Bucs Jackson would sacrifice stats for more wins
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) Vincent Jackson thinks the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be better on offense this season, even if he catches fewer passes and gets into the end zone less often.
That how much the three-time Pro Bowl receiver believes in quarterback Josh McCown and some of the other changes the team has made after ranking 30th in scoring and last in passing and total yardage in 2013.
Jackson has had two stellar seasons since signing a five-year, $55.55 contract in free agency, but says he would gladly sacrifice gaudy statistics for more wins.
The Bucs haven't made the playoffs since 2007, however Jackson is confident that trend will not continue under new coach Lovie Smith.
''I start every season the same way. It's got to be about wins. Team first. Every time I come out here, I need to be part of this offense, contribute to this offense,'' the 10th-year pro said.
''That just means doing my job. It doesn't mean going out there and catching a certain amount of balls or scoring a certain amount of touchdowns,'' Jackson added. ''Sometimes I can create openings for other guys, and the run game can get it there and mix it up. To me, that's winning football. That's what Lovie's about. That's what I've always been about.''
Jackson, 31, posted personal bests with 72 catches for 1,384 yards while averaging a NFL-leading 19.2 yards per reception and scoring eight touchdowns in 2012.
He followed up with a career-high 78 receptions for 1,224 yards and seven TDs a year ago, when Tampa Bay began the season with eight consecutive losses and finished 4-12.
When Smith replaced former coach Greg Schiano in January one of his first orders of business was hiring Jack Tedford as his offensive coordinator. The former Cal coach installed an up tempo style of offense that Jackson says will provide plenty opportunities for him, running back Doug Martin and others to contribute.
''I'm excited. ... Training camp is obviously a time for us to clean up, sharpen everything we've worked on this offseason,'' said Jackson, who spent the first seven years of his career with the San Diego Chargers.
''Now it's time to really crank it up, start defining different positions, getting guys in locations where we have (matchup) advantages and getting in a good rhythm,'' he added. ''I'm excited where we're at right now. I think we're ahead of the curve for being a new offense with a lot of new guys together.''
Besides signing McCown, a career backup coming off his best year, the Bucs used their entire draft on offensive reinforcements, beginning with the top three picks - receiver Mike Evans, tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins and running back Charles Sims.
McCown threw for 13 TDs and just one interception while filling in for an injured Jay Cutler in Chicago last year.
''Josh is a big, strong physical guy. He can make every throw,'' said Jackson, whose big contract was done in all fives in honor of former Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman.
Freeman lost Tampa Bay's starting job and subsequently was released early last year. Jackson's production didn't suffer much with Mike Glennon running the offense the final 13 games, and it hasn't taken the five-time 1,000-yard receiver long to build a nice rapport with McCown.
''I think a lot of it just has to do with his savviness on the field. He's a very smart guy. He understands space and location and separation on routes and the way the dimensions of a defense work,'' Jackson said.
''We spend a lot of time off the field away from this facility, going to high schools and just spending time talking through some things, running some basic routes and getting a feel for each other,'' he added. ''I think that relationship is only going to continue to grow.''
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