Now that we’re in full offseason mode, we’re going to review every single Detroit Lions player that finished the 2016 season under contract. We’ll look at their expectations coming into the season, whether they met those expectations and what to expect of them going forward. We will begin with the upcoming free agents, as they are the most intriguing and time sensitive.
Expectations before 2016
Asa Jackson was nowhere to be found on the team’s roster prior to the start 2016 season, and that’s a bit problematic considering how big of a role he would be thrust into at such a critical part of the season.
Detroit signed Jackson off of Baltimore’s practice squad after Quandre Diggs tore his pectoral muscle in Week 13’s matchup with New Orleans. The Lions seemed willing to try anything and everything they could to find a replacement at nickel corner. Up to that point, Diggs had 44 tackles, one pass defended and was participating in nearly 50 percent of snaps per week. Needless to say, replacing Diggs would be a sizable task...
Actual role in 2016
2016 stats: 4 games (2 starts) | 5 tackles, 2 assists
And Jackson just wasn’t up to the calling.
It’s an awful lot to ask of a player to come in from another organization and play as much as he needed to play, but Jackson’s struggles in coverage were apparent from the jump. When Darius Slay exited the game in Week 15 against the Giants, Jackson logged 48 snaps, the second most snaps on the team. He would go on to be exposed by Sterling Shepard—as seen above—and then this play from Odell Beckham Jr.—seen here:
Odell Beckham spectacular catch to put my Seahawks back into the #2 seed. Lol Ayeeee! #DETvsNYG pic.twitter.com/cdSwhitfSn— (@3lone) December 18, 2016
This play was more a result of a non-call of pass interference on Shepard, but the optics of seeing Jackson across from Beckham and then scoring this touchdown wasn't a good look, even though the audible seemed to call for a change to zone coverage. The team would go on to use Jackson sparingly after Week 15, mixing in different players like Johnson Bademosi and Don Carey to play in nickel packages. He was placed on injured reserve with an ankle injury before the Lions’ playoff game.
Outlook for 2017
Contract status: Unrestricted free agent
It certainly seems as those Jackson was purely a rental when the Lions found themselves in a tough spot. The snap counts down the stretch show the Lions were more concerned with trying anything with the hopes it would work, and it was likely Jackson’s history with Teryl Austin that seemed to make him a favorable candidate when he joined the team.
With Diggs rehabbing, some intriguing free agent options and this 2017 NFL Draft class loaded with talent at cornerback, it seems unlikely that Jackson will return to Detroit for the 2017 season.
Previously profiled Lions: Riley Reiff, Anquan Boldin, Dan Orlovsky, Devin Taylor, Rafael Bush, Don Muhlbach, Larry Warford, Andre Roberts, TJ Jones, Kerry Hyder, Jon Bostic, Marvin Jones, Alex Carter, Tim Wright, Armonty Bryant, Clay Harbor, Crezdon Butler, Matthew Mulligan