Malcolm Butler is no longer with the New England Patriots, but J.C. Jackson has essentially become the replacement they weren’t intending for.
Malcolm Butler will forever be considered a legend among New England Patriots fans. Though the veteran cornerback only played with the team for four seasons, his game-ending goal line interception in Super Bowl XLIX was enough to etch his name into the annals of Boston sports history.
Along with making the single biggest interception in franchise history — and possibly Super Bowl history — Butler was a popular player among Patriots fans, not just because of his on-field abilities, but because of his confidence and competiveness. As an undrafted free agent, he always played the game with a chip on his shoulder.
Though the Patriots have since parted ways with Butler, they already have their next version of him on their roster in undrafted rookie cornerback J.C. Jackson.
The 23-year-old out of Maryland really emerged onto the scene during the second half of the season, giving New England a very lethal cornerback tandem alongside All-Pro corner Stephon Gilmore. Though many people might not know much about Jackson just yet, seeing as how he wasn’t one of the 256 players that heard his name called at the 2018 NFL Draft, he has more than enough confidence in his own abilities.
The similarities between Jackson and Butler are clear as day.
“I feel like nobody can catch a pass on me,” Jackson said, via NESN.com. “That’s my mindset. Whoever I’ve got to guard, whoever’s in front of me, that’s my job — make sure he doesn’t catch the ball.”
Jackson shined during his rookie season, ultimately becoming a starter in Week 13. Along with Gilmore, he’s been one of the few bright spots for the New England defense this year, as he recorded three interceptions and broke up three passes in 270 coverage snaps (with 201 of those snaps taking place during the season’s final six games).
Unlike Butler, Jackson doesn’t yet have a career-defining moment in the playoffs. But he will make his playoff debut on Sunday when the Patriots host the Los Angeles Chargers in the Divisional Round, and the door of opportunity will be wide open.