“I’ve never seen a player like this at the quarterback position,” McCourty told reporters Wednesday. “I think, obviously, his speed. The way he’s able to throw the ball down the field. You watch some games where he’s moving around the pocket, he’s close to running, and he sees a guy downfield, and it’s like he flicks his wrist and it’s 50 yards down the field easily. So, I think it’s his ability to throw the ball down the field. But also, they come out there in empty and if it’s not there, if he doesn’t like what he sees, he’s able to make three guys miss in the backfield. Now, it’s 45-50 yards later before anybody gets next to him. I think it’s a combination of everything.”
Jackson has most assuredly been a pleasant surprise in his sophomore NFL season through the air, having passed by doubters with 235.7 yards per game, a 94.1 passer rating and 11 touchdowns to just five interceptions in seven starts.
It’s most certainly his fleet feet that makes him so unpredictable and unlike any other quarterback to prepare for.
“We need all 11 guys to play a role and do their job,” McCourty said. “You can’t play him in the run game and be the deep guy. You just can’t this week. It won’t happen. Each guy is going to have their job to do on whatever defense we’re in, and each guy has to do it. If they don’t do it, it’ll be a big play.”
For most quarterbacks, 100 yards in a game is a foreign concept. For Jackson, though, it’s almost becoming expected. He’s surpassed 100 yards on the ground in each of his last two games and on three occasions so far this season.
A Patriots defense under Bill Belichick has never allowed a quarterback to eclipse 100 yards, however. Tim Tebow’s 93 yards back in 2011 is the top mark.
Of course, according to McCourty, they’ve never faced somebody like Jackson.
Then again, Jackson certainly has a tall order himself against the Patriots‘ stellar defense.
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No matter how it plays out, Jackson’s likely to make history with his legs as he needs just one yard rushing to hold the record unto himself for the most rushing yards by a quarterback through eight games. He and Michael Vick are tied at 576.
That’s not all the Pats have to be concerned with.
“If he was just a runner, then you would change your game plan and not worry about the pass. If he was just a passer, it wouldn’t be as big of a deal to try to make sure you keep him in the pocket. But, I think it’s his ability to do both things at such a high level that makes it tough, and then it’s the scheme that they run,” McCourty said. “Everything is not something that you see every week, so now you’re trying to prepare for something that you can’t replicate in practice. We don’t have anybody that can throw the ball and run the ball like he can, so it’s very tough to prepare for him.”
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