Patriots CBs coach says he’s ‘seen J.C. (Jackson)’s professionalism take off this year’

Patriots Wire

The New England Patriots have seen cornerback J.C. Jackson evolve in an entirely new way over the last year or two.

Jackson emerged in New England as an undrafted free agent after demonstrating his unique gifts during training camp. The Patriots immediately made him a part of their cornerback rotation in his first year. By his second season in 2019, he was a big part of the team’s defense with 68% of snaps. Last season, when Stephon Gilmore went down with an injury, Jackson elevated to CB1 and has been sensational in the role, particularly this season when the team elected to trade away Gilmore.

“Really just seen JC’s professionalism take off this year,” Patriots cornerbacks coach Mike Pellegrino said Monday. “Super proud of him. Taking care of his body extremely well. Preparing it well. Studying his opponents. Not that he hasn’t done all of this in the past. But there’s that next level when you step forward and get going. I’m sure he’s willing to talk about it. I’m not gonna go into too much detail about his personal life and like how he prepares and what he does.

“I’ll let him speak on that. But just as a coach, watching him as a rookie and then watching him grow, you’re just extremely proud. You’re just happy to see the growth take place and him absorb the knowledge in the building, from guys like Steph (Gilmore), guys like (Jason McCourty), guys like Jon Jones, Devin (McCourty), guys they’ve worked really close with, and you just see him absorb and take all that knowledge in and really apply it over the years. ”

Jackson is headed into the expiration of his contract after the best season of his career, which will leave the Patriots with a few options: place the franchise tag on their star CB, extend his contract or let him walk in free agency. Considering how important Jackson has been for the team — and how they don’t have a way of replacing him — the Patriots might use the franchise tag for 2022. But his contract will be the biggest storyline for New England this offseason.