Report sheds light on J.C. Jackson's troubling tenure with Chargers originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
The Chargers traded Jackson to the Patriots on Oct. 4, reuniting the sixth-year cornerback with the team that employed him for his first four NFL seasons while seemingly giving New England extra defensive back depth after Christian Gonzalez's injury.
Jackson has struggled in five games with the Patriots, however: His 38.9 grade on Pro Football Focus ranks 112th among 115 qualified cornerbacks, and he and fellow cornerback Jack Jones reportedly began Sunday's game against the Washington Commanders on the bench due to "recent performance issues."
A report from ESPN.com's Kris Rhim suggests Jackson's struggles go back to his Chargers tenure, and that he left a pretty negative impression on his former team.
According to Rhim, many in the Chargers organization thought Jackson "approached practices with a 'lackadaisical' attitude" and "didn't respond well to coaching." Earlier this season, Chargers team sources told Rhim that Jackson was approaching practices and meetings "without a sense of urgency," which led to Los Angeles benching him for a Week 3 matchup against the Minnesota Vikings.
The Chargers made Jackson active the following week against the Las Vegas Raiders, but when coaches called on him to enter the game in the second half, Jackson "refused and stayed on the sideline with his shoes untied, citing that he wasn't warm enough to play," Rhim reported, citing team sources.
In fact, Jackson's final days with the team were so fraught that Chargers general manager Tom Telesco walked into the team's first defensive backs meeting after trading Jackson and apologized to the group for signing the cornerback to a five-year, $82.5 million contract back in 2021, calling the decision a "swing and a miss," per Rhim.
Rhim's reporting sheds light on why the Chargers were willing to deal their highly-paid cornerback to the Patriots, and may explain why Jackson has continued to struggle despite a return to the franchise where he blossomed into a Pro Bowl player.
The Patriots likely hoped Jackson could recreate some of his early-career success when they brought him back in. Instead, their secondary allowed 325 passing yards to Commanders quarterback Sam Howell, one week after giving up 324 passing yards to the Miami Dolphins and QB Tua Tagovailoa.
Perhaps Jackson will turn things around after his mini-benching Sunday. But all in all, it's been a rough season-plus for the 27-year-old.