New England Patriots

New England Patriots

Oct 29, 2023; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; New England Patriots cornerback JC Jackson (29) commits defensive pass interference on Miami Dolphins wide receiver Tyreek Hill (10) during the first half at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 29, 2023; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; New England Patriots cornerback JC Jackson (29) commits defensive pass interference on Miami Dolphins wide receiver Tyreek Hill (10) during the first half at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots are going to be without at least one top cornerback on their depth chart when they make the trip to Germany this weekend. And they’re doing it on purpose.

According to Ian Rapoport, JC Jackson won’t be making the trip out to Frankfurt with the Patriots, who will take on the Indianapolis Colts at the Waldstadion. Rapoport alluded to “reliability” problems, then Albert Breer later tweeted that Jackson was late to the team hotel on Saturday and that played into why he started Sunday’s game on the bench.

Frankly, that added context is not surprising. Jackson notably started last Sunday’s loss to the Washington Commanders on the sideline, before ultimately playing 53 snaps (68 percent), third-most among Patriots cornerbacks.

Oct 29, 2023; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; New England Patriots cornerback JC Jackson (29) commits defensive pass interference on Miami Dolphins wide receiver Tyreek Hill (10) during the first half at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 29, 2023; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; New England Patriots cornerback JC Jackson (29) commits defensive pass interference on Miami Dolphins wide receiver Tyreek Hill (10) during the first half at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The loss to Washington marked the second straight rough Sunday for Jackson, for a number of reasons. He allowed a passer rating of 131.5 in Week 8 against the Dolphins, dinged for five catches, 94 yards, and two touchdowns (via Pro Football Focus). His opposing passer rating against the Commanders was 77.1 with no TDs allowed, but it’s now clear that confidence in Jackson has waned in recent weeks.

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick denied that he deliberately benched Jackson and Jack Jones to begin Sunday’s game. “Everybody played. They all played,” Belichick said when pressed on the matter. Jones drew added attention to himself after the game, when he left the building without speaking to the media then spoke his mind on Twitter.

Clearly, the Patriots have more trust in Shaun Wade, who started against the Commanders, to play his best football against the Colts in Germany, than they do in Jackson.

  • Wade Earns His Role?

    NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - AUGUST 25: Shaun Wade #26 of the New England Patriots reacts after giving up a first down to the Tennessee Titans during the preseason game at Nissan Stadium on August 25, 2023 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Silas Walker/Getty Images)

    NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE – AUGUST 25: Shaun Wade #26 of the New England Patriots reacts after giving up a first down to the Tennessee Titans during the preseason game at Nissan Stadium on August 25, 2023 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Silas Walker/Getty Images)

    Jackson and Jones have dominated the narrative surrounding the Patriots’ cornerback room in recent weeks, and for good reason, because they are the team’s most talented outside guys. But Patriots cornerback coach Mike Pellegrino would like us to focus more on Wade’s rise to starter.

    It’s not a totally unfair stance. Wade was not targeted in his 13 snaps last Sunday, earning a solid 69.1 coverage grade from PFF.

    “I feel like the narrative’s a little messed up, like, ‘What did Shaun do to really earn that?'” Pellegrino said. “Everyone’s trying to make it about [Jackson and Jones], but it’s really ‘What did Shaun really do to earn that right?’ And Shaun had a great week of practice and Shaun played really well and Shaun did his job.

    “I think the narrative should be more pushed towards, ‘What did Shaun do right to earn that opportunity?’ Because Shaun has done a lot of great things here for us in this past year, and is a different player than what he has been in the past. So, my hat’s off to Shaun. He did all the right things, and he got what he deserved.”

  • FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - SEPTEMBER 17: Braxton Berrios #0 of the Miami Dolphins catches a pass against Shaun Wade #26 and Christian Gonzalez #6 of the New England Patriots during the second quarter at Gillette Stadium on September 17, 2023 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

    FOXBOROUGH, MA: Braxton Berrios of the Miami Dolphins catches a pass against Shaun Wade and Christian Gonzalez of the New England Patriots during the second quarter at Gillette Stadium on Sept. 17, 2023. (Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

    Wade probably is more dependable than Jackson at the moment. Pellegrino just has to accept that the reality is the media will focus more on the more talented player having issues than the improved performance of a player (Wade) who has struggled to crack the lineup at all since coming to New England in 2021. But Pellegrino was asked about Jackson and Jones for a third time during his Tuesday presser, so he felt the need to pump up Wade, which is fair.

    Perhaps Wade really is improved and ready to become a regular contributor. Looks like we’ll find out in Germany, and possibly beyond that.

  • Click here for complete New England Patriots coverage at 985TheSportsHub.com.

    Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Check out all of Matt’s content here.

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