J.C. Jackson not producing interceptions on Chargers defense

He denied he was pressuring, and JC Jackson insisted his contract doesn’t weigh him down like an $82.5 million anchor strapped to his back.

Part of the problem, Jackson explained, is that he should push, like playing a tighter, more aggressive style at the line of scrimmage.

“I’m a bump and run corner, a press corner,” Jackson said. “This is my game. I have to stick to my game.”

The Chargers signed Jackson to a five-year contract in March that guarantees him $40 million and is potentially worth more than double that amount. He made money financially after thriving as an undrafted free agent in New England.

Jackson was acquired to spark a defense that has stalled too many times in the past year. The Chargers needed more game changers, more playmakers who could steal footballs and momentum.

In the previous four seasons, no one in the NFL had more interceptions than Jackson’s 25. Last year he made his first Pro Bowl after leading the league with 23 passes defended.

But in three games with his new team, Jackson struggled to produce. He has yet to intercept a pass and has only been credited with a single breakup.

Jackson missed the Chargers’ season opener and then their Week 3 matchup while dealing with the lingering effects of August surgery on his right ankle. Both he and trainer Brandon Staley said the time-out was a factor in his slow start, but Jackson insisted he was healthy.

HOUSTON, TEXAS - OCTOBER 2: JC Jackson #27 of the Los Angeles Chargers warms up.

Chargers cornerback JC Jackson warms up before an October 2 win over the Houston Texans.

(Bob Levey/Getty Images)

“The ankle thing has nothing to do with that,” he said. “It’s more about technique and fundamentals. It’s still a learning curve with defense and everything else. I don’t blame my ankle. I am 100% healthy.”

Staley said: “We brought him here to do what he does best. We’re not trying to change him, that’s for sure. He just goes out with his teammates, gets into the rhythm and plays his game.”

His play, Jackson assured, will be on display soon, with the cornerback suggesting a first-strike approach will result in increased production. As a starter, he’s never played more zone than this season, according to Next Gen Stats.

Last weekend in Cleveland, Jackson was hit by Amari Cooper in the first quarter for an 11-yard touchdown in man-to-man coverage. When the ball was caught, Jackson was almost 10 yards from the line of scrimmage.

He eventually gave up five receptions for 58 yards against the Browns when they targeted him with a team high nine times, according to Pro Football Focus.

But Chargers defensive coordinator Renaldo Hill said Jackson’s performance improved after halftime after coaches “challenged” him and made adjustments.

“In the second half, we felt like the story was a little bit different,” Hill said. “He got into the press and challenged a little bit more and it was looking a lot better. We must continue to do so. … He will mix it up. But we know his strength is coming up and pushing.”

According to the PFF, Jackson has been targeted 20 times this season, allowing 15 receptions for 245 yards and two touchdowns. He clinched 108 of those yards in Week 4 in Houston.

During his four years with the Patriots, Jackson never finished a PFF coverage score below 70. To date, he has achieved less than half that number for the Chargers: 32.1.

“No one knows my confidence better than I do,” Jackson said. “No one has higher standards than me. I will soon return to where I should be. It’s nothing I can’t handle.”

To follow Jackson on Twitter, search for “MR_INT,” a reference to the ball thieves that shaped his time in New England. During a stretch in 2020, he had interceptions in five straight games.

But since his last appearance with the Patriots, he has gone without a pickoff four straight times, giving him the longest such streak of his career in games he has started.

Jackson’s most recent interception came against Trevor Lawrence on Jan. 2, on a day that saw the Jacksonville quarterback picked up three times.

“Every week I feel like JC is growing,” said safety Derwin James Jr. “He’s going to keep improving. Eventually he will play like we know he can play. We all know what kind of player JC is.”

Jackson and James have lockers next to each other at the Chargers’ training facility in Costa Mesa. Last week, as Jackson spoke to reporters, James leaned in and said, “I can’t wait for you to get your first pick.”

Jackson replied, “That’s what they’re waiting for. The world is waiting.”

Recalling that the world embraces the Chargers and their fans, Jackson smiled.

“As soon as I start doing plays, you’ll see,” he said. “Then we’ll see what they have to say then. … It’s only a matter of time.”


The Chargers will likely be without Keenan Allen (hamstring) against Denver Monday night after the wide receiver was limited in practice all week. He was classified as doubtful. … Trey Pipkins III (knee) was listed as questionable but Staley indicated he expects the right tackle to be played. … Kicker Dustin Hopkins (quads) will return after missing last week’s game. … Center Corey Linsley is also expected to play after being pulled from practice on Saturday due to illness.

https://www.latimes.com/sports/chargers/story/2022-10-15/jc-jackson-chargers-defense-interceptions-nfl J.C. Jackson not producing interceptions on Chargers defense

Emma Bowman

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