During the past free agency frenzy, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers sought to find their franchise quarterback a legitimate number one target, and did so when they inked Vincent Jackson to a five year deal. While signing his contract, he and his agent decided that the numbers should all be fives to mirror Josh Freeman‘s number.
Throughout training camp, you heard of Jackson’s work ethic, and what he was doing with the younger guys. You also heard about the chemistry that he was starting to build with Freeman. In the preseason though, we didn’t see it. Even when they tried to force feed Jackson the ball, that chemistry was fading.
Even through the first game, the Buccaneers struggled to get the passing game going, but against the New York Giants, you started to see not only what Jackson can do, but what he did for the entire offense. He drew the number one corner and still put up over 100 yards and a touchdown. That wasn’t the best thing he did though, as he opened things up for everyone, especially Mike Williams.
Williams has been the biggest beneficiary of Jackson’s arrival, and he’s the first to admit it. While he struggled last year when teams planned against him by using a safety over the top, they can’t do the same thing this year. With Jackson on the other side, defenses have been forced to leave Williams in single coverage, and he’s made them pay.
Williams is averaging over 20 yards per catch, and I have seen a steady boost in his play. When he’s in one-on-one battles, it’s almost unfair for the defender, as Williams plays the ball in the air better than anyone I’ve ever seen. The way he can contour his body, combined with his awareness of where he is on the field and the ability to get his feet down is phenomenal.
During this past week against the Kansas City Chiefs, they played a lot of bump coverage, testing Freeman and the receivers to beat them, and they succeeded. Freeman helped the Buccaneers average over nine yards a play for the first time in franchise history, and give a peek into what we can expect from this offense.
It was refreshing to see the offense attack, and make use of what each player does best. Freeman has never been able to let Jackson use his arm, but you saw what he could do this past week when given the opportunity. Jackson has always been a big play threat, and it’s just opened up the offense that much more. While some people will criticize, and say that Freeman got lucky with some of his throws, I believe that he was on the money.
If you have one-on-one coverage, I think with the group of receivers that the Buccaneers have, you should just throw it up and let them make plays. If Freeman can continue to build on his performance from last week, this offense could become something special. I believe we have only just begun to see the kind of production that Freeman, Jackson, and Williams are capable of from here on out.