Houston Texans: Kareem Jackson

Observed and heard in the locker room after the Houston Texans' 23-17 win against the Buffalo Bills.
  • Texans owner Bob McNair couldn't believe his eyes when he saw J.J. Watt run back an interception 80 yards for a touchdown. "He's worth every cent, he's worth every cent," McNair said of the defensive end he awarded a $100 million contract to this offseason. "I hope he doesn't come in tomorrow and ask for a raise."
  • Hopkins
    The celebration from DeAndre Hopkins that incurred a 15-yard penalty involved his dropping to the ground with the ball, lying in a half circle and acting like a dead fish after catching a 35-yard touchdown pass. "It's highly known in soccer, so the soccer fans know what it was," Hopkins said. It's apparently illegal in the NFL. Hopkins didn't know that when he did it, and got an earful from coach Bill O'Brien during the game.
  • Cornerback Darryl Morris filled in as the Texans' third corner with A.J. Bouye out with a groin injury and made the game-sealing interception. As that final pass from Bills quarterback EJ Manuel fluttered through the air toward him, he had one thought: "Don't drop it."
  • Cornerback Kareem Jackson can be seen in the frame running behind Watt as he returned the interception 80 yards, making sure nobody got to him. "I was just trying to get in the way. The big fella has some wheels on him, so I figured if I got in the way, then he would take it to the house."

Turnovers going Texans' way again

September, 14, 2014
Sep 14
OAKLAND, Calif. -- No moments were more indicative of the renewed attitude of the Houston Texans' defense than what followed a deep pass from Oakland quarterback Derek Carr to receiver James Jones.

Jones initially picked up 26 yards with the catch, then safety Kendrick Lewis knocked the ball from his hands. Jones picked the ball back up off the ground and kept running, this time meeting cornerback Johnathan Joseph near the end zone. The ball was knocked out of Jones' grasp again. D.J. Swearinger picked it up that time and the Texans had the ball back at their own 3-yard line.

Joseph was initially defending Jones then got back up and chased him down to the goal line. Swearinger was ready to pounce on the opportunity.

"Everyone’s excited to play," inside linebacker Brian Cushing said. "Not giving up on plays. Even when they get a big play, we’re chasing after balls, getting it out."

Shortly after halftime, Swearinger returned the favor for Joseph, knocking the ball from tight end Mychal Rivera for Joseph to recover. Joseph returned that recovery 49 yards, hoping to get a score there, too.

Already this season, the Texans have forced six turnovers, more than half of what they had in all of the 2013 season. They notched two interceptions (by Kareem Jackson and Brooks Reed) and two forced fumbles to add to Week 1's two forced fumbles.

"Games in the NFL, they come down to third-down conversions, they come down to red-area percentage and then obviously, probably most importantly, they come down to turnovers," Texans coach Bill O'Brien said. "So if you're the team that doesn't turn it over and the other team does turn it over, then you've got a heck of a shot to win and our team is doing a pretty good job of that right now."

It's a dramatic difference from last season when turnovers were a massive issue for the Texans on both sides of the ball. Houston's minus-20 turnover margin in 2013 was the worst in the NFL. Their offensive struggles there were well documented, and happened in part due to the quarterback who was shipped to Oakland after the season. Their defensive turnover struggles meant only 11 forced turnovers in 16 games.

Their goal on Sunday against the Raiders was to give up no more than seven points. Swearinger lamented that they didn't, but the Raiders' extra touchdown was a meaningless garbage-time touchdown.

They met one goal, though, one that mattered even more.

"We can’t be the defense we want to be if we don’t force turnovers," Swearinger said. "So we have to."

Texans bracing for fast receivers

September, 5, 2014
Sep 5
Some numbers related to Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III, receiver Desean Jackson and the deep ball, explain why Jackson's addition might be a good one for the team.

In Griffin's rookie year, his total QBR on passes thrown 20 yards down field or longer was 99.9 out of 100. He completed 47.1 percent of those passes and threw a touchdown 20.6 percent of the time with no interceptions. He ranked in the top two in the league in each category.

Last season Griffin's total QBR dropped to 33.4 on deep balls. He completed 25.6 percent of those passes, threw touchdowns 9.3 percent of the time and threw interceptions 7 percent of the time.

They needed help and brought in a fast receiver especially proficient with deep balls. Jackson caught 19 touchdowns on such passes, had 57 total catches on 145 targets. His yards per catch on passes that went at least 20 yards down field was 42.2.

That can be dangerous for the Houston Texans, and they're on alert.

"Those guys have some big-play ability. I think that’s what they pride themselves on," cornerback Kareem Jackson said.

"Deep balls, you’ve got to stay on top of deep balls," safety D.J. Swearinger said.

Last season is last season (like Texans coach Bill O'Brien likes to remind us frequently), but the Texans were about middle of the road against passes that traveled at least 20 yards in the air. They allowed opposing quarterbacks a 90.7 QBR on such passes, which ranked 18th in the league. They also allowed a 45.5 percent third down conversion rate when opponents attempted deep balls, which isn't great.

"He's done a good job of running by a few people and making the big play when the ball is thrown, but that's our job as corners, to eliminate the big play," cornerback Elbert Mack said of Jackson. "It reverts back to executing your technique and trusting your fundamentals."

Texans Camp Report: Day 8

August, 2, 2014
Aug 2
HOUSTON -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Houston Texans' training camp.

  • On the field it was DeAndre Hopkins day at Texans' training camp this morning. Every time I looked up, Hopkins was making another leaping catch. One particularly impressive one came during a red-zone drill in which quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick found Hopkins in the end zone. Hopkins caught the ball with cornerback Brandon Harris draped on him, then held onto it as Harris tried to wrestle it out of Hopkins' gigantic hands as the two of them fell to the ground.
  • And by the way, that red-zone drill was great to watch. Actual hitting! In training camp! "That's how it's supposed to be every day," Kareem Jackson said. "We're supposed to be out here competing as a team. The more we can go full speed and live and compete against each other in game-type situations, it'll only make us better when game time comes."
  • The winner for most entertaining moment of practice goes to an interception by D.J. Swearinger (swag with three g's). He picked off Fitzpatrick during a drill where a line of offensive players stood just behind watching. Swearinger went forward full speed, moved aside the onlookers in his way and ran toward the end zone, high-stepping into it once he got there. By the time he got back to the drill, the offense was already well on its way to its next play.
  • The winner for biggest cheer of the day goes to a Shane Lechler punt that Jadeveon Clowney blocked.
  • Backup quarterback Case Keenum has had good moments during camp, but one thing that's obvious is his first instinct is still to run out of trouble. That's something the Texans' current staff and previous staff tried to fix in his game.
  • Sunday morning's practice will be open to the media but closed to the public. The Texans will start at 8:30 a.m. and wrap up around 11 a.m. They'll do their usual afternoon walk-through, too, and that will be closed to fans and media.

What went wrong? Cornerbacks

January, 22, 2014
Jan 22
We approach the end of the defensive half of our position-by-position series examining what went wrong with the Houston Texans.

This wasn't a team that lacked talent, but one that often became enveloped by an impending sense of doom when things went bad, especially late in the season.

Defensively, the Texans faced a strange dichotomy for a while. They weren't allowing many yards, but were allowing too many points. Part of it was the fact that their offense turned the ball over so regularly and they themselves couldn't create many turnovers.

Having already discussed safeties, running backs, inside linebackers, receivers, outside linebackers, tight ends, defensive linemen and offensive linemen, let's wrap up defense with cornerbacks today.

Key Players: Kareem Jackson, Johnathan Joseph, Brice McCain, Brandon Harris

What went wrong: Week after week Jackson committed costly penalties he didn't understand. Each time came the same lament of defensive backs leaguewide: How do they expect us to play defense with these rules? Jackson vowed not to change his style. He finished the season having committed seven penalties for a league-high 174 yards during the regular season. Six of those penalties came in the first half of the season, and they hurt the Texans, who weren't always in agreement with the calls. In the Texans' final eight games, Jackson only committed one penalty, albeit a 35-yarder.

Per Pro Football Focus's player ratings, Joseph was the Texans' highest-rated cornerback. He ranked 24th among corners who played in at least 50 percent of their team's defensive snaps and allowed the fifth-lowest completion percentage. The lowest-rated corner among all players with the same participation filter was Texans cornerback Brice McCain. McCain, the Texans' nickel corner who often looked lost, was also the lowest-rated when you expanded the filter to include all players who played in at least 25 percent of the team's snaps.

Reason for hope? The future of this position will be interesting to watch. Jackson will enter a contract year if the Texans don't opt to extend his deal this offseason. Joseph's cap number is astronomical in 2014: $11.25 million. That's huge, but the Texans need him so I'd be surprised if he were a cap casualty. They need to upgrade from McCain in the slot.

Kareem Jackson will play Sunday

November, 29, 2013
HOUSTON -- Houston Texans starting cornerback Kareem Jackson said he'll play on Sunday against the New England Patriots.

Jackson has missed two games after suffering a broken rib against the Arizona Cardinals. He practiced on some level all week.

In his absence, the Texans have started Brice McCain at corner and moved Brandon Harris to the inside. With Jackson back, McCain should move back inside with Jackson back outside opposite cornerback Johnathan Joseph.

Jackson is targeted much less than Joseph; quarterbacks have targeted him 35 times this season.

The Texans lead the NFL in pass defense, giving up 171.8 yards per game. They've allowed 18 passing touchdowns, tied for the 15th most in the NFL with the Patriots and Cleveland Browns.

Lechler hospitalized, says he'll play

November, 14, 2013
HOUSTON -- This is a big one for Shane Lechler, playing against the team with which he spent the first 13 years of his career.

Wednesday, Lechler told Texans coach Gary Kubiak he would be playing Sunday, despite being hospitalized with the flu.

"He will stay tonight and he’s expected to be released tomorrow," Kubiak said. "You may not see him here all week. He sent word to me today, ‘Hey, I’ll definitely be there to do my job.’ I think he’ll be OK."

What will he do if Lechler can't play?

"Go for it, I guess," Kubiak said, with a bit of a smirk. He then added that kicker Randy Bullock could punt.

Bigger concerns might have to do with inside linebacker Joe Mays and cornerback Kareem Jackson. Both players missed practice again, Jackson with a chest injury and Mays with a knee and oblique injury.

Losing Jackson would mean the Texans would start Brice McCain, who struggled in coverage last week. Without Mays, the Texans could start Jeff Tarpinian, who signed on Oct. 27.

Here we go again with the linebackers, right? Last season the Texans' inside linebacker position was devastated by injuries to Brian Cushing, Tim Dobbins and Darryl Sharpton forcing them to rely heavily on in-season signee Barrett Ruud.

RTC: Not much changes for the Texans

November, 11, 2013
Reading the coverage of the Houston Texans...

Many faces were new for the Texans on Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals, but the result was mostly the same, writes Karen Crouse of the New York Times. She draws comparisons between Wade Phillips' last head-coaching gig and his interim role.

Marc Vandermeer checks in with HoustonTexans.com to give his view on the Texans' latest loss. He says 2013 joins 2005 and 2010 as the three worst seasons the Texans franchise has endured: all seasons in which the Texans were supposed to be good but weren't. The difference between 2013 and the other two seasons, though, is that this season making the playoffs was just supposed to be a formality on the way to Super Bowl contention.

Randy Harvey of the Houston Chronicle thinks fans shouldn't be angry at the Texans, they should feel sorry for them. Injuries mounted during the Texans' loss to the Cardinals. Dale Robertson of the Chronicle writes that Kareem Jackson suffered an injury to his sternum and will have an MRI on Monday. Brian Smith of the Chronicle says the Texans' defense is at the core of the disappointment this season.

Not his game column, but Chris Baldwin of Houston Culture Map noted Texans quarterback Case Keenum's choice of introduction for "Sunday Night Football" last weekend. He said he was from the University of Houston and The Third Ward. Baldwin explains the significance.

Cancer has touched two Texans CBs

October, 15, 2013
Before players were introduced for Sunday's game, Houston Texans cornerback Kareem Jackson brought his mother out of the tunnel, gave her a hug and then turned back around into the tunnel to await his own introduction.

Jackson's mother, Rossalyn, is a two-time breast-cancer survivor. She wore a sash that said "Survivor" on it and stood in line with the Texans cheerleaders as players ran through onto the field during introductions. She became part of Houston's contribution to the league's Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Cancer has been a fixture in the lives of both of the Texans' starting cornerbacks. Not only did Jackson's mother survive cancer, his sister had leukemia. And Johnathan Joseph, who starts opposite Jackson, has felt cancer's impact in his own family. Joseph's father suffers from lung cancer and emphysema.

On Monday, the two players held a fundraising event through their foundations to benefit the American Lung Association and Sister's Network Inc., which describes itself as "a national African American breast cancer survivorship organization."

As part of the fundraiser they held a birthday party on a stage for a local girl named Kyssi Andrews, who turned five on Monday. She was bald and wore a tutu and an Arian Foster jersey. For about an hour after cutting her birthday cake, Joseph sat on the edge of the stage with his arm around the little girl.

It brought back memories for Jackson's mother.

Locker Room Buzz: Houston Texans

October, 13, 2013
HOUSTON -- Observed in the locker room after the Houston Texans' 38-13 loss to the St. Louis Rams:

More tests for Schaub: While reporters spoke to backup quarterback T.J. Yates about, among other things, his anger at hearing fans cheer the injury to quarterback Matt Schaub, Schaub walked out of the locker room barefoot and left to get more tests done on his leg. He did not return and was unavailable to reporters. Schaub appeared to roll his ankle late in the third quarter when he was sacked by Rams defensive end Chris Long. Coach Gary Kubiak said he had "a little bit of everything on that one leg."

Watt not admitting defeat: Defensive end J.J. Watt held court in the middle of the locker room and, after about five minutes of queries, was asked by one reporter if the playoffs and Super Bowl were still a possibility for the Texans. "I mean, we're not mathematically out of it, are we?" he said curtly. "I didn't think so."

Jackson confused by penalty: Cornerback Kareem Jackson remained confused after the game about a 40-yard pass-interference penalty called on him. He said he relied on his technique and did exactly what he was supposed to do.
HOUSTON -- Just like head coach Gary Kubiak, Houston Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips didn't think the unnecessary roughness penalty called on cornerback Kareem Jackson in overtime was a good penalty.

"In my opinion, it cost us the game," Phillips said.

As Jackson tackled Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin, he pushed him back several yards before finally taking him to the ground after he lifted off it. In Jackson's estimation, he was simply finishing the play. He figured, if he didn't keep going until Baldwin was on the ground, then the receiver could have gotten away from him.

In the official's estimation, Jackson unnecessarily picked up the receiver and slammed him to the ground after the play was dead.

Unnecessary roughness calls often result in fines for the player, but Jackson wasn't fined this week after being hit with a $42,000 fine two weeks ago. The NFL's fine schedule doesn't include a description of a fineable offense that matches what Jackson was called for.

Kubiak asked the league for clarification on the rule and why Jackson was penalized. He offered this interesting nugget yesterday about that process.

"As a coach nowadays, something they started new, we’ll get films like every Friday morning of big plays that happened in the NFL that were ruled one way or the other that are very controversial calls," Kubiak said. "The tape explains to us why they made this call or why they shouldn’t have made this call. Usually, there’s three or four that they say they don’t want this called and there’s three or four that say this is the way we’re going to call this play."

Locker Room Buzz: Houston Texans

September, 29, 2013
HOUSTON -- Observed in the locker room after the Houston Texans' 23-20 loss to the Seattle Seahawks.

Watt angry: J.J. Watt had bruises on his face, six stitches across the bridge of his nose, dried blood on his hands and pants and a fixed glare staring at nothing as he addressed reporters. Never one to dodge the media like a few Texans did, Watt wanted to get his interview out of the way before showering. "I can't freaking stand losing," Watt said, looking furious at a game that slipped away late. "... Nobody likes to lose, especially like this in your own building." After the questions stopped, Watt turned into his locker and threw something down with an emphatic thud.

Jackson confused: For the second straight home game, cornerback Kareem Jackson bemoaned a penalty called on him in overtime when the official called him for unnecessary roughness, picking a player up before taking him down. "Horrible, horrible, horrible," Jackson said. Jackson said he didn't know what the flag was for and his intention was to just stop the receiver.

Support for Schaub: Texans defensive end Antonio Smith, Jackson, running back Arian Foster and receiver Andre Johnson all expressed support for Matt Schaub, who has thrown interceptions returned for touchdowns in the past three games.

Andre Johnson feels like he'll play

September, 26, 2013
HOUSTON -- Houston Texans receiver Andre Johnson was limited in practice on Thursday, coach Gary Kubiak said, but he's feeling good about his chances.

"Right now, I feel like I'll play," Johnson said.

Johnson clarified that while he got kneed in the shin in Baltimore, he didn't have any bone damage. Rather, he suffered a deep bruise to the muscle around there. The injury occurred in the second quarter of the Texans' 30-9 loss. Johnson tried to return after halftime, but he was not effective enough to finish the game.

Limited participation is a step up from where Johnson was Wednesday, when he did not practice at all.

The Texans were also missing both starting cornerbacks in practice: Johnathan Joseph (foot) and Kareem Jackson (sick). Left tackle Duane Brown was limited and said after practice that he doesn't want to aggravate his turf-toe injury.
HOUSTON -- Houston Texans cornerback Kareem Jackson nearly slipped out of the locker room while reporters were occupied with defensive end J.J. Watt.

Once caught, Jackson gave his honest view on the $42,000 fine he's planning to appeal. The fine resulted from a hard hit on Titans receiver Kendall Wright.

"We’re supposed to be physical and try to knock the ball loose from the guy when they catch it in situations that you can," Jackson said. "So that’s what we get paid to do. Now you tell me you’re going to take my money for doing that? That’s my style of play. That’s how I play. I’m not trying to be a dirty player. That’s just how I play the game."

It's a frustrating exercise for Jackson, who still says he won't change how he plays. His fellow starting corner Johnathan Joseph supported that thought later to me. Joseph said he doesn't think the fines will change how defensive backs hit because they still have to play the game.

Some of Jackson's key quotes:
  • "That’s a huge number. That’s a huge number. It’s outrageous. I don’t know. Can’t do nothing but appeal it. It happened, so that’s all I can do. I’ll never understand a $42,000 fine for a hit. Never. Guy got up. He was okay. I’ll never understand that regardless of the situation or the hit. That’s how I feel about it."
  • Asked if it's hard to know what's legal now: "We don’t want to blow guys’ knees out and have them out for the rest of the season. If you go low on them you got guys saying it’s dirty plays and we’re trying to hurt people. I don’t understand. Blow a guy’s knee out or go high and he can get up and play the rest of the game, play the rest of the season. It’s hard, but we’re defensive players. We get paid to be physical out there. That’s our job."
  • Last week Jackson, who went to Alabama, said he might give a Crimson Tide T-shirt to coach Gary Kubiak, whose alma mater Texas A&M lost to Alabama this weekend. "I was but I gotta save my money now, man. $42,000 fine, so I’m going to save all the money I can. I can’t do any out of the ordinary things like buy everybody an Alabama T-shirt. I can’t do it. I gotta keep that money in my pocket."
  • "When I’m out there playing, I’m not thinking about no fine. I’m not. That’s my style of play. I pride myself on being physical. I want to let receivers know that I’m out there. I’m going to be out here on this corner. Every time you come out here, you’re going to feel it. That’s what I pride myself on. Games to come, this week, whatever. I’ll continue to be physical from here on out. Hopefully everybody will have their aim a little lower. But I’m going to continue to play how I play."

Upon Further Review: Texans Week 1

September, 10, 2013
A review of four hot issues from the Houston Texans' 31-28 win over the San Diego Chargers:

Mental toughness: Just how sure were the Texans that they were going to win last night's game?

Midway through the third quarter, safety Danieal Manning and inside linebacker Brian Cushing started chatting about another improbable comeback from years ago. That one was during Manning's rookie year in 2006, when he played for the Bears. You'll remember that as the game that led to then-Arizona Cardinals coach Dennis Green ranting that the Bears "are who we thought they were."

[+] EnlargeRandy Bullock
Robert Hanashiro/USA TODAY SportsHouston Texans kicker Randy Bullock and holder Shane Lechler celebrate Bullock's game-winning field goal as time ran out Monday night in San Diego.
Manning brought it up to Cushing as a reminder that these things happen. And because this game felt the same.

"Right in the middle of the third quarter, when it was about 28-14," Cushing said with a chuckle. "We just felt it. We felt that we could do it. Got it done."

With every player I spoke with after the game, I asked why this game was different than other times the Texans have faced big deficits. The answer most often was that this is a more mature team that has been through such adversity before. The Texans were accused of lacking mental toughness last season, and last night's game was a step toward proving that isn't true anymore.

While on the subject of accusations, the Texans turned another one on its head last night. I asked cornerback Johnathan Joseph if the Texans made a statement with the win: "Hopefully so, showing that we’re a resilient team, we can come back and play from behind."

Vintage Dre: Texans tight end Owen Daniels said he thinks Andre Johnson is actually getting better each year. Johnson had 146 yards on 12 catches, eight of which came in the second half as the Texans mounted their comeback. It wasn't easy on his body, but Johnson played like a kid again. He and quarterback Matt Schaub excelled when their team needed them the most.

About that first half: The start of the game was about as bad as it could have gone for the Texans, and they can't ignore that. Last night's win wasn't just a case of coming from behind, it was the biggest comeback in franchise history. That requires a big deficit first.

"If we're mature enough to hang in there and win tonight, we have to be mature enough to know we didn't play very good, too," Texans coach Gary Kubiak said.

Every phase of Houston's game struggled. The Texans' offensive and defensive lines got outplayed, they only made it to the red zone once, they allowed 100 percent red-zone efficiency on three trips, and their average drive started 11 yards shy of where the Chargers did. And, of course, the first three plays of the game were a bobbled kickoff return, a Schaub interception, and a 14-yard touchdown pass from Philip Rivers to Ryan Mathews. Rivers finished the half with a 122.6 passer rating.

Third-down efficiency was big: In the first half, the Chargers converted 63 percent of their third downs, often with big plays. In the first quarter, they converted a third-and-6 with a 17-yard pass to Eddie Royal, another third-and-6 with an 11-yard pass to Danny Woodhead and a third-and-7 with a 15-yard pass to Antonio Gates. In the second quarter, there was a 34-yard pass to Gates and a 10-yard touchdown pass -- both on third downs.

"Coming into halftime, that’s what we were saying, we’ve got to get off the field on third downs," cornerback Kareem Jackson said. "It definitely swung the game in our favor tremendously."

Indeed, in the second half, the Chargers converted only two.