Below are three takeaways from J.C Jackson's introductory media availability on Tuesday.
'We're going to L.A.'
When the Chargers' newest cornerback became an unrestricted free agent this offseason, he quickly became one of the top targets for teams across the NFL. Despite several clubs being in the running to sign Jackson, he knew from the very beginning where he wanted to continue his career.
"I was telling my agent, 'We're going to L.A.,'" Jackson said. "I was telling him that from the beginning."
Jackson explained to members of the media on Wednesday that signing with the Bolts was not only the right move for him and his family, it gave him a chance to have a full circle moment by reuniting with Chargers safety and fellow Florida native, Derwin James.
"We go way back," Jackson said of James. "We linked back up at the Pro Bowl. We were talking to each other every day. He was like, 'I'm going to get you up here. You need to come ball with me.' It happened. It's crazy. I'm excited, and I know that he's excited."
Jackson and James were once 7-on-7 teammates in youth football as the two were both born and raised in South Florida. Jackson went on to become a four-star cornerback for the class of 2014 while James became a five-star safety for the class of 2015. The two got the chance to reunite at the 2022 Pro Bowl in Las Vegas, both together on the AFC team, and now get the chance to play together as pros on the Bolts.
"It's crazy how it all comes back around in a circle," Jackson said. "We knew each other back then, and now we get to play with each other? I doesn't get any better than that."
Becoming Mr. INT
When looking at Jackson's skillset, there's no denying his ability to track and intercept the ball. Jackson's league leading 25 interceptions since 2018 (eight during the 2021 season) have earned him the nickname, Mr. INT.
Jackson, who started as both a wide receiver and a cornerback in high school, said he attributes his athleticism and time playing wideout back in the day as two keys to his takeaway production.
"I played receiver in high school, so I just always had the ball in my hands," he said. "I would always throw the ball to myself or have somebody throw me the football. I guess that's how it all started."
Another skillset Jackson brings to the Bolts secondary is his ability to travel with the opposing team's number one wide receiver. Jackson talked about why he's made a point to guard the best receivers in the game on a weekly basis.
"It just puts a bigger chip on my shoulder and elevates my game. That's how I'm able to play the game."
With the AFC West acquiring players like Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson, Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, and the Las Vegas Raiders trading for wide receiver Davante Adams, Jackson talked about where his mindset is at when it comes to defending those players multiple times a year.
"They better be ready for us."
"Never met a coach" like Brandon Staley
When Jackson took a tour of the Bolts' facility he had the chance, officially as a Charger, to meet head coach Brandon Staley. Staley explained that he had watched all of Jackson's games from the last four years and listed off all the notes he had written down when studying his tape.
Jackson said he 'couldn't believe' the list Staley had compiled on him and explained the respect he has for his new head coach.
"I've never met a coach like that before; his energy, his spirit," he said. "He's a player's coach. He just brings that energy to the team…He's a real coach. I respect him for that. I have a lot of respect for Coach Staley."
Jackson now joins a Bolts team with leaders like James, outside linebackers Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack, and young talent like fellow cornerback Asante Samuel Jr., and discussed the potential the defense has heading into the 2022 season.
"I don't know where to start. We have a pretty good team. I'm excited to get around those guys, those great football players. I'm all in. I'm ready to get dialed in. It's going to be a good season to watch."
Jackson explained no matter what, he's always ready to prove himself. As for what he has to prove? It's simple in Jackson's mind.
"That I'm the best. That I'm Mr. INT."
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