Sunday Spotlight: Tanard Jackson

He started all 32 games in his first two seasons, but Buccaneers safety Tanard Jackson(notes) missed the first four games of the 2009 season due to a violation of the NFL's substance abuse policy. In his absence, the Bucs have put up a horrible pass defense under new defensive coordinator Jim Bates and his different schemes -- Tampa Bay goes into Week 5 ranked 31st against the pass in Defensive DVOA -- only the Lions are worse. The Bucs have thrown out the long-effective Tampa-2 system and are going with many more single-high safety looks, and they're getting burned for deep touchdown passes as a result.

Tampa Bay will desperately need Jackson to step up in his return, because they're facing the Eagles at the Linc, and Donovan McNabb(notes) is back. The Eagles have two downfield burners -- DeSean Jackson(notes) and Jeremy Maclin(notes) -- and an offense with some new Wildcat looks. So far, the trickeration has slowed the Philly offense more than it's helped, but the Bucs might be even worse against the run than against the pass. Jackson is more a coverage guy than a space-filler, but the Tampa Bay defense will take whatever they can get.

We'll be back to detail Jackson's performance, and how the Bucs defense survived against Philly's offensive attack, tonight.

(Note: About 30 seconds after I posted this, McNabb hit DeSean Jackson for a 51-yard bomb TD with his first pass of the day. Yeesh.)

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