Is it even possible for the second ranked passing defense in the NFL to improve over the course of one offseason without any free agent acquisitions?
Yes, yes it is.
Everyone knows that Johnathan Joseph and Danieal Manning will continue to produce and be playmakers for the Texans defense. It is also nearly a certainty Glover Quin Jr. will have another solid season in the secondary.
The real wild card, though, is Kareem Jackson. For the past two seasons, Jackson has received nothing but criticism from fans and media alike, and for good reason.
The highly-touted Alabama recruit never seemed to play to his potential, and he struggled with everything to staying somewhat close to his assignment to not being able to locate the ball after it was thrown.
Jackson, however, seems like he has finally turned the corner in his short NFL career. A full offseason spent learning from the praised cornerbacks coach, Vance Joseph, has certainly benefitted Jackson, as well as getting to work with his fellow cornerback, Pro Bowler Johnathan Joseph.
Vance Joseph and Johnathan Joseph have both noticed a tremendous improvement in Jackson's play this offseason, and decided to share those sentiments with Houstontexans.com
“He’s improved so much from the spring to the fall,” Vance Joseph said. “His technique is really, really good. His confidence is at an all-time high. He’s making plays on the ball."
"The first time we had a chance to come out here in OTAs back in the spring, his first period, he went out there, stayed square in his backpedal," Johnathan Joseph said. "Things they were preaching to him all year long, and he came right out there the first day and just did it the correct way. Everybody in the meeting room, when we saw it, we kind of gave him a round of applause, because that shows your progression or shows you’re maturing on and off the field to take things that were taught to you last year and bring it right back in the spring from the time-off period that we had."
If Jackson truly has greatly improved, then that is a scary prospect for opposing offenses. Jackson was the loophole in the Texans defense last season, and at times, he was the only escape route for opposing quarterbacks.
With the Texans pass-rushers continuously getting after the opposing quarterback, sometimes the only and best option for the quarterback was to quickly find and deliver the ball to Jackson's assignment.
Now, if Jackson can manage to stay with his man much more consistently, then opposing quarterbacks will sometimes have no answer, no escape route when Texans defenders are rushing straight toward him.
The improvement of Jackson gives the Texans a chance to have by far one of the most dominant defenses in the league this season.