3 Commanders role players who could make or break 2022 season
By Jerry Trotta
2. William Jackson III
If you were to grade the performance of the Commanders’ secondary last season, only negative words would come to mind. While the group collectively turned a corner over the second half of the schedule, it’s rancid showing over the first two months put the team in a hole that was too deep to climb out of.
Yes, other factors contributed to Washington’s slow start, but the secondary’s inability to stop a nosebleed was chief among them.
Though the entire unit was to blame, free-agent pickup William Jackson III, who thrived in press man coverage with the Bengals before his big-money move to DC, really struggled adapting to Jack Del Rio’s zone-oriented scheme.
Jackson’s five pass interference penalties tied for the second most amongst cornerbacks and he posted a 52.5 coverage grade from PFF over his first six games. He missed the final five games, but really hit his stride coming out of the bye week, tallying an elite 70.4 coverage grade from Weeks 10-15.
Jackson’s early-season struggles in 2021 can be attributed to the growing pains of learning a new system and how to play with new teammates. Assuming those are behind him, he has the potential to be a real difference-maker for the defense. After all, he didn’t receive a $40.5 million contract in free agency by accident.