TAMPA – There was a time not long ago when you could ask yourself who on the Buccaneers actually scares you and you’d be hard pressed to come up with an answer.
That is certainly not the case anymore.
With quarterback Jameis Winston and wide receiver Mike Evans already in place, the signing of veteran receiver DeSean Jackson gives the Bucs one of the scariest playmaking trios in the league.
The Bucs now have one of the game’s best young quarterbacks, one of its best young wide receivers and a veteran wide receiver who is showing no signs of slowing down.
Don’t believe it? Let’s go to the tape. Or better yet, let’s go to the evaluation of Jackson’s tape that NFL.com did for one of its Next Gen Stats reports.
Next Gen Stats has attempted each year for a few years now to find the game’s fastest ball carrier, which it does by determining a player’s speed in miles per hour when he’s carrying the ball.
Next Gen Stats does this each week for all runners, pass catchers and return men, and Jackson, at the age of 30, ranked second overall among wide receivers last year and third overall in the league.
“DeSean is exactly the type of dynamic playmaker we have been targeting for our offense,” Bucs coach Dirk Koetter said. “Desean brings a veteran presence and a big-play mentality that fits in perfectly with our offensive philosophy.
“He is a tough-minded competitor who has the game-breaking speed and pass-catching ability that stretches the defense and creates matchup problems.’’
Jackson’s top speed last year came on what proved to be a 59-yard reception from Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins in a Week 13 game in which he reached 22.60 mph before going down.
Only the Chiefs Tyreek Hill (23.24 in a Week 2 game and 22.77 in a Week 12 game) ran faster last year, when Jackson turned in one of the 10 fastest plays in a week on five different occasions.
Now that speed is part of the weaponry that Winston has to work with and you have to think that one of the great beneficiaries of this signing is going to be Evans.
Evans is pretty fast himself but he’s not as fast as Jackson. In fact, he didn’t rank among the 20 fastest players in any week of the season last year, but he still caught 96 passes for 1,321 yards and 12 touchdowns.
That was by far the best year of his career and he produced those numbers without much help around him and certainly without a deep threat to keep safeties from double covering him.
So just imagine what Evans might be able to do now that he has Jackson to take some of the attention off him. You know the Bucs have and you know what else, it’s actually kind of scary.
“It is rare to find a player in free agency with the combination of speed and natural playmaking ability of a DeSean Jackson,” said General Manager Jason Licht.
“DeSean is a smart, gifted athlete and he brings the type of veteran experience and deep threat receiving ability that will have an immediate impact on our offense.”