The Houston Texans needed help in the secondary. Jimmie Ward was sent to the injured reserved on Dec. 26, and will likely miss the rest of the season due to a quadriceps injury. The Texans' defense, while improved in recent weeks, hasn't exactly been excellent all season long. With their biggest issue is their pass defense. Ward, surprisingly, was a big reason for that.
Despite being a good, if not very good (dare we say at times, even great?) safety in the NFL, he's a shell of what he used to be when he was in San Francisco. So it's not surprising that with Ward out, the Texans turned to former franchise player Kareem Jackson. A former first-round pick by Houston in 2010, Jackson spent nine seasons in Houston, from 2010 to 2018.
It was in 2018 that he shifted his alignment and joined up with the Denver Broncos. Never a Pro Bowler or All-Pro talent, Jackson did at times rate among the best safeties in the league every so often. Too inconsistent to be a top talent, Jackson has largely chiseled out a solid run as a pro that stretches 13+ seasons. Now at 35, he may be done in the NFL after this season, but he'll get one more shot to prove his worth, coming back to the Texans.
This seems like, on paper, a really good get for the Texans. After all, they claimed Derek Barnett off of waivers, and now they're claiming Jackson off of them as well. It seems like a pretty solid situation for the Texans to be in. Yet, Jackson isn't Barnett. Barnett struggled in a system that didn't optimize him correctly; an issue the Texans don't seem to have.
Jackson was not only playing poorly, but he was costing the Broncos beyond that. He was so wild and uncontrolled on the field this season, he got himself suspended twice. He ended up missing six total games due to targeting issues. Now if that's what he's become, he'll likely just continue to be a problem for the Texans as he was with the Broncos.
Texans head coach DeMeco Ryans may have been the one pushing for Jackson to return, as the two played together during their shared tenure with Houston, but it's hard to see other than depth what Jackson provides the Texans right now. He's not overly good at covering anymore and his tackling has proven to be a bit iffy. He's one targeting call away from not only getting suspended again but costing the Texans a major play, if not a game.
The Texans are taking an unnecessary risk for someone with limited upside. And it's worth asking if Ryans is the one behind this decision and if he is, if he should be.