September 22nd, 2018

DJax and a soft cushion.

For some odd reason, defenses are giving DeSean Jackson incredibly soft cushions on routes he runs. And he is badly burning defenses as a result.
Yesterday, Bucs offensive coordinator Todd Monken raved about Bucs wide receivers’ ability to win their one-on-one matchups and get open during this unprecedented offensive explosion for the franchise. Well, here’s proof.

Seth Walder of BSPN accessed the NFL’s Next Gen stats, where the NFL mines data mined from sensors on NFL balls and players’ shoulder pads. The two best receivers this season through two games are DeSean Jackson and Mike Thomas.

Per the Next Gen data, Jackson has all sorts of open space from defenders and Thomas is catching short passes in traffic, which often means little separation. The graphics below tell the story of their completions.

DeSean Jackson and Michael Thomas entered Week 3 as the league’s receiving leaders, but got there via very different paths, as you can see in their target plots. Defenses gave Jackson an average of 8.0 yards of cushion, the fourth-most in the league entering the week, per NFL Next Gen Stats. Thomas received 4.9 yards of cushion (83rd-most) and has caught 11 passes on plays in which he received press coverage (3 yards of cushion or less), five more than Antonio Brown and DeAndre Hopkins, who rank second in the category with six such receptions each. In other words, teams are defending Jackson and Thomas differently to try and take away their respective strengths, and yet both are succeeding anyway.

Hey, if a receiver like Jackson can get this kind of separation, it’s scary to think what a speedster like Jackson can do with the ball.

Then again, we’ve been witnessing it the past two weeks.

8 Responses to “Cushion”

  1. Dave5928 Says:

    That Snuggle artwork was genius, Joe. Made me laugh out loud.

  2. louis Says:

    seems like Monken realizes that soft cushions helps create more separation to work with for Jackson, and take advantage of it.. why is Smith blind to the fact that giving uncontested space only gives teams something to take advantage of, and allows teams to take advantage of the given space. The only way to slow down someone is to jump them at the line and make them force their way forward. it takes time to get past a “defender” and this time stops the free gift yards, and like magic creates sacks for the d line….

  3. JimBuc2 Says:

    I like the graph depiction from NextGen. The data is really easy to interpret. From this data set, at least for DJAX and Thomas I get what the Joes are saying. I think this kinda negates the press/off debate somewhat and by extension validates Mike Smith defensive schema, much as I hate to type that. What I gather is this: it is the receiver/qb being on the same page that defines successful completions. Kudos to GM Licht for assembling a very strong receiving corps and signing a veteran QB with the smarts to spot the open receiver. Monday night I think we will see the Iron Curtain get lit up. Bucs 34, Steelers 21.

  4. BucEmUp Says:

    I’ve been one of Mike Smith’s biggest critics since the day he was hired. I was very happy to see early in the first two games they have played tighter coveregae. More game two vs philly where I even noticed some pressing.

    Funny thing us when the lead and still had the lead late in the third through the fourth quarters I noticed more soft cushion and the teams got generated scoring drives off of them.

    Philly didn’t have any scary on offense and.we just got flat out embarrassed on defense giving up 40 points in new Orleans. How much you wanna bet that Antonio Brown is gift wrapped and nice big box of Cushion from Mike Smith on Monday night and goes for over 200 yards. When Smith is scared he backs off for the entire game. He will also have Brent Grimes playing further away from Antonio Brown than any other players on our defense

    Smitty defense gives up the booty and the Bucs miss a 42 yard field goal in the final seconds.

  5. PSLBob Says:

    I agree press coverage has its advantages, but you better have speed on defense, because if the receiver gets past the CB, Katie bar the door.

  6. miken Says:

    can’t cover everyboday

  7. Joe Says:

    That Snuggle artwork was genius


  8. TampaTown Says:

    Plus D-Jax can use the Jumbotron like a backup camera. Do wonder heโ€™s always open.