Buccaneers rookie offensive coordinator/wide receivers coach Todd Monken took the bold step of calling out veteran wide receiver Vincent Jackson last week, saying publicly that Jackson needed to play better after he caught just two of the seven passes thrown his way during the Bucs season-opening 31-24 win over the Falcons.
Well, Jackson didn’t seem to heed the call. He responded by catching just four of the nine passes he was thrown during the Bucs 40-7 loss to the Cardinals on Sunday, and for the second time in as many weeks he was the target of a Jameis Winston pass that wound up in the hands of a player wearing a different jersey.
Jackson also dropped a ball just in front of the end zone on Sunday and he appeared yet again to struggle in his attempt to gain separation from his defenders. It’s enough to make you wonder if Jackson, now 33, is still suffering from the two knee bruises that sidelined him last year or, even worse, suddenly hit the wall.
For his part, Bucs Head Coach Dirk Koetter believes the problem is indeed two-fold, but he doesn’t believe the problem has anything to do with either Jackson’s health or his age. Instead, he believes the problem is clearly a sudden lack of chemistry between Jackson and Winston.
“We’re having too many instances where Jameis and Vincent, the precision just isn’t there right now, the precision that we need,’’ Koetter said. “We’re talking about our two captains on offense and the precision between those two players just isn’t where it needs to be and that’s something that we’re going to need to get straightened out real soon.’’
The problem does seem to be specific to Jackson. After all, Winston has had no trouble connecting with slot receiver Adam Humphries (13 targets, nine catches), tight endCameron Brate (eight targets, six catches) or running back Charles Sims (eight targets, six catches).
And while he’s missed on several of the throws he made during Sunday’s loss to Mike Evans, Winston has also connected with Evans for a team-leading 11 receptions, including two for touchdowns.