Jackson III Shines Without The Spotlight


Most players walking in on game day will have a pregame ritual like listening to music or even posting on social media.

For Bengals cornerback William Jackson III, the quiet and stadium ambience is all he needs.

"I don't know where that came about, but it's funny that it's the opposite of most guys," Jackson said. "I was listening to music before the games, but now I don't. I like to hear the environment, listen to the stadium noise walking in, taking it all in. It works."

Quiet and steady. That's been a microcosm of Jackson's 2020 season as he's arguably the most consistent cornerback for the Bengals this season.

Jackson has earned an overall Pro Football Focus grade of at least 60 in nine of the 11 games played this season, and his season grade of 71.5 ranks 21st among 123 qualifiers at cornerback.

No receiver has posted a 100-yard game against him and he's already tripled last season's total of passes defended through the first 11 games. Since the bye week, only 39 percent of passes thrown Jackson's way have been completed. Jackson has also not allowed a touchdown pass during that stretch and has recorded six pass deflections.

Jackson pointed to being more comfortable in defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo's scheme as a primary reason for his success.

"Having the same defensive coordinator for the second straight year is big," Jackson said. "I've had a different defensive coordinator my first four years. Just knowing what the coaches want, how to play their technique, you play faster. It's easier to get into the groove, execute the game plan and performing."

The Bengals defense has made measurable strides in the last three weeks. They've allowed the ninth-fewest points in the league and held three straight opponents below 21 points, 100 yards rushing and forced at least one turnover.

What's been more impressive with Jackson is who he's been playing well against. In his latest matchup against Miami, Jackson locked up with the Dolphins No. 1 receiver DeVante Parker, holding him to four receptions for 35 yards.

"I thought he was very competitive," Taylor said. "Obviously DeVante Parker is a tough matchup. He had some DPI (defensive pass interference) penalties there, but he fought his tail off. When you are a No. 1 corner and you are going against a No. 1 receiver, you are going to have your challenges during a game," said Taylor. "I was proud of the way Will competed in that game."

There will be more challenges ahead in the final four weeks, but the advanced statistics say that Jackson and the Bengals secondary can handle just about any challenge.

"I think it is a great challenge to go against those top guys," Jackson said. "When the coaches match you up against the other team's No. 1 guy, that gives me great confidence. I've never been a spotlight guy. I don't speak out or talk trash. I just let my play speak for itself."