3. IN A TIGHT SPOT
When Packers defensive coordinator Mike Pettine extolled the virtues of rookie cornerbacks Jaire Alexander and Josh Jackson at midweek, among the things he was most pleased with was Jackson’s ability to neutralize tight ends. At 6-feet and 196-pounds, Jackson has shown the physical strength to match up with tight ends – a longtime problem for previous coordinator Dom Capers’ defenses – and combine his size and ball skills to make such matchups less of a problem for the Packers.
Jackson won’t have to handle Redskins tight end Jordan Reed all by himself, but he figures to draw that assignment frequently in this game. And Reed, who enters with 10 receptions for 103 yards and a touchdown but had a big game (nine receptions, 120 yards, one touchdown) in the teams’ 2015 NFC Wild Card playoff game will be a challenge.
“It’s helpful (that Jackson can do that), because I laugh at some of the tight ends that they’ve listed as tight ends. I say (they’re a) tight end on flip card only. They’re essentially just big wide receivers,” Pettine said. “I always want to match skill, and that’s what a lot of these teams are looking for when the majority of the time that tight end’s off the ball or they’re getting him out in space as opposed to the traditional down tight end that you have to treat him as such.
“We’re fortunate to have a hybrid type defensive back like Josh that has corner coverage ability but is physical enough that he can handle being closer to the action and handle covering tight end.”
Jason Wilde covers the Packers for ESPN Wisconsin. Listen to him with former Packers and Badgers offensive lineman Mark Tauscher weekdays from 9-11 on “Wilde & Tausch” on 100.5 FM ESPN Madison.