Chargers’ JC Jackson keeps starting job after benching

COSTA MESA — In the end, J.C. Jackson did not lose his starting cornerback position despite being benched for the second half of the Chargers’ overtime victory Monday night over the Denver Broncos, coach Brandon Staley said Wednesday. Jackson will start Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks.

“There’s a reason why we got this guy – because we believe in him,” Staley said. “Just because it hasn’t started in a Hollywood fashion doesn’t mean it’s not going to end that way. What we’ve got to do is we’ve got to stay with him because he has what it takes. It’s our job to get him there.”

Michael Davis replaced Jackson, a prized free-agent signing, in the second half against the Broncos and there’s every indication he’ll be called upon again if Jackson’s struggles continue against the Seahawks. Davis helped to hold the Broncos to a field goal in the second half of the Chargers’ 19-16 victory.

Jackson was beaten on two big plays in the first half, a 39-yard touchdown pass play from quarterback Russell Wilson to tight end Greg Dulcich in the first quarter and a 47-yard pass play from Wilson to KJ Hamler that set up a field goal on the last play of the second quarter.

“J.C. had a tough night the other night,” Staley said. “We’re going to make sure we stay patient with him, OK? Because he’s got all the tools that we’re looking for. I’ve got to do a better job of coaching him, getting him in a comfort zone. We expect him to be out there this week, playing his brand of ball. He’s going to learn a lot from what happened the other night, what he needs to do with his game, what we need to do as coaches. That’s as much on me as anybody.”

Jackson appeared to have settled into the Chargers’ defensive game plan during training camp, standing out during drills and scrimmages. But things took an unexpected turn when he underwent minor ankle surgery Aug. 23 and was sidelined for about a month.

He didn’t play in the Chargers’ season-opening victory Sept. 11 over the Las Vegas Raiders, made his debut in their loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sept. 15 and then was sidelined for their loss Sept. 25 to the Jacksonville Jaguars. He has played in each of the past three games.

“No, I don’t think anything different schematically,” Staley said when asked if adjustments needed to be made to aid Jackson, who is in his first season with the Chargers after signing a five-year, $82.5-million free-agent contract after four standout seasons with the New England Patriots.

Jackson had eight interceptions and a career-high 58 tackles last season with the Patriots, after he had a career-best nine interceptions and 40 tackles in 2020. He doesn’t have an interception in four games with the Chargers, and he’s recorded 13 tackles – none in Monday’s game.

Davis had two tackles after replacing Jackson in the second half.

“He came here to do the job he’s doing,” Staley said of Jackson. “It’s just us getting him in as good a rhythm as possible. I think it’s practice time, meeting time – the consistency of that. It was disrupted at the beginning of the season (by the ankle surgery) and that, I think, has caused a setback in terms of his development within our team and getting him playing his game within our team.

“There’s just a lot of little things that go into that.”

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Staley said he spoke with Jackson before the Chargers held a walk-through Wednesday afternoon and laid out the expectations for him. It was more of an attempt to get Jackson reoriented after he made what Staley described Monday as mental rather than physical mistakes.

“It’s not like some big pow-wow,” Staley said of their meeting. “It’s just, this is what we need to do, this is where we need to go, and really define that plan and what we expect from you. I think we’re going to get a chance to go through it (Wednesday) and maximize it (Wednesday).”

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