COSTA MESA, Calif. — J.C. Jackson’s time in Los Angeles has been far from what both the Chargers and Jackson himself anticipated when the team signed the cornerback to a five-year, $82.5 million contract in March 2022.
The Bolts hoped he would help improve their secondary coming off a four-year career in New England where he recorded 25 interceptions. Since joining the Chargers, however, Jackson has recorded just one interception amid injuries and uneven play.
Jackson was listed as a healthy scratch ahead of the team’s win over the Vikings last Sunday, a decision that surprised a lot of people and confused Jackson.
“I don’t know, what else do they expect me to do?” Jackson told NFL.com on Wednesday in the Chargers’ locker room. “I told coach (Brandon Staley) what else do you expect me to do? I’ve been doing everything. I came back from my injury pretty fast. I’ve been putting in extra work after practice, even in meeting rooms. The DBs every Friday we all meet to do extra film and being a good teammate, so I don’t know what it is. I’m still kind of confused and still don’t have answers to why I’m getting treated like this.”
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Jackson, who is working back from a torn patellar tendon suffered in Week 7 of last season, still believes he can be the guy the Chargers brought him here to be.
“I know what I can do,” Jackson said. “I know that I can help the team so it kind of frustrates me that I’m not starting and that coach has me sitting out, and I’m one of the best players on the team. I’m one of the best [defensive backs] that we have.”
Jackson played 42 defensive snaps in a Week 1 loss to the Dolphins, recording three passes defensed and an interception. In Week 2, he played 39 defensive snaps, recording three tackles.
The Chargers allowed a 110.0 passer rating in Week 1 and a 123.3 passer rating in Week 2, and that number decreased in Week 3 to 97.7 with Jackson sidelined. This improvement was also apparent in third-down conversions allowed (44.4 percent in Week 1, 46.2 in Week 2 and 28.6 in Week 3) and red-zone touchdown percentage (60 in Week 1, 75 in Week 2, 25 in Week 3).
According to Pro Football Focus, the Chargers’ coverage grade was 39 in Week 1, ranking 31st in the league; 60.4 in Week 2 (25th); and 68.9 in Week 3 (14th).
Staley told reporters after the Chargers’ win in Minnesota that the decision to bench Jackson was a “coach’s decision.”
“We felt like this was the right group for this game,” he added.
Staley further explained on Monday that Jackson working his way back into the cornerback rotation will be determined by what he does with his preparation and practice.
“He is on our team and we expect him to prepare and practice and continue to improve,” Staley said. “That’s what our expectations are for him.”
Jackson said he respected Staley’s decision on the situation.
“It’s bigger than me,” Jackson told NFL.com on Wednesday. “That’s the coach’s decision. I’m just being a player and doing my job and listening to the coaches.”
Staley also told reporters this week that his decision to bench Jackson was not related to the Sept. 25 news that an arrest warrant has been issued for Jackson after he failed to appear for a court hearing on traffic charges in Massachusetts.
Jackson, who did not begin training camp on the team’s physically unable to perform (PUP) list, said he feels like he’s improved physically from Week 1. He added that he feels faster and more explosive, but that his performance struggles early on have been because he’s not 100 percent healthy yet.
“That’s exactly what it is, I’m not 100 percent,” he said. “I know that the doctors know that. I’m not 100 percent so I’m doing my best. We’re giving the team what they want. I’m doing my best and I don’t know what they expect me to do.”
As for if Jackson still feels like he can be a part of the Chargers team and contribute, he said: “Absolutely.”
“Just turn on the film, look at my play style, look at what I did in the past,” Jackson said on Wednesday.
Staley said this week that Jackson’s role moving forward is a “work in progress” that will be determined by what happens this week in practice.
The Chargers (1-2) host the Raiders (1-2) this Sunday.
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