It's been a rough debut for J.C. Jackson in Los Angeles. The former Patriots star, who racked up 22 interceptions in his final three seasons with New England, missed two of his first three Chargers games due to offseason ankle surgery. The cornerback subsequently struggled to stand out on one of the NFL's worst pass defenses during the first quarter of the year. Then, on Monday night against the Broncos, Jackson was outright benched to start the second half, replaced by Michael Davis.
Jackson, 26, was one of L.A.'s splashiest additions in a busy offseason, signing a five-year, $82.5 million deal in free agency. But he found himself on the wrong end of several early deep shots from Russell Wilson against Denver. When the Chargers took the field in the third quarter, the seventh-year veteran Davis had taken his spot opposite Asante Samuel Jr. in the secondary.
"It just wasn't good enough in the first half, and we felt like we needed to make a change," coach Brandon Staley said later, per Chargers Wire, singling out Jackson for his coverage on long catches by K.J. Hamler and Greg Dulcich. "Mike gave us a chance in the second half."
This continues an unfortunate trend for Jackson, who has allowed an opponent passer rating of over 145 during his first year with L.A. Just this week, the corner admitted he hasn't yet lived up to his All-Pro resume and lucrative contract, telling The Athletic he was still working on "getting that confidence back, that swag back." He notably also surrendered critical throws in the Chargers' close win over the Browns in Week 5, when Amari Cooper easily outmaneuvered him in the end zone.
Jackson was one of the NFL's top ballhawks with the Patriots, logging five picks despite making just six starts in 2019, then intercepting a career-high nine passes the following year. He earned his first All-Pro nod in 2021, registering eight picks to go along with a league-leading 23 pass deflections.