Lions’ Jerry Jacobs gets revenge, words of encouragement from reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers

Detroit News

Detroit — Jerry Jacobs couldn’t wait to face Aaron Rodgers.

The Detroit Lions cornerback, who only recently returned from a lengthy layoff after tearing his ACL last December, recalled during a locker room conversation earlier this week his first defensive snap as a rookie last season.

Coming off the bench to give a breather to the starter during a Week 2 Monday night game in Green Bay, the Packers quarterback immediately sniffed out the fresh, unproven defender and tested him deep, drawing a 25-yard pass interference penalty. And despite Jacobs bouncing back to earn a starting job a few weeks later, that moment remained burned in his mind.

Knowing he was going to be worked into the defensive rotation for the first time this season, and fresh off a practice where he picked off Rodgers’ longtime backup Tim Boyle twice, Jacobs wasn’t interested in just being on the field on Sunday. He wanted to be tested by a man he considers one of the greatest to ever play the quarterback position.

And in Detroit’s 15-9 victory over the Packers, Jacobs was able to prove himself, including being in coverage on two of Rodgers’ final four incompletions that sealed the win for the Lions.

“What did I tell you?” Jacobs beamed, shouting across the room, even before reporters had reached his locker.

Jacobs is supremely confident but stops short of being braggadocios. His over-the-top enthusiasm earned him the affectionate nickname “Crazy Jerry” from his teammates last year. But that energy is part of what the Lions needed to break out of their defensive malaise.

Jacobs is so brazenly confident, he approached Rodgers as the two walked to the tunnel at halftime, a moment captured by broadcast. He told the quarterback playfully, “Stop trying me,” knowing full well Rodgers would keep coming at him. And the quarterback and reigning MVP responded kindly, “But you’re doing good. Just keep going.”

Rodgers did keep trying Jacobs, even drawing a pass interference penalty in the fourth quarter that set the Packers up in the red zone. But three plays later, the young corner broke up a third-down pass, forcing Green Bay to settle for a field goal.

And Rodgers tried twice more on the final series, complaining when Jacobs’ physical coverage didn’t draw another flag. After the final pass, a failed fourth down, Jacobs sprinted down the field in celebration, a cathartic release after his long road back paired with this small bit of personal redemption.

“I’m blessed,” Jacobs said. “I thank God I’m able to be back on that field to celebrate, to do things like that with my team.”

Defense holds players-only meeting

After a tumultuous week that included the firing of defensive backs coach Aubrey Pleasant, Jacobs revealed the defense held a player-led meeting on Thursday to get the season on track.

“It was just about getting back, getting tight,” Jacobs said. “We felt like we were losing each other and we just all wanted to be back on the same page. We discussed how can we make our defense better? It was nothing bad about nothing. We were just trying to bring our defense tighter so we can be one on the field.”

Jacobs declined to say who called the meeting, only saying it was a veteran and it was well-received. Captain Alex Anzalone, who likely played some role in the powwow, said it was important to emphasize the need to get things fixed, particularly following Pleasant’s dismissal.

“There’s a sense of urgency and we’ve gotta get our stuff together,” Anzalone said. “Dudes are losing their jobs over what’s being put out on the film. And guys stepped up this week and we’ve just got to continue doing that going forward.

“I feel like it was definitely needed. We had a lot of adversity this week and it was kind of keeping guys accountable to each other. That’s the best way to go out there and perform.”

Jacobs, who developed from an undrafted rookie into a starter under Pleasant’s guidance, dedicated the win to his former coach.

“This week was just (about being) together, do it for him and that’s what we did,” Jacobs said. “This whole week, we had a good practice and it paid off in the game.”

Twitter: @Justin_Rogers

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