The numbers weren’t pretty. But Jim Schwartz’s wasn’t too concerned with the numbers.
Because in his first NFL start, undrafted rookie cornerback Michael Jacquet had the unenviable task of facing one of the top receivers in the NFL, DeAndre Hopkins.
And he at least held his own.
“One thing about him is he is a confident player, and that means a lot at the corner position,” Schwartz said. “He doesn't get down if he gives up a play. He knows what the score is out there, meaning he knows that you don't pitch many shutouts on the outside part of the field. You're going to have to battle, particularly against great players. They're going to win some, you're going to win some.”
On Sunday, Hopkins won more than Jacquet, which was unfortunate for the rookie out of Louisiana. Especially, because he was in good position to make a few plays but he couldn’t steal the ball away from one of the best pairs of hands we’ve ever seen in the NFL.
The final tally for when Jacquet was covering Hopkins: 7 catches on 9 targets for 146 yards and a touchdown. Yeah, we told you the numbers weren’t pretty.
But Jacquet (6-2, 201) showed some good signs even though he wasn’t able to shut down Hopkins. There’s something to build on there and in a secondary with shorter corners, Jacquet size and you can’t coach a guy to be taller.
The exciting thing about Jacquet is that he’s still really raw. He arrived at Louisiana as a wide receiver and didn’t flip to the defensive side of the ball until 2018, playing just two seasons at cornerback.
Last month, Jacquet said the switch came when there was a head coaching change at Louisiana and the new staff thought he had a better future on defense. Jacquet agreed and he’s happy he made that transition.
“I learn something new every day at corner,” Jacquet said. “Talking to these guys every day and talking to these guys every day, I learn something new every day. So I’m definitely gonna learn – I still have things to learn about corner for sure.”
In fact, Jacquet even thinks his background as a receiver helps him on defense. He sees things in receivers that other defensive backs might not.
Despite bringing in Darius Slay this past offseason, the Eagles’ cornerback situation is still up in the air in the future. Avonte Maddox hasn’t quite worked out as a CB2 option and even if Jacquet doesn’t figure in long-term as a starter, he seems like he can at least be a viable depth piece.
In the two games Jacquet has played the most — Dallas and Arizona — he’s done some good things.
“I’ve really been proud of him,” Schwartz said. “Just like a lot of other players, the whole process we've gone through this year has really stunted a lot of players' development. But he's gaining ground. He's improving every day, and I was -- just like you, I was more impressed with the way he bounced back and the way he kept competing and the way he kept challenging as opposed to the plays that he gave up.”