Jackson's Play Lends Real Optimism

The Chiefs not only got embarrassed last Sunday, but also missed out on a golden opportunity to all but wrap up the AFC West Crown. But in the midst of the disappointment, I look for a something positive to take from the demoralizing loss.

Looking at the game tape it's hard to find any bright spots, but a big ray of sunlight did pop out from behind the dark clouds that were cast over Chiefs Nation this week – and I emphasize big!

You can put away your milk cartons and cancel the Amber Alerts; Chiefs' defensive end Tyson Jackson has officially shown up on the stats charts. And it's about time, because the prospect of yet another early round defensive lineman falling to the wayside was just too much for this organizations fan base to bear.

Coincidentally, Jackson had his best game of the season against the team who he played his second best game of the season against as well. Jackson had six solo tackles on the day and we even witnessed a sparsely seen sack from the big man. In fact, it was Jackson's first sack of his NFL career.

Its late career milestones like this one that have many already righting the second year defensive lineman with the bust tag, but let's not give up on him just yet.

You have to start somewhere and this was a big game that Jackson desperately needed. Jackson suffered a serious MCL sprain early in the season and never recovered. Even after his return, Jackson's progress was hampered and he was even a healthy scratch from the lineup the previous two weeks.

Defensive End Tyson Jackson (left) had his best game as a Kansas City Chief on Sunday.
Getty Images

Criticism is fair, however, considering Jackson is not only the highest paid player on the Chiefs roster but also one of the highest paid players in the NFL (13th) this season, making just over $18 million. And although it would be easy to rip this guy, the position has a track record of needing time to develop.

All you need to do is look at the strides Glenn Dorsey has made in the last year and a half.

In 2008, Dorsey started his NFL career with a disappointing 44 tackles. In his second season, Dorsey went through a position change but continued to make improvements as the season went on. In 2010, however, it's hard to deny that Dorsey has become one of the Chiefs most reliable defensive ends. In fact, Dorsey is just one tackle away from passing his mark from last season and appears to be on his way to becoming the stud everyone thought he would be coming out of LSU.

Up until the midway point of the ‘09 season, Dorsey showed few signs of life that he was going to become a productive player in Kansas City. It should be no surprise that just as Dorsey experienced, Jackson may now be coming back out of a slump. And it couldn't come at a better time.

After the blowout loss to San Diego, the Chiefs don't have much wiggle room in terms of solidifying a playoff spot. If the Chiefs want to be playing in January, they are going to need a player like Jackson to start exceeding his current status quo.

But even more important than this season's outcome, the organization needs Jackson to be a mainstay on this line because no NFL team can whiff on a third overall pick. If Jackson again starts receding, he could take a good chunk of this young team's progress with him.

But I still have faith in T.J. and so should you.

Jackson is as humble as it gets and the guy has all the skills needed to make him great at his position. The question has been whether he is head strong enough to last at one of the NFL's toughest positions.

So does this guy really want it?

Judging by the way Jackson responded to being benched in favor of Shaun Smith, I would say his play last Sunday speaks for itself.

Share your thoughts on Jackson's performance against the Chargers.

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