Will J.C. Jackson Return To Premier Status In 2023?

Will this be the year that the Chargers benefit from J.C. Jackson’s talents?

Months after cornerback J.C. Jackson went down with a torn patella during the Chargers Week 7 Seattle game, he was back in action on the first day of training camp. According to Daniel Popper of The Athletic, on the first day, he had a pass breakup on a target meant for Keenan Allen and “was the starting outside corner opposite Michael Davis in team drills.”

Brandon Staley during his press conference clarified that they were going to slowly ramp up Jackson to make sure he was ready. He wasn’t involved in the action on the second day of camp but on the third and fourth days, he was right in the thick of it. Based on his progress, it seems he may be ready by the time the season opener comes around.

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Why J.C. Jackson Was Acquired

Jackson was signed to the Chargers last year on a five-year, $82.5 million dollar deal with $40 million guaranteed. Before going to LA, Jackson spent four years in New England. Jackson is that outside corner that you can’t overlook. He’ll wrestle players for the ball, stay with them stride for stride, and if the throw is even slightly short, forget it, he’s already on it. He’ll bear hug, grab an ankle, and magically get the ball out even if it’s already in someone’s hands.

According to Pro Football Focus, until last year his receiver coverage grades have always been in the 70s, and in 2021 he had a career-high of 80.3 as well as in pass breakups (12). He also allowed fewer touchdowns in 2021 (three) than in 2020 (five) with more snaps played.

The Chargers definitely needed help in receiver coverage in 2021, and though Asante Samuel Jr. and Davis did step up in 2022, Samuel has a lot of weaknesses along the boundary.

Jackson was acquired to plug up those holes and stop explosive plays. It seemed like the perfect solution as he was getting better each season. He didn’t turn out to be the player that he was in New England and part of that had to do with injuries, but maybe a small part also had to do with all the changes. This was the first time in his career that he was part of a new team and the newness of the defensive scheme, switching from man heavy to zone coverage, seemed to throw him off.

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Los Angeles Chargers
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Jackson in 2022

Jackson had surgery on his ankle during the summer of 2022 and after that offseason cleanup, he wasn’t the same. According to PFF for the few weeks he played before his season-ending injury, he allowed one receiving touchdown im every game except Week 4 against the Texans. He only had three stops and one pass breakup. His coverage grades were in the 30s, 40s, and 20s. And we all remember the Broncos game where tight end Greg Dulcich ran in for a touchdown with Jackson chasing after him. He was benched for the rest of that game a little later on and Davis took over. He lost his mojo and tried so hard to get it back but nothing worked.

Jackson’s 2023 Season Outlook

Jackson looks ready to go and has come out strong. If he’s the type of player he was in 2021 and prior, the Chargers will be in good shape. He’s shown over the years that he has the tools to play this position at the highest level and now it’s time to execute.

NFL: Las Vegas Raiders at Los Angeles Chargers
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