Many people, including myself, thought that Brian Orakpo's injury was a curtain call for the Redskins season. Although we may have seen that a great pass rush is 40% of a good pass defense, I for one did not see the Rob Jackson freight train coming.
After all, Rob Jackson was a 7th round draft pick 4 years ago. He was drafted at a time when throwing darts at a list of names would likely yield better results than what the Redskins' staff were picking at the time. In addition, he has been relatively quiet as the Brian Orakpo backup, on the roster last year essentially for the first full year.
Compared to Orakpo, Jackson at draft time could bench 225 around once for every three times Orakpo could bench 225. Jackson's vertical jump is 11 inches under Orakpo's astonishing 39.5 inch vertical jump. His speed though was just slightly slower than Orakpo, not bad for a big defensive end on the eventual verge of conversion to an outside linebacker.
A review of Jackson's first start earlier this year posted on Hogs Haven has Jackson being superior to Orakpo in pass defense and stopping the run. On pass rushing he was far far inferior to Orakpo. Let's just say that Jackson has made a heck of a lot of progress on pass rushing.
What the numbers miss and first game performances often miss, is the sheer determination in a player's heart. Redskin fans see oodles of that every time Morris runs. It's like watching a mini-rumble; a bona fide tornado on the field.
Something has definitely changed on the Redskins defense during this win-streak, and I believe the biggest change is the pass rush improvement of Rob Jackson. Number 50 has been simply on fire with an incredible knack for turning in the key defensive momentum play of each game. As Lorenzo Alexander said after the Brown's "[Jackson] has been balling out of his mind. And he's only going to get better."
To be sure, a lot, but not all, of the players on the defense have moved it up a notch. Jackson has moved it up a few notches, and he is the guy that is on fire every play now like Alfred Morris.
Keep your eye out for No. 50 these next two games. Let's see if he can crank up his pass rush a bit more each game. And while you are at it, please make sure Mara (the Giant's owner) doesn't spike Jackson's Gatorade with Adderall while he is on the field.
Link: Rob Jackson's stats on Pro-Football-Reference.com.
Image: Rob Jackson found on Redskins.com here.
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