. Now we’re in this era when you have the Tyreek Hills, you have all of these fast guys that are making these huge, big plays. That’s what the NFL needs. You’ve got the big guys doing it. You’ve got the small guys doing it. Whatever it is [Koetter] is going to ask me to do, I’m going to do it.”
Scott Reynolds is in his 23rd year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds enjoys giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
My wife and I had the good fortune of being able to sit in on the DeSean Jackson and Chris Baker introductory press conference. Also got a chance to say hello to Scott Reynolds. Thanks to the Buccaneers for the awesome experience.
It was great to meet you, scubog! Always a pleasure to put a face with a PR screen name! Thanks for taking the time to come over and introduce yourself.
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