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2019 NFL playoffs: Patriots rookie cornerback J.C. Jackson ain’t scared

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On the eve of his first playoff game, the undrafted rookie is ready for anyone and everyone.

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at New England Patriots Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

FUN FACT: Today in “getting old is real and it can happen to you”, J.C. Jackson was 7 years old when this song came out:

Note to self: ask Tom Brady for his tips on how to defeat time.

Fast forward to the present, and comparing J.C.’s rookie season to Malcolm Butler’s rookie campaign really only holds water for as long as it takes Brady to release a football, as our fearless leader Bernd Buchmasser detailed right before Christmas. Not only is Jackson playing more than double the snaps that Butler did in their respective wet-behind-the-ears seasons, J.C’s been targeted more while allowing fewer yards and picking off 3 passes compared to Butler’s goose egg in the INT category. And if Passer Rating allowed is your thing, when J.C. was targeted (at the time when Bernd did the research in week 14), he was allowing a 37.9 passer rating compared to Malcolm’s 116.3.

Reminder: passer rating goes all the way up to 158.3. 37.9 is hung over Blake Bortles.

Meanwhile, after the customary bye week in New England that’s been a welcome chance for the Pats to lick their wounds and get in some full-pad practices, J.C.’s about to suit up and presumably hold down his CB2 spot in his first-ever playoff game after almost not even making it through college and on to an NFL roster. And if Stephon Gilmore’s more the “I let my play do my talking” type, let’s just say Jackson falls much, much closer to the Jalen Ramsey, prime Richard Sherman brand of...let’s call it “confidence”.

From NBC Sports Boston’s Phil Perry:

“I feel like nobody could catch a pass on me, that’s my mindset,” Jackson on Wednesday. “Whoever I’m guarding, whoever’s in front of me, that’s my job. Make sure he doesn’t catch the ball.”

Of course I’m nervous; it’s my first playoff game,” Jackson said. “I’m nervous but I’m ready. It’s a ‘ready’ nervous.”

And some more from NESN’s Zack Cox on having a target on his back as a rookie:

“Yeah, of course,” he said. “I’m a rookie, so every game, I feel like I got tested. They were trying me. But I feel like I responded good. … But they’re still going to throw at me. And I’m ready.”

With the Pulpit crew expecting the Chargers to stick with their 11-personnel sets (1 back, 1 tight end, 3 receivers) for most of the afternoon, that usually spells prime time for New England to be trotting out at least 5 defensive backs to counter, if not more - ironically, just like Los Angeles bamboozled the Ravens with basically a full-time 7-DB plan on defense, the Patriots have had their fair share of luck this year bringing back the old-school-is-new-school Amoeba look that also features 6, 7, or 8 secondary players blitzing and playing “out of position”.

(the air quotes are only there because, at the rate the league is going, what even is a “linebacker” anymore, really? Bill’s as close to cracking the code to truly positionless football as anybody.)

So one way or another, JC’s more than likely going to see a whole lot of time on the field on Sunday, and one can only assume he’s as FIRED UP as Phillip Rivers. Maybe even more!