Final season, underneath head coach Ron Rivera and defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio, the Washington Soccer Group ranked third general in Soccer Outsiders’ Defensive DVOA metric, and second solely to the Steelers in opposition to the go. Cornerbacks Kendall Fuller, Ronald Darby, Fabian Moreau, and Jimmy Moreland allowed a complete of 9 touchdowns and 7 interceptions, and with Darby off to the Broncos on a three-year, $30 million deal, it was time for reinforcements.
As a substitute of a mean reinforcement, the Soccer Group agreed to phrases with the perfect cornerback within the 2021 free company class, and one of many 5 greatest man protection cornerbacks within the NFL. Former Bengals defender William Jackson turns into the Soccer Group’s latest cornerback, and he could possibly be the one man to take Washington’s protection from No. 2 to No. 1. Per Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, Washington nabs Jackson on a three-year, $42 million take care of $26 million assured. That’s CB2 cash for a CB1, which is pretty much as good because it will get.
Final season in a Bengals protection that helped no one from a schematic standpoint, Jackson allowed 36 receptions on 69 targets for 537 yards, 169 yards after the catch, three touchdowns, one interception, and an opponent passer ranking of 86.4. However when Jackson is utilized in ways in which greatest present his ability set, he’s a power to be reckoned with.
Last May, I ranked Jackson because the NFL’s ninth-best cornerback in man protection, and right here’s what I wrote about him again then:
Not a lot went proper for Cincinnati’s bottom-feeding protection in 2019, however Jackson was a uncommon standout in a constructive sense. Although he struggled with accidents within the second half of the season, An excellent boundary cornerback who was negatively affected at occasions by some perplexing security “assist” appears, Jackson appeared extra comfy when he may simply erase his goal on his personal. Final season, Jackson did permit one landing in man protection (which the Bengals used on simply 33% of their snaps), however apart from that, he gave up simply 10 catches on 28 targets for 159 yards, and a Constructive Play Price of 32.1% — good for fourth-best within the league.
Properly, no less than Jackson was stalwart on this regard in 2020, although Cincinnati’s protection was nonetheless an entire lot of unhappy trombone, because it has usually been underneath defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo. Except you imagine that going from twenty ninth in go protection DVOA in 2019 to twenty seventh in 2020 is a Nice Huge Factor, which I don’t.
In any occasion, Jackson was focused 40 occasions in 227 man protection snaps in 2020, permitting simply 15 receptions for 187 yards, and a Constructive Play Price of 32.5%, which ranked fourth amongst cornerbacks with no less than 25 targets in man protection. Constant? Admirably so at a place the place you’ll be able to shortly end up on the darkish facet fairly shortly. Jackson can be a fairly respectable zone cornerback — he allowed 16 completions on 27 targets for 292 yards, two touchdowns, one interception, and a Constructive Play Price of 44.4%.
Jackson isn’t actually a “bail-and-trail” boundary cornerback within the conventional sense — he’s extra the man you need pressed up in opposition to his receiver and following the route all the best way although. A lot better in man and match than spot-drop zone. Should you play him off-coverage, you’ll be able to wind up with issues like this 50-yard completion from Deshaun Watson to Brandin Cooks in opposition to the Texans in Week 16.
(No, I’m not fairly certain what the security to Jackson’s facet was doing right here, both).
Right here, from the identical recreation, is the way you need Jackson to function: Matching receiver Chad Hansen step-for-step from the beginning of the route, and almost developing with the decide as he breaks off to the ball.
It’s not straightforward to seek out nice man cornerbacks, and much more tough to seek out man cornerbacks who’ve Jackson’s consistency from 12 months to 12 months. He will likely be extremely paid for that motive alone, and don’t be stunned if the Soccer Group — who performed man protection on simply 24% of their defensive snaps final season, however allowed an EPA per play of -0.26, third-best within the league — doesn’t avail itself of extra Cowl-0, Cowl-1, and 2-Man within the 2021 season and past.