The LA Chargers signed star cornerback JC Jackson to a five-year deal during the 2022 offseason and it looked like a home run. Defensive-minded head coach Brandon Staley finally got his CB1 to help craft the defense he was looking to create on the Bolts.
As fans painfully know, it never quite worked out. Jackson had elective surgery on his ankle right before the 2022 season that set his debut back. He struggled once he did see the field. Then, in Week 7 of the 2022 season, he ruptured his patellar tendon.
Jackson made a quick recovery to start the 2023 season but it was not pretty. He single-handedly lost the game against the Miami Dolphins. He was inactive in Week 3. He reportedly didn't enter the game when asked in Week 4. He was traded before Week 5.
In classic Chargers fashion, the Jackson of old has re-emerged with the New England Patriots. He has not been perfect, but he has definitely been miles better than he was when he was with the Chargers.
JC Jackson's resurgence away from the Chargers is yet another knock on Brandon Staley
There have still been some bad moments (such as the big touchdown pass he allowed to Stefon Diggs) but for the most part, Jackson has played very solidly seen rejoining the Patriots. It is a testament to what coaching and scheme can do for a player.
There are a myriad of reasons why Staley's seat is starting to heat up in Los Angeles but this may be one of the most telling. Staley is meant to be a defensive guru; someone who was hired by the Chargers because he could lead a team of men and can give Justin Herbert one of the best defenses in the league to fall back on.
Instead, Staley has been piloting one of the worst defenses in the sport and excuses have been made for him in the past. Those excuses have ran out this season with Jackson's revival being perhaps the most telling evidence.
Jackson certainly deserves blame for his struggles in Los Angeles, this is not to absolve him of his poor play and bad decision-making. But this is a classic example of a coach not putting his player in a position to succeed. The job of a good head coach (or coordinator) is to elevate the talent on the roster, not bring it down.
This has long been the problem with Staley. Instead of conforming to what his players are good at on the defensive side of the ball, he is trying to force square pegs into round holes and force them to be good at his scheme. The results have spoken for themselves both on the Chargers and with Jackson's play away from the team.
Maybe Jackson's performance away from LA can be an eye-opener for Staley, and with his job on the line, perhaps he changes his philosophy and can try to save this Chargers season. But if it has not worked thus far, it probably won't magically turn around in his third season.