Jackson Moving the Chains

One can express how fantastic Vincent Jackson’s first season as a Buccaneer has been in a variety of ways.  For instance, he leads the entire NFL in yards per catch at 20.4, a category no Tampa Bay player has ever paced the league in before.

Or this: Only two receivers in the entire NFC have more yards than Jackson’s 1,145 at this point – Detroit’s Calvin Johnson and Chicago’s Brandon Marshall.

Or this: There are only six players in the entire NFL with at least 1,000 receiving yards and at least eight touchdowns, and Jackson is one of them.

Or this: He’s on pace for 1,409 receiving yards, and with games left against the 16th and 30th-ranked pass defenses in the next three weeks, he could be putting Mark Carrier’s 23-year franchise record of 1,422 yards in jeopardy.

But here’s one that might not be so obviously but is clearly very important: Vincent Jackson moves the chains, and he does it as reliably as any player in the NFL.  Jackson has 56 receptions so far this season.  Amazingly, 50 of those have produced first downs.  When he catches the ball, the Bucs’ drive is moving on.

Jackson’s percentage of first downs per reception is the highest in the NFL, and he’s one of just eight players whose marks are over 80%.  Here are the top 10 in that category.

Player, Team Rec. FDs Pct.
1. V. Jackson, TB 56 50 89.3
2. L. Moore, NO 53 45 84.9
3. S. Chandler, BUF 37 31 83.8
4. M. Floyd, SD 54 45 83.3
5. B. Gibson, STL 40 33 82.5
6. R. Gronkowski, NE 53 43 81.1
7. R. White, ATL 77 62 80.5
8. M. Colston, NO 65 52 80.0
9t. J. Gordon, CLE 42 33 78.6
9t. T. Smith, BAL 43 33 76.7

If Jackson can maintain his first-down percentage, or something close, for three more games he will finish with the best chain-moving season in franchise history.  The highest mark any Buccaneer has had in a previous season was Horace Copeland’s 85.7% first-down rate in 1995.  No other Buc has ever finished over 80%, and the top mark in the last decade was Joey Galloway’s 75.8% in 2004.  Carrier, Lawrence Dawsey, Karl Wiliams, Bert Emanuel, Keyshawn Johnson, Antonio Bryant, Courtney Hawkins and Michael Clayton all had seasons at or above 70% in that category, but no Buc has ever threatened 90% before.

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