The tumultuous start to JC Jackson’s time with the Chargers will continue Sunday when he returns to the field against Seattle.
Coach Brandon Staley said Wednesday the team plans to keep the struggling cornerback in the starting lineup after Jackson was pulled after Monday’s second quarter in a 19-16 overtime win over Denver.
“There’s a reason we got this guy because we believe in him,” Staley said. “Just because it didn’t start the Hollywood way doesn’t mean it won’t end that way.”
Jackson was waived in favor of Michael Davis after two blatant misplays and a pass interference penalty.
The Chargers’ defense played significantly better after the move, limiting the Broncos to three points, five first downs and 72 total yards after the halftime.
But Staley, who reiterated that patience is a necessity in Jackson’s situation, said he remains committed to putting the 2021 Pro Bowler “in a comfort zone.”
“We expect him to be out there this week playing his kind of ball,” Staley said. “I think he’s going to learn a lot from what happened the other night, what he needs to do with his game, what we need to do as coaches. … That’s as much on me as it is on everyone else.”
The Chargers signed Jackson to a five-year deal in March that guarantees him $40 million and is valued at up to $82.5 million. His 25 interceptions since joining the league in 2018 lead the NFL.
Jackson looked solid throughout training camp before undergoing surgery on his right ankle on August 23. He missed the opener and then the Chargers’ Week 3 loss to Jacksonville while dealing with lingering aftermath.
On the field, Jackson’s game was inconsistent as he continued to adapt to Staley’s scheme after spending the first four seasons of his career in New England, where Jackson thrived as an undrafted free agent.
In Monday’s first quarter, Jackson ran in with wide receiver KJ Hamler, leaving tight end Greg Dulcich exposed for a 39-yard touchdown. Just before halftime, Hamler sped past Jackson for a 47-yard reception.
Jackson was also called out for pass interference in the first quarter against Courtland Sutton, with the error costing the Chargers an additional 21 yards.
At this point, Staley had seen enough.
“The coaches just told me I was going to be out in the second half,” Jackson said on Wednesday. “I didn’t ask why at the time, because I wanted to focus on the game. It’s part of the game. … I just dealt with it. Some things you just have to deal with.”
Jackson said his troubles were the result of mental flaws and a struggle to understand Staley’s system, a defense some Chargers have called complicated.
When asked if his confidence was shaken, Jackson admitted, “A little bit. Yes a little.”
“I didn’t play my best game on Monday,” he added. “I could have played better. It’s a process. I’ll get there.”
Staley and Jackson met Wednesday morning to discuss the team’s plans ahead of the clash with the Seahawks, who feature wide receivers DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett.
Staley characterized their conversation as nothing out of the ordinary and fairly direct.
“The conversations are the ones we have all the time,” he said. “When you build good relationships with people, it’s not like a big powwow. It’s just, ‘Hey, that’s what we have to do. This is where we have to go.” We have to stay with him because he has what it takes. It’s our job to get him there.”
Jackson isn’t the first member of the Chargers’ secondary school to be benched for the first six weeks of the season. Safety Nasir Adderley lost his starting job to Alohi Gilman when the team played in Cleveland on October 9th.
Adderley returned to the starting lineup against Denver and played all of the Chargers’ 58 defensive snaps. Staley on Wednesday praised Adderley for the way he bounced back.
Now the coach is hoping for a similar result with Jackson.
“We’re going to make sure we stay patient with him because he has all the tools we’re looking for,” Staley said. “I need to train him better. … He came here to do his job. I think it’s just up to us to get him into a rhythm as best we can. The practice time, the meeting time – the consistency of it.
“As you know, it was put on hold (due to his surgery) at the start of the season. I think that caused a setback in his inner development our team and get him to play his game inside our Team.
“There are just a lot of little things that play a role. But we will make sure we start a great week of training [Wednesday] and bring him to the game where he feels at his best.”
https://www.latimes.com/sports/chargers/story/2022-10-19/chargers-prepare-for-home-game-vs-seattle Brandon Staley: Chargers will continue to start J.C. Jackson