When the Indianapolis Colts signed 9-year veteran, ILB D’Qwell Jackson, to a four-year, $22M dollar contract in March of this past offseason, they expected to get a team leader who’d consistently produce on a week-to-week basis.
Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. The Colts defeated the Texans 33-28. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
What they saw in the first two weeks against the Denver Broncos and Philadelphia Eagles respectively was a bit disappointing. Not from a leadership standpoint, but as far as Jackson’s on-the-field production. In the Colts’ first two games, Jackson combined for 12 tackles and not much else.
In Week 1, QB Peyton Manning targeted Jackson in coverage and was 4 for 4 for 69 receiving yards, 1 touchdown, and a Quarterback Rating of 158.3 (ProFootballFocus [PFF]). In Week 2, the Eagles’ Darren Sproles lit the entire Colts’ defense up for 152 receiving yards on 7 receptions.
However, since that time, Jackson has led the Colts in tackles during each of their past 4 games, all of which have been wins. He has 34 tackles during that span, giving him an impressive 8.5 average tackles per game. Currently, he’s tied for 10th in the NFL in total tackles with 45 on the season. Yet, that should come as a surprise to no one, as he was always a “tackling machine” during his previous 8 seasons with the Cleveland Browns, frequently leading the team in tackles.
“Jackson has led the Colts in tackles during each of their past 4 games, all of which have been wins. He has 34 tackles during that span, giving him an impressive 8.5 average tackles per game.”
Still, Jackson is beginning to jibe with the Colts’ defense, and it’s starting to show in his production. While the advanced statistics provided by ProFootballFocus (subscription) haven’t been too kind to Jackson, he’s currently rated as the 59th best ILB overall in the NFL (-10.2) on the year. It’s worth noting that he had his best PFF graded game of the season on Thursday night against Houston Texans, registering a +0.8 rating and playing in all 54 of the defense’s snaps.
After suffering though inconsistent play from their ILB’s in 2013, namely the spot adjacent to Jerrell Freeman, the Colts desperately needed a solidifying presence in the center of their defense for 2014. The previous tandem of Pat Angerer (9 starts) and Kelvin Sheppard (7 starts) were far too inconsistent, and the Colts never knew what they were going to get each game from either player.
While Jackson may not be quite the player he was, say 3 or 4 years ago, he’s still been consistently consistent through the majority of the Colts’ first 6 games, and there’s something to be said for that in its own right.
Aug 16, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts linebacker D’Qwell Jackson(52) reacts to a first half sack of New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (not pictured) during their pre season game at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports