Player Profile: Vincent Jackson
“The 99 route, it’s a seam up the middle.” Jackson continued to describe the Chargers’ most successful routes. “We like to run [the 99] against teams who like to run a cover 2. The key is for the receiver to get as clean a release as possible and put the pressure on the safety. The tight end is going to get up the field pretty fast if the line backer’s not jamming him. [Now] that safety’s in a bind. He’s got two receivers coming at him full speed and most of the time they’re going to break inside. There’s usually a hole about 20-30 yards right before that safety’s able to make the break at the angle [to tackle me].” Last year, this is how Jackson was able to score a 55-yard TD catch against MIA, and a 51-yard TD catch at Kansas City.
In 2008 and 2009, Vincent Jackson became the first Charger to post consecutive 1,000-yard seasons since 1995. His back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons began during the run of the Miracle 8-8 2008 Chargers. In 2008, Jackson had 59 catches for 1,098 yards, with 18.6 ypc, and 7 TDs. He was also voted to the USA Today All-Joe Team.
During Week 6 in 2008, the Patriots came to town for Sunday Night Football. In what’s known as the infamous “Boo Bowl”, Jackson racked up an incredible 134 yards and a TD. It was the most receiving yards by a Chargers receiver since David Boston played the Bengals in 2003.
On another national stage, during Week 14 on Thursday Night Football against the Raiders, Jackson had a career-high 148-yard game which included an incredible 59-yard TD catch.
The following week at Kansas City, during one of the most thrilling come-from-behind Charger victories ever, VJ had 6 catches for 89 yards and one TD. With 1:13 left in the game, announcer Ian Eagle couldn’t believe his own eyes. With the Chargers trailing, he chuckled and said, “And the Chargers are still alive with 3 time outs. A victory and they stay alive in the AFC West race. A loss and Denver clinches.” Right out of the gate, on 1st & 10, Rivers threw a beautiful rainbow 42 yards down field to his clutch receiver, Jackson, who caught it in stride. 1st & 10 on the 20. Rivers, en fuego, throws a beautiful screen pass to his RB, who dropped the ball. “You’ve just got to make this catch,” said announcer Wilcots. Rivers didn’t have any time to waste. There was only 38 seconds left. He wanted his clutch performer, his go-to receiver. Rivers was looking for Jackson, and he found him on a 10-yard TD pass for the win. It was an incredible 22-21 victory and led the Chargers into the playoffs.
Jackson continued his amazing play the following Sunday, Week 16, at Tampa Bay. He had 111 yards on 7 catches. Late in the 2Q, his 25-yard catch put him over 1,000 yards for the first time in his career.
In 2009, VJ had a career high year with 68 catches for 1,167 yards. He averaged 17.2 ypc, and caught 9 TDs. He also received his first Pro Bowl invite. The Bolts had become an aerial assault team in 2009 and led the NFL in yards per catch (13.3) and completions of 20+ yards (67). VJ and Malcolm Floyd tied for second in the NFL with an astounding 17.2 ypc avg. VJ also became the only receiver in the NFL to average over 17.0 yards per catch each of the last two seasons (18.6 ypc in 2008).
In 2009, Jackson and Antonio Gates were the first Chargers receiving duo to top 1,000 yards since 1985. Their combined yards of 2,324 were the most by two Chargers since 1980.
In Week 7 at Kansas City, VJ earned the Game Ball for a Chargers franchise-record 142 yards in the first half, which included two spectacular 51-yard catches in the second quarter. Jackson became the first NFL player with two 50-yard catches in a quarter since 2006.
In Week 9 at the New York Football Giants, Jackson earned a Game Ball after two touchdowns in the 21-20 victory. He had 5 catches for 58 yards, and 2 TDs, including the game-winning touchdown with 28 seconds left in the game. Jim Nance was calling the game, “28 seconds. Rivers heaves it to the end zone to a wide open Jackson!” Jackson was in the end zone waiting for the ball. He backpedaled three steps, and caught the ball beautifully. “Touch down, San Diego!” cried Nance. The TV cameras caught the Charger sidelines, including Norv, Charlie Whitehurst, and the defense cheering in exhilaration. Jackson blew a kiss to the TV camera in the end zone. Phil Simms praised Jackson, “How about Vincent Jackson? Got some space, takes up the field, nice move, the ball’s in the air and there’s nothing Corey Webster can do.” “His second touchdown catch of the game,” said Nance, “They go 80 yards in 1:46 minutes, and never even use their time out.”
Jackson earned another Game Ball in Week 14 at Dallas following the Chargers 20-17 victory for his outstanding performance which included a 33-yard catch on 3rd-and-8 and 39-yard catch on 3rd-and-12 during key scoring drives. Going into that game, Philip Rivers told his head coach that “this was Vincent’s kind of game.” Norv passed that information along to VJ to let him know his quarterback’s mindset. That knowledge put VJ in sync with his quarterback and he racked up 7 catches for 120 yards. “Vincent’s a pro,” Norv said of VJ after the victory. “Philip was right. It was Vincent’s kind of game.”
Jackson earned yet another Game Ball the following week for his performance against the Bengals. Jackson had 108 yards and two TDs in the 27-24 Chargers win.Vincent Jackson has always been an adaptable, hard-working individual. His parents both served in the Army, and his dad was a medic. As an Army brat, VJ lived all over the US and overseas. Before high school, his family settled in Colorado Springs. As a teenager, VJ cleaned hotel rooms at a local Super 8, and also sold vacuums door to door. His GPA was 4.1, he was involved in student government, and he was offered an academic scholarship at Columbia University. But Jackson wanted to attend a bigger athletic school, and enrolled at Northern Colorado, where he excelled in basketball AND football – just like his teammates Antonio Gates and Malcolm Floyd. As the 61st overall pick in the 2005 draft (2nd round), he became Northern Colorado’s highest NFL draft pick in its history.
All fans of the NFL have been waiting to see Rivers to Jackson back in action all year, and none more than Charger fans. Vincent Jackson comes riding into town just when his posse needs him the most. As the Bolts get ready to face the Horseshoe Gang in Indy, they’ve got an ace in the hole, the best wide receiver San Diego’s seen in years: Vincent Jackson. He’s back, Charger Fans. And with no time to lose.