One of the key matchups in last week’s game was between Bengals cornerback William Jackson III and Dolphins wide receiver DeVante Parker.
Jackson is having an excellent season for the Bengals in the final year of his contract. Parker has been impressive with the Dolphins as well with 677 yards on 56 receptions this season.
Parker was targeted eight times when matched up against Jackson. Of those eight targets, Parker came up with only two catches for 17 yards, while Jackson was flagged for defensive pass interference twice.
Perhaps the most impressive number is zero. That’s how many yards Jackson gave up to Parker after the catch.
Let’s take a look at the Jackson/Parker matchup.
Jackson vs Parker pic.twitter.com/YGPcOSqtUB— Matt Minich (@CoachMinich) December 8, 2020
The first time Tua Tagovailoa targeted this matchup, came in the 1st quarter of the game.
This is a good releases by Parker. He sells it to the outside before breaking inside of Jackson. Jackson kept his hips square, so he was able to transition quickly. Parker had inside leverage and a couple of steps on him, but Jackson took both away. As he saw the ball released, he broke toward Parkers inside hip.
This was a great job of getting in position to make a play on the ball.
Parker for 8 pic.twitter.com/zOLRlTlyaM— Matt Minich (@CoachMinich) December 8, 2020
Both of Parker’s receptions against Jackson came in the 3rd quarter.
In this clip, Parker releases inside and hitches up at about nine yards. Jackson stays on top of him and gets to the inside, but Tagovailoa throws the ball outside, away from the coverage. Parker makes the catch and Jackson makes an immediate tackle for a gain of eight.
This was a good route and a good throw by the Dolphins. Jackson needed to get to inside leverage to be able to make a play on the ball if Tagovailoa threw it inside. This put him out of position to make a play on the outside throw. He was, however, able to make an immediate tackle and prevent Parker from gaining additional yards after the catch. Which is the best he could do in this situation.
Parker for 9 pic.twitter.com/ZzpXiwlhq4— Matt Minich (@CoachMinich) December 8, 2020
On the next drive, Parker lined up as the third receiver on the top of the screen, and Jackson matched up with him in press coverage.
Parker releases straight into him, initiating contact. Jackson is thrown off balance by this and it helps Parker get open on the out route. Jackson is right on his tail, but being off balance has created a window. Tagovailoa was pressured and as a result his placement was low and Parker has to go to the ground to make the catch.
This was another good route by Parker. Jackson was pressed and Parker, who is 20 pounds heavier, physically engaged with him. This threw off Jackson just enough to give Parker an opportunity. This is an example of why it is important to get pressure, particularly when you are playing man coverage.
With a more accurate throw, Parker may have had a chance to gain additional yards, but since he had to go to the ground to make the catch, it was easy for Jackson to prevent this.
Jackson / Parker GL 1 pic.twitter.com/s6dRdWRlOi— Matt Minich (@CoachMinich) December 8, 2020
As mentioned above, Parker has 20 pounds on Jackson. He also has three inches so it makes sense that the Dolphins would want to throw goal line fades at this matchup.
They did just that two of the three times he was targeted on the goal line. All three came in the second half.
In this first clip, Parker outside releases on the fade. Jackson is right there with him and is able to turn his body and get two hands up to attempt the interception. The ball is out of Jackson’s reach, but he prevents Parker from making the catch.
When a cornerback is on the goal line in man coverage on the single receiver side of a formation, he should be thinking two things: Fade or slant. Pre-snap reads can help him determine which he is getting.
In this still frame from a different angle of the previous play, you can see that Parker was lined up at the bottom of the numbers to the boundary. That is an ambiguous read. He could be running a slant or a fade.
In this still frame from the next clip, Parker lines up at the top of the numbers to the boundary. He has no room to run a slant. Yes, he could be doing something else. Maybe it’s a boot, and he is dragging across the formation, but when the cornerback sees this alignment his initial thought should be “fade.”
That is just what he gets. After being unable to convert the previous fade, Parker may have tightened his split to give himself more room to work on the outside.
Take a look.
Jackson / Parker GL 2 pic.twitter.com/dA4fMztN5A— Matt Minich (@CoachMinich) December 9, 2020
Jackson is right there with him as Parker runs the fade. This time Jackson is not able to turn, but as the ball arrives he plays it through Parker’s hands.
Jackson did a good job defending both goal line fades.
Jackson / Parker GL 3 pic.twitter.com/HvD7DQn6pG— Matt Minich (@CoachMinich) December 8, 2020
Here is another goal-line target. This time Jackson follows Parker into the slot.
Parker releases to the flat trying to get Jackson to jump the route, before coming back to the inside. He runs a good route and gives Jackson a little push as he comes back to the inside. Jackson doesn’t throw his hands in the air and complain about the clear push-off. He plants his foot in the ground and breaks underneath the route, making a play on the ball.
This was an awesome job by Jackson as he reacts perfectly to the inside move and deflects the pass.
DPI pic.twitter.com/baax5igcrp— Matt Minich (@CoachMinich) December 8, 2020
Now, we get to the penalties. Jackson was called for pass interference twice, within a couple of plays in the 1st quarter. As we saw from the previous clips, this was a pretty physical matchup throughout the game, but for whatever reason the officials only called penalties on these two plays.
This first one is legit. When Jackson puts his inside hand on Parker, it’s not a penalty, but when Jackson brings the other hand around, he squares up and leans on Parker. Jackson is clearly impeding his movement.
Yes, Parker pushes off, but Jackson was really all over him
Not DPI pic.twitter.com/HJw4mlR9iw— Matt Minich (@CoachMinich) December 8, 2020
The next one I don’t buy.
Parker stems his route to the inside and Jackson brings his hand. This is perfectly legal contact since he is within five yards and the ball is not in the air.
Both players stumble, but Jackson is able to regain his balance and comes up with the interception.
This is a bad call by the officials and it took the ball out of Cincinnati’s hands.
Parker is an excellent receiver and Jackson shut him down. The Bengals have had issues at cornerback this season, but Jackson has not been one of them. Re-signing him needs to be a top priority this offseason.