Bill Belichick has an issue.
He’s beneath a time crunch.
Where does he flip?
The identical time and place he has because the Patriots dynasty was a pre-teen: his previous.
Last January, after overseeing the worst offense of his tenure, Belichick re-hired Bill O’Brien. Before O’Brien arrived, Belichick changed Josh McDaniels — one other returned offensive coordinator — with retread assistants Matt Patricia and Joe Judge. And years earlier than the offensive teaching carousel started in Foxboro, a number of Prodigal Patriots — from Deion Branch to Patrick Chung, Jamie Collins, LeGarrette Blount and Kyle Van Noy — returned residence.
So when Belichick stared on the cornerback-sized gap in his depth chart Wednesday, his finest course, after all, was to commerce for a well-known face: J.C. Jackson.
Jackson returns to New England 18 months after signing a large free-agent take care of the Chargers, who couldn’t unload him quick sufficient. Los Angeles agreed to pay most of Jackson’s remaining $9.33 million wage for 2023 whereas transport him out Wednesday. That left the Patriots on the hook for only a $1.5 million invoice this season, and no assured wage over the remainder of Jackson’s contract, that means they mainly can reduce him at any time with out price.
Had the Pats not swooped in with a proposal to swap late-round 2025 picks, the Chargers most likely reduce Jackson themselves. He was a strolling catastrophe in Los Angeles, enjoying solely seven video games, snaring one interception and struggling a critical knee damage.
After opposing quarterbacks posted a 149.3 passer score when focusing on him in 2022, Jackson bombed within the Chargers’ first two video games this season. Then he missed the third as a wholesome scratch, and performed zero snaps within the fourth. Jackson’s frustration got here to a head final week, when he vented to an NFL Network reporter about his lack of enjoying time.
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Jackson additionally dropped this bomb in that very same interview: “I’m not 100 percent. I know that the doctors know that. I’m not 100 percent so I’m doing my best. We’re giving the team what they want. I’m doing my best, and I don’t know what they expect me to do.”
The Patriots have to be sure Jackson will return to well being as a result of well being is the explanation he is right here.
The Pats have already misplaced their 4 finest cornerbacks in 4 weeks, together with rookie Christian Gonzalez, who’s now anticipated to overlook the remainder of the season. With Gonzalez sidelined, Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott posted a 142.5 passer score attacking backup corners Myles Bryant and Shaun Wade in single protection final weekend. As unhealthy as Jackson’s been, it is laborious to think about anybody along with his pure protection expertise faring a lot worse.
He would possibly even begin Sunday. Whether Jackson begins in opposition to the Saints or not, the Patriots cannot afford to permit a repeat of Prescott’s efficiency anytime quickly.
They’re 1-3. Each loss marks one other step nearer to the tip of the plank. Trading for Jackson is as clear as signal as any that Belichick intends to U-turn the season. He’ll want greater than cornerback depth to succeed.
The Pats’ most damning issues all dwell on offense. Jackson cannot treatment the offensive line’s cross safety, a bottom-5 unit by Pro Football Focus and ESPN’s pass-block win fee. Or Rhamondre Stevenson’s sudden allergy to breaking tackles. Or DeVante Parker’s incapacity to separate from man-to-man protection.
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So would possibly the the Pats swing a deal for disgruntled Bears receiver Chase Claypool, whose ability set Belichick as soon as loosely in comparison with Rob Gronkowski’s? Could they quickly choose from the roster carcass of the 0-4 Panthers? Or commerce with McDaniels and the Raiders if Vegas falls to 1-5 in a pair weeks?
If not, will probably be time for O’Brien and new offensive line coach Adrian Klemm — one other ex-Patriot — to shake issues up internally. They have been the headline additions this offseason, two extra pulls from the previous. Jackson is the newest.
Five minutes earlier than Jackson’s return to the Patriots was first reported Wednesday, Belichick answered a query about how accidents can have an effect on the commerce market; an apparent reference to the Pats shedding Gonzalez and star edge rusher Matt Judon.
“I mean, look, to trade at this point, somebody has to be available,” Belichick mentioned in his morning press convention. “So, let’s start with that.”
Well, the Patriots have began. They began with Jackson in a no brainer commerce with just about no draw back as they battle an uphill battle to compete once more. But they want extra. So what is going to Belichick do subsequent?
If historical past is any indication, the entrance workplace’s speedy future lies someplace of their previous.