One week after going up against the likes of Zach Wilson and Mike White, the New England Patriots defense will face a different kind of challenge. The team will travel to California in Week 8 to take on a 4-2 Los Angeles Chargers team that appears to be a serious contender in the AFC this year.
One big reason for that is the performance of second-year quarterback Justin Herbert. Playing in an offense that also features top-tier talent such as wide receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Williams as well running back Austin Ekeler, Herbert has produced an impressive second-year campaign so far: in six games, he has completed 65.4 percent of his pass attempts for 1,771 yards, 14 touchdowns and 4 interceptions.
The Chargers passing offense is one of the better units in the game, and it projects as a difficult matchup for the Patriots’ secondary. Just don’t tell J.C. Jackson.
Asked how big of a challenge the Los Angeles passing game is on Thursday, New England’s number one cornerback gave a straight-forward answer.
“I mean, it’s not really a big challenge,” he said. “I mean, we just have to do what we do best: play our football and trust each other, trust our teammates.”
This is not the first time the Patriots have expressed confidence in their abilities this season; following their overtime loss to the Dallas Cowboys in Week 6 multiple players claimed that the team would be better than its 2-4 record at the time. What followed was a 54-13 beatdown of the Jets — New England’s most lopsided win since a 45-0 victory over last December.
Who was the opponent that day? These L.A. Chargers.
New England held Herbert to a 26-for-53 passing performance for 209 yards and a pair of interceptions. One of those picks was caught by none other than Mr. Interception himself, J.C. Jackson.
Despite his success against the team in the past, and his statements about the challenge it may or may not represent, Jackson also said some positive words about one Charger in particular: Keenan Allen, who he called “one of the top receivers in the game” and labeled as Herbert’s “go-to guy.”
“I respect the guy,” Jackson said. “He’s a great route-runner. He’s slick with it, and he’s got hands.”
New England’s number one cover corner, Jackson is expected see his fair share of Allen on Sunday. The matchup could go a long way towards the Patriots leaving L.A. victoriously for a second straight year.