In an interview with Mike Tirico of NBC’s Football Night in America, Jackson pushed back against the perception that he’s taking too many hits.
“I’m not,” Jackson said. “Gotta watch the game up close. I’m not really taking no hits. I got it figured out. . . . You can get hurt in practice on the dropback. Knock on wood. . . . So you can get hurt doing anything. It don’t matter if you’re running. You can be scratching [and] hurt yourself. I play ball to win. I don’t worry about getting injured.”
So, Tirico asked, when Jackson hears people question whether Jackson can last when running as much as he does, what does he say?
“I can’t say nothing,” Jackson said. “That’s your own opinion. I’m going to play ball. And I’m going to do what got me here to help me succeed [and] help my team keep winning. That’s all I can do. I can’t stop you guys from saying nothing.”
Jackson may not be running much on Sunday night against the Patriots, if New England coach Bill Belichick does what he usually does and takes away what the opponent’s offense does best. Jackson is looking forward to that, since it will give him the green light to throw.
“I’m going to do it,” Jackson said regarding the plan to air it out if the Patriots clamp down on the run. “Definitely. Like we [do] in the backyard, if I got to. Gonna play ball.”
Look for the Patriots to also try to be physical with Jackson when he does run. Not in the #Bountygate way, but in the “If you’re going to play like a running back, we’re going to hit you like a running back” sense. With all the protections afforded to quarterbacks, too many defensive players are wired to shy away from hitting quarterbacks, even when they shed all quarterback protections.
Belichick doesn’t coach his players to do that. Case in point: The hit that knocked out Bills quarterback Josh Allen in Week Four.
When many were calling for Patriots defensive back Jonathan Jones to be ejected, fined, and/or suspended, Belichick defended the play. Belichick, as further evidence of his mastery of every rule of the game, realizes that it’s open season on any quarterback who runs and doesn’t slide.
Discussing that topic post-Bountygate is a delicate proposition, to be sure. But football is still football, and the Xs and Os and statistics and analytics still yield, in many respects, to the sheer physicality that continues to have a place in the game, even if the window for using it has narrowed considerably.
For Jackson on Sunday night against the Patriots, it’s definitely something to keep in mind whenever he decides to run with the ball.