Bill Belichick wasn’t the only member of the New England Patriots organization raving about J.C. Jackson after the cornerback’s stellar Week 1 performance.
Fellow Patriots corner Stephon Gilmore raved about Jackson during a Friday afternoon video conference.
“J.C.’s a guy that came in and has worked extremely hard,” Gilmore said. “(He’s) very athletic. He can cover anybody, has great ball skills, and he keeps working every day. He knows the game. He’s a natural out there. It’s fun playing with him because you can see him growing each and every day, and on that field, he loves playing the game. He has that thing about him. I’m happy he’s on our team.”
This wasn’t the first time Gilmore had spoken glowingly about his young protégé. Last December, after Jackson pulled down two interceptions in a late-season rout of the Cincinnati Bengals, Gilmore said the 2018 undrafted free agent has “the best ball skills I?ve seen.”
Jackson was excellent last Sunday in a 21-11 win over the Miami Dolphins, allowing two catches on four targets for 18 yards and registering one of the Patriots’ three interceptions. His pick came in the end zone in the final minutes, sealing the win for the Patriots in their 2020 season opener.
That performance earned Jackson, Pro Football Focus’ third-highest-graded cornerback in Week 1, the game ball and some notably high praise from head coach Bill Belichick.
?I really take my hat off to J.C.,? Belichick said in his postgame video conference. ?I thought J.C. really competed well today. He showed a lot of mental toughness and a real competitiveness in the game for him to make that play at the end to seal the win. … So I just wanted to personally congratulate him for that. It was good.?
Gilmore and Jackson formed arguably the NFL’s top cornerback duo in 2019, with the former winning Defensive Player of the Year and the latter leading the league in passer rating against. They and the rest of New England’s deep, versatile secondary will face one of their toughest tests of the season Sunday night against Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks.
Wilson is arguably the NFL’s top deep-ball thrower, and few receiver tandems can rival Seattle’s Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf. Lockett and Metcalf combined for 140 catches, 15 touchdowns and nearly 2,000 receiving yards last season, and both topped 90 yards last Sunday in a 38-25 win over the Atlanta Falcons.
“Those guys are very explosive,” Gilmore said. “D.K. (is) very strong, very explosive, can make big catches. And Lockett is a great receiver, too. Great speed, good after the catch. He’s got a great quarterback, too. So it’s going to be a big challenge for us.”
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images