Brandon Staley says Chargers are still in J.C. Jackson’s corner as their starter
Coach Brandon Staley said Wednesday the team plans to keep the struggling cornerback in the starting lineup after Jackson was pulled after the second quarter Monday in a 19-16 overtime victory over Denver.
“There’s a reason why we went and got this guy, because we believe in him,” Staley said. “Just because it hasn’t started, you know, in a Hollywood fashion doesn’t mean it’s not going to end that way.”
Jackson was lifted in favor of Michael Davis after two glaring 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 halftime.
Years before standout NFL cornerback J.C. Jackson signed with the Chargers, his life in a small Florida town was nearly derailed by armed robbery charges.
But Staley, reiterating that patience is a necessity in Jackson’s situation, said he remains committed to getting the 2021 Pro Bowler “in a comfort zone.”
“We expect him to be out there this week and playing his brand 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 anybody.”
The Chargers signed Jackson in March to a five-year contract that guarantees him $40 million and is worth up to $82.5 million. His 25 interceptions since entering the league in 2018 lead the NFL.
Jackson looked solid throughout training camp before undergoing a surgical procedure on his right ankle Aug. 23. He missed the opener and then the Chargers’ Week 3 loss to Jacksonville while dealing with lingering aftereffects.
When on the field, Jackson’s play has been uneven as he continues to adjust to Staley’s scheme after spending the first four seasons of his career in New England, where Jackson blossomed as an undrafted free agent.
Although the Chargers again gave up some big plays in the first half against Denver, the unit’s second-half domination helped win the game in overtime.
In the first quarter Monday, Jackson ran inside with wide receiver KJ Hamler leaving tight end Greg Dulcich uncovered for a 39-yard touchdown. Just before halftime, Hamler streaked past Jackson for a 47-yard reception.
Jackson also was called for pass interference in the first quarter against Courtland Sutton, the miscue costing the Chargers another 21 yards.
At that point, Staley had seen enough.
“The coaches just told me I would be down in the second half,” Jackson said 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 stuff you just gotta deal with.”
Jackson said his issues have been the result of mental mistakes and a struggle to grasp Staley’s system, a defense some Chargers have called complicated.
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Asked if his confidence has been shaken, Jackson admitted: “A little bit. Yeah, a little bit.”
“I didn’t play my best game Monday,” he added. “I could have played better. It’s a process. I’m getting there.”
Staley and Jackson met Wednesday morning to discuss the team’s plans in advance of facing the Seahawks, who feature wide receivers DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett.
Staley characterized their talk as nothing out of the ordinary and rather straightforward.
“The conversations are the ones that we have all the time,” he said. “When you develop good relationships with people, it’s not like some big powwow. It’s just, ‘Hey, this is what we need to do. This is where we need to go.’ What we gotta do is stick with him because he has what it takes. It’s our job to get him there.”
Chargers-Broncos takeaways: Corner J.C. Jackson was the Chargers’ prize free-agent acquisition in the offseason, but has not played well and against Denver was benched at halftime after giving up several big plays.
Jackson isn’t the first member of the Chargers’ secondary to get benched through the season’s first six weeks. Safety Nasir Adderley lost his starting job to Alohi Gilman when the team played at Cleveland on Oct. 9.
Adderley returned to the starting lineup against Denver and played all 58 of the Chargers’ defensive snaps. Staley praised Adderley on Wednesday for the way he bounced back.
Now, the coach is hoping for a similar result with Jackson.
“We’re going to make sure that we stay patient with him because he’s got all the tools that we’re looking for,” Staley said. “I gotta do a better job coaching him. … He came here to do the job that he’s doing. I think it’s just us getting him in as good a rhythm as possible. The practice time, the meeting time — the consistency of that.
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“As you guys know, it was disrupted (because of his surgical procedure) at the beginning of the season. I think that has caused a setback in terms of his development within our team and getting him playing his game within our team.
“There’s just a lot of little things that go into that. But we’re going to make sure we have a great week of practice starting [Wednesday] and get him to the game feeling his best.”
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