According to ESPN’s Jason Wilde, former Green Bay Packers RB Brandon Jackson is back with the organization as a coaching intern. To a small but loyal group of Packer fans, this is great news. Jackson was a 2007 draft pick out of Nebraska, and while slightly undersized, he was good at basically everything a back can be good at.
Well, almost. Outside of 2008 he never had much success between the tackles, but in all honesty he didn’t really need to to provide value. It’s a shame he was phased out in 2010 for ineffectiveness (though it’s hard to complain about the team’s result, and James Starks played quite well in his own right), but Jackson’s skill-set was underrated at the time. If he played today it’s easy to see him as a New England Patriot in the Dion Lewis/James White role, and that particular skill-set is why I have some confidence in his ability to rise in the coaching ranks.
There are some things you can’t really teach a running back. Quick twitch reactions, instincts, and vision are all more about innate talent than anything you can learn, but even in his playing days, Jackson was a master of what could be learned. He remains the single best pass-blocking running back I have ever seen, a skill that is mostly about learning to diagnose a play, taking a proper angle on the proper person, and having the desire, attitude, and strength to engage. Jackson also caught almost every ball that was thrown his way (he had an 80% catch rate for his career) and excelled in deception plays and screens. A true all-purpose weapon out of the backfield, he’s the kind of player Aaron Rodgers has been missing until very recently.
Just because you can do doesn’t mean you can teach, but it’s a good sign for Jackson that he was coachable as a player. Much of being a good learner is understanding how you learn in the first place, and even if he’s simply serving as a mentor in blitz pickup, he’s making a huge difference.
The primary Packer back is now former receiver Ty Montgomery, with rookie Aaron Jones serving as his immediate backup in the pass-catching role. It’s worth noting that Jackson appears high on Jones’ list of comparables. If he can instill the nuances of the game in either player, it will go a long way towards keeping Aaron Rodgers upright and comfortable.
Welcome back Brandon.