Updated: Oct 11
The Patriots fell to 1-4 on the season after a 34-0 shutout conducted by the New Orleans Saints. New England suffered a couple more injuries after already having two devastating losses last week in Christian Gonzalez (shoulder) and Matthew Judon (bicep) appearing to be done for the season. After a blowout loss to Dallas the previous week, one of the lone positives that was reported out of the Patriots’ camp leading up to the home matchup was the necessary trade for disgruntled Charger and former Patriot J.C. Jackson. Jackson was seen sporting the new number 29, while teammate Myles Bryant now wears Jackson’s original number, 27.
It was reported from L.A. leading up to the trade, that Jackson and the Chargers didn’t necessarily see eye-to-eye. Jackson was a mysterious healthy scratch in week three against Minnesota, despite recording an interception two weeks prior versus the Dolphins. After Minnesota, Jackson was active in week four against the Raiders, but reportedly refused to go into the game when told to, despite the Chargers being thin at corner.
New England has certainly caught the injury bug this season, especially in the defensive backfield. The Patriots lost Jack Jones before the season even started, placing him on short-term injured reserve for a hamstring, then they lost both Marcus Jones and Jonathan Jones in week two, Marcus with a torn Labrum and Jonathan with an ankle.
Christian Gonzalez going out for the season in the Dallas game forced the Patriots’ hand, with them needing to make a move at cornerback. So, New England went out and got a familiar face, in former pro-bowler Jackson. The Patriots traded a 2025 sixth-round pick for Jackson and a 2025 seventh-round pick. This is a classic Patriots move, in bringing back a former Patriot. Jackson is now the 29th player to have at least two stints with the Patriots since 2000.
At first, Jackson appeared to come onto the squad at just the right time, being able to suit up against New Orleans in a must-win game, along with the return of Jonathan Jones. As everyone knows now, not even the two starting-caliber corners could stop the inevitable on Sunday.
Jackson is certainly an upgrade over Shaun Wade and Myles Bryant, having proven himself in the NFL for over five years now. Jackson came into the league as an undrafted free agent out of Maryland, signing with the Patriots in 2018. Jackson signed a three-year $1.72 million contract with a $10,000 signing bonus.
The rookie earned his keep, making the 53-man roster after an impressive training camp and preseason. Jackson also took some reps at receiver on the scout team from time to time, likely due to his experience at the position in high school, with him being ranked the 20th best high school wide receiver in the class of 2014 by 247sports.com. Jackson's experience at receiver certainly explains his soft hands, and showed versatility, a trait that the Patriots have always valued highly.
Jackson adjusted to the NFL quickly, getting his first interception in week four of his rookie season against the Dolphins, he then had another three weeks later against the Bears. Jackson then recorded his first NFL start in week 13 versus the Vikings. The rookie made an immediate and clear impact, finishing the season with 24 tackles, six pass breakups, three interceptions, and a super bowl ring.
The following season, Jackson got off to a hot start, having a career game in week four against the Bills. Jackson picked off Josh Allen twice, as well as blocking a punt that was returned for a touchdown by Matthew Slater, to cap off a 16-10 Patriots win. Jackson would go on to put up three more interceptions on the season, as well as 34 tackles and 10 pass breakups.
2020 was the year that Jackson exploded, recording 37 stops, 14 pass breakups, three fumble recoveries, and nine interceptions. Five of Jackson’s nine interceptions were in five consecutive games, setting a franchise record for consecutive games with an interception. One of Jackson’s interceptions helped lead the Patriots to a 23-17 upset victory over the Ravens in week 10. The Maryland product’s performance in his third NFL season earned him the 49th spot in the NFL’s Top 100 List, which is determined by other NFL players, as well as his nickname, “Mr. I.N.T.”.
After signing a restricted free agent tender with the Patriots worth nearly $4 million, Jackson followed up his stellar 2020 season with an equally impressive 2021 season. Jackson intercepted eight passes, one of which being his first career pick-six, along with defending 23 passes (a career high) and posting 58 total tackles and a forced fumble. Jackson was selected to the Pro Bowl and ranked 20th in the NFL’s Top 100 List at the conclusion of the season.
That offseason, Jackson tested free agency and got a big payday from the Chargers, in the form of a five-year $82.5 million contract. Jackson’s Chargers debut got off to a rocky start, missing most of the preseason and season opener due to ankle surgery. The season did not improve much for Jackson, with him getting benched on Monday Night Football in week six, and tearing his patellar tendon the very next week, ending his season.
As stated earlier, the relationship between L.A. and the veteran cornerback only seemed to worsen after his disappointing 2022 season. Part of the suspected reason that there was some controversy between Jackson and the organization was his legal situation. An arrest warrant was issued for Jackson in late September, the warrant stemmed from a failure to appear in court for a probation violation hearing. The violation in question was a 2020 speeding incident in South Attleboro, Massachusetts, where Jackson was charged with driving to endanger, after driving at speeds up to 100 miles per hour. The arrest warrant was lifted after Jackson appeared in Attleboro District Court on October fifth. The 27-year-old is now required to pay a fine of $300 and complete an online reckless driving course.
Although Jackson’s legal situation may not seem too bad compared to some of the incidents the NFL has seen in the past, this is not Jackson’s first run-in with the law. Jackson has had legal issues since his college days.
Jackson committed to the University of Florida in 2014 as a four-star recruit and Under Armor All-American out of Immokalee High School in Immokalee, Florida. After missing pretty much his entire freshman season at Florida due to a shoulder injury he suffered in the season opener, Jackson was dismissed from the program the following year due to legal issues. His first college season was penciled in as a medical redshirt year.
In 2015, Jackson was charged with four felony counts concerning an armed robbery of a home, but Jackson was eventually acquitted. Jackson went on to play his second collegiate season at Riverside Community College in Riverside, California before transferring to Maryland.
In his first year at Maryland, Jackson started 11 of 12 games, recorded 40 tackles, an interception, and led the team in pass breakups, with five. In his junior year, Jackson had his best season, starting in all 12 games and putting up 40 tackles, three interceptions, and seven pass breakups. This performance would earn Jackson Honorable Mention All-Conference, and he would go on to declare for the NFL draft.
During the combine and draft, some suspected that Jackson’s legal history would cause him to drop, and it did, with him originally being projected to go in the fifth to sixth round. The legal issues may not have been the only reason Jackson went undrafted and had some trouble in L.A., with him having some injury history and inconsistencies in his game.
Although Jackson is a physical press-man corner with a ball-hawking flair, he does have some drawbacks. Jackson can let up some big plays (watch the 2021 playoff game against Bills), and he can let some guys get separation, but he is more often than not in the zip code. Although he is scrappy, has great hands, and can hit, Jackson’s inconsistency and limitations keep him from elevating to that elite number one corner status, he also seems to have trouble with elite guys like Stefon Diggs and Tyreek Hill. To compare Jackson to another corner, a good comp. would be fellow Patriot Jack Jones, an explosive player that can cause some turnovers, but can also let up a 30-yard touchdown.
Although Mr. I.N.T. isn’t necessarily a lockdown corner, like Pats fans were hoping for with Gonzalez, but he is still a sturdy piece going forward, having a career record of 176 tackles, 26 interceptions, 58 PBUs, one forced fumble and three fumble recoveries so far. Look at it this way, the Patriots needed a piece at corner, with the depth becoming thin, and they got one, one that is also familiar with New England's system and scheme. With Jackson, Jonathan Jones and hopefully soon to return Jack Jones, the Patriots’ defense can get back to competing, but as the recent scores have shown, there needs to be more happening on the other side of the ball as well.
With the future of the season and quite possibly the organization on the line going into a week five matchup against the Raiders in Vegas, Jackson and the Patriots’ defense will have an interesting challenge ahead. With guys like Davante Adams, Hunter Renfrow, and former Patriot Jakobi Meyers lining up against Jackson and the defense, it will be another true test. Hopefully both the defense and especially the offense can step up in Vegas.
Make sure to check out fansonlysportz.com for your local sports updates! - WD