For much of the offseason and training camp, William Jackson III spoke about how playing corner for Washington would be different than playing corner for the Cincinnati Bengals, which was the only NFL team he had ever known. Joining the Burgundy and Gold meant Jackson III would line up in a new scheme for new coaches, and he knew it'd be a transition.
When speaking to reporters on Thursday, just ahead of what will be his fifth appearance for Washington, Jackson III was still discussing the need to get comfortable in the secondary. After an encouraging debut where he nabbed an interception, the 28-year-old has been mired in a slump, much like the rest of his peers on that side of the action.
According to him, the feeling-out process is still going on between him and the club.
"I'm adapting pretty well," Jackson III said. "It's a lot of things that I'm not familiar with, that I haven't done. The coaches are doing a great job of trying to get me caught up to speed on how they like things. Every day is a learning curve."
Jackson III's boss, coordinator Jack Del Rio, made a similar statement in his own Thursday press conference.
"We're learning," Del Rio said. "We're constantly learning each other’s strengths, weaknesses. As coaches, we want to do all we can to maximize the exposure that we give to our players and in places where they are strongest. And so we'll continue to work at that."
In Cincinnati, Jackson III was renowned for his work in man coverage, where he could go one-on-one with a receiver and blanket him with his back to the quarterback. With Washington, meanwhile, Jackson III is being asked to do more zone work with some man mixed in, and that adjustment has been cumbersome by the sound of it.
"It's all about learning the technique that they want to do," Jackson III said. "I'm definitely trying to master what they want us to do. I'm pretty sure in more weeks to come we're going to have it down, what they really want."
On zone calls, Jackson III sits back further from his receiver as opposed to crowding the line of scrimmage and getting his hands on his matchup. In those situations where he's not being as physical, he has to rely more on his feet and his eyes.
And even though he did relent on Thursday that he loves jamming wideouts, he understands his responsibilities under Del Rio and hasn't gone out of his way to demand to be used differently.
"I try not to do that," he said. "I don't go to them and say certain things. I'm just trying to execute however they want it."
Aside from that aforementioned pick in Week 1, Jackson III has certainly struggled on the outside — and not just in terms of limiting receptions. He's also been penalized once in each of Washington's first four contests, and though both he and Del Rio believe some of those flags were unwarranted, he's leaving those decisions to the referees and they've been punishing him thus far.
So, clearly, Jackson III's stint with his second organization has begun in sour fashion. He is in no way alone — Washington's entire defense has underdelivered up to this point — but he's a well-paid member of a shaky secondary who hasn't justified his contract yet.
But much like Del Rio, Landon Collins and other defenders, Jackson III is expecting corrections to come soon for all involved.
"We just feel like we're way better than what we're showing," Jackson III said. "I feel like we're going to get this thing rolling pretty soon."