The NFL is all about matchups. Certain players are moved all around different formations to exploit matchups on any given play. For example, Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Vincent Jackson now plays a lot of his snaps in the slot to draw the opposing team’s nickel cornerback in coverage. Expect to see Jackson in the slot a lot against the New England Patriots.
A huge reason as to why Bucs’ offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan should and probably will line Jackson up in the slot is because he would draw the coverage of Patriots cornerback Kyle Arrington. Arrington is the worst of the top-three cornerbacks on the Pats depth chart, and he is known for giving up big plays in the passing game. Although many Patriots’ fans will point to the season opener in which Arrington forced two fumbles against the Buffalo Bills, remember that Arrington also gave up the reception on those two plays. If he’s not forcing fumbles, then Arrington is very mediocre.
And Sunday could not mark a tougher test for the often-torched cornerback. Vincent Jackson is a stud. He goes 6-foot-5, 230 pounds and has been a monster producer ever since he signed with the Buccaneers last offseason. In 2012, Jackson set a career-high in receptions (72) and receiving yards (1,384) while scoring eight touchdowns. In two weeks of this season, Jackson has 12 receptions for 231 receiving yards (though he has yet to score a touchdown). This includes a seven-reception, 154-yard showing against the New York Jets.
Sullivan’s plans to play Jackson in the slot and exploit matchups has worked so far, so why stop now? Jackson can take full advantage of Arrington on the inside, so expect to see the explosive wide receiver post monster numbers, regardless of if the Bucs win the game.
Philip Alexander is a New England Patriots writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @steely0906, “like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.