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JC Jackson Calls His Return to Foxboro a 'Revenge Game' and He Can't Wait to Pick Off Mac Jones to Show the Pats How Wrong They Were to Let Him Go

Sean M. Haffey. Getty Images.

JC Jackson is one of those truly inspirational, feel good success stories of which there have been so many during the Kraft-Belichick Epoch. A guy who didn't pan out at U. of Florida, had to go the Juco route to work his way back to Maryland before going undrafted. But then the Patriots gave him a shot. He hung onto a roster spot. And then played his way into a starting role, won a Super Bowl, and made a Pro Bowl. Then hit free agency and cashed in with a 5-year, $82 million deal with the Chargers, $40 million of that guaranteed. His is the kind of tale everyone can feel good about. An example for aspiring young athletes who fall through the cracks and get overlooked. That if they get their shot, they too may make the most of the opportunity and get rich. 

So you'd think that Jackson would look back on his journey in New England fondly. And appreciate the organization that believed in him when nobody else would. But you'd be mistaken:

Ah, JCJ. Where do we begin to unpack this? I suppose we'll go in reverse order, chronologically. With his most recent seasons. 

Here is a comparison between his final year in New England and his first year in Los Angeles:

2021: 

  • 18 Games
  • 995 Snaps
  • 8 INTs, 1 for a TD
  • 23 Passes Defensed (led the NFL)
  • 58 Tackles
  • 1 Forced Fumble
  • 52.4 Passer Rating When Targeted (4th lowest among corners)
  • 80.3 Pro Football Coverage Grade (5th highest)

2022:

  • 5 Games
  • 244 Snaps
  • 0 INTs
  • 2 Passes Defensed
  • 15 Tackles
  • 0 Forced Fumbles
  • 152.4 Passer Rating (highest among corners)
  • 28.1 PFF Coverage Grade (lowest among corners)

To be fair, I can appreciate a guy displaying self-confidence. Particularly someone playing Jackson's position, where believing in yourself is a necessity. But going from one of the best corners in the league to statistically the worst - while adding exactly 100.0 points to your passer rating against - on the heels of cashing a $40 million check is a situation that calls for a little humility. Not, and goodness gracious how I do hate this word, swagger

By way of comparison, the Patriots replaced Jackson with 4th round rookie Jack Jones, who had the 10th lowest passer rating against and 16th highest PFF cover grade, playing largely the same wide corner position Jackson did the year before. Which, come to think of it, is what happened when Jackson replaced Malcolm Butler when he signed a huge contract elsewhere. And no sooner did Butler leave than he too fell into a statistical abyss and became one of the worst corners in the league. 

One might almost see a pattern here. 

The thing JC Jackson might want to keep in mind is that a lot of players have left Foxboro during the Dynasty Era to get rich elsewhere. It happens. It's all part of the job. And the way business has always been done at One Patriots Place. But only a precious few have turned into ingrates once they cashed those checks. One who did is Dion Lewis, who got a second lease on life in NE after missing all of the 2013-14 seasons. He got a ring in 2016. Was the lead running back in 2017, with over 1,100 all-purpose yards. Then got PAID by Mike Vrabel in Tennessee, with $20 million, $5.75 million guaranteed. 

But like Jackson before him, Lewis held a grudge:

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Though it didn't last long. He was gone in two years:

Pride goeth before a fall, and all that.

The larger point being that there's no reason for Jackson or anyone else who leaves Bill Belichick's good graces to get (over)paid somewhere else to be salty about it. As Tessio put it in The Godfather, it's not personal here. Only business. Obsessing over how badly you were treated by the very coach, GM and franchise that plucked you from obscurity and made you rich beyond your wildest dreams is no way to go through life:

The other, though by no means less important, takeaway is that HC Bill has a way of getting the most out of his players that other, lesser head coaches do not. Keep that in mind next time one of these UDFAs or late round picks hit the open market. Their track record is not good. 

Anyway, file this away for December 3rd when Mac Jones keeps targeting whoever Jackson is covering. That is, if Jackson is still in the lineup.