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Gregg Williams’ decision to send the house and leave Lamar Jackson on an island against Henry Ruggs III will be dissected for days to come.
But Jackson, the Jets undrafted rookie cornerback on the wrong end of Ruggs’ 46-yard touchdown catch Sunday, is taking the blame himself.
“I heard the call, and I gotta execute it,” Jackson said after the Jets’ crushing 31-28 loss. “I didn’t execute it to the best of my ability or how I wanted to. It’s tough, but at the same time, I also know that call is not going to define me or my career.”
On paper, the one-on-one matchup in the defining play of the game featured two rookies. But one was a first-round pick from Alabama, the first wide receiver drafted last April, who is synonymous with game-breaking speed after clocking a 4.27-second time in the 40-yard dash at the NFL combine. The other wasn’t drafted at all, was thrust into action due to injuries in the Jets’ secondary and might be best known for not being that Lamar Jackson.
That made Williams’ decision to leave Jackson alone on Ruggs all the more questionable, but Jackson took accountability for giving up the score. He bit on a double move and could never catch back up as Ruggs had room to catch Derek Carr’s pass at the 3-yard line and step into the end zone.
“There’s a lot of fast guys in this league,” Jackson said. “Y’all know the numbers. He’s fast. I’m not going to take that away from him at all, but I’m also not going to make that excuse for the reason why I gave up a touchdown.”
Jackson, who was making the fifth start of his career, pledged to use the play as a “learning experience.”
“It’s tough. It’s definitely tough,” he said. “I wasn’t looking for help, but I definitely was probably hoping it wasn’t on me. All I could think was, ‘Not me.’ I don’t want to be the reason. But I was. Gotta live with it. Gotta get better.”