Don't Take Jaire Alexander For Granted

When an NFL player, or any professional athlete for that matter, performs at an elite or near-elite level season after season, it is easy not to stop the smell the roses and appreciate the player’s high-caliber play. That sentiment can apply to a whole host of NFL players, but for the purposes of this article, that sentiment applies to Green Bay Packers cornerback Jaire Alexander. 

The team’s 2018 first-round selection, Alexander proved yet again why he is one of the best corners in the league in 2022. He finished the year with 14 pass deflections and recorded career highs in interceptions (5), tackles for loss (4), passer rating allowed (66.4), and average depth of target (9.0), earning second-team All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors for the second time in his five-year career. His passer rating allowed ranked fourth among all qualifying defenders, according to NFL.com, while he tied for 5th in interceptions and tied for 12th in pass deflections. 

Prior to the end of the 2022 season, ESPN.com’s Matt Bowen identified the Louisville product as the best zone cornerback in the NFL “due to his backfield vision and ball skills. Alexander will disrupt throwing lanes, overlap second-level throws and match with vertical routes down the field … and per NFL Next Gen Stats, opponents have minus-10.6 expected points added when targeting him in zone looks.” 

He was not too shabby in man coverage last season, either, only allowing an average separation of 2.6 yards. Since entering the league in 2018, his tight-window rate (less than one yard of separation when the ball arrives) of 33.3% is second in the NFL, and he led the league in tight-window rate (42.3%) in 2020 among defenders that were targeted at least 50 times. 

Moreover, according to Next Gen Stats, his ballhawk rate of 24% in man coverage ranked 11th in 2022 among all eligible defenders. Alexander was targeted 79 times last season, a high number no doubt, but it was to the quarterback’s detriment as his targeted Expected Points Added (EPA) of -19.9 ranked sixth among all eligible defenders, according to Next Gen Stats

Alexander is not a perfect cornerback by any means – for example, he did get burned by the Chicago Bears “bum” wide receiver, Equanimeous St. Brown, during the team’s 2022 matchup at Soldier Field – but he is a damn good one. You could even call him great or elite. Don’t take that kind of play for granted because it doesn’t come around very often. 

__________________________

Rex is a lifelong Packers fan but was sick of the cold, so he moved to the heart of Cowboys country. Follow him on Twitter (@Sheild92) and Instagram (@rex.sheild). 

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7 points
 

Comments (8)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
PatrickGB's picture

June 16, 2023 at 12:43 pm

He is an introvert who turns on his extrovert self at key moments. I can relate to that because that’s who I am. But with that comes a need for downtime and silence. One thing for sure is that he studies film and is knowledgeable of his playbook. And he seems to be a fun guy to be around.

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Guam's picture

June 16, 2023 at 03:48 pm

I don't worry about Jaire Alexander, but I do worry about the defensive schemes Joe Barry puts him in. With a CB of Alexander's skills, you don't play him 7-8 yards off when it is 3rd and 3. Alexander can be a shut down corner (remember what he did to Jefferson in the second Viking game last year) against the very best. Is it too much to ask to use him like one?

12 points
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Packer_Fan's picture

June 16, 2023 at 04:08 pm

Absolutely. We should be using Alexander to shut down the other team's best receiver. Put him on an island to make the defense better.

The article this morning mentioned that Lafleur needs to prove he is a good coach. For me, step one to exert his dominance

7 points
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Dagger's picture

June 16, 2023 at 10:23 pm

Jaire Alexander is a baller. He wants the best WR on the other team and plays with such confidence. Joe Barry is fortunate Jaire is there to cover his deficiencies.

3 points
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PewAuKeeFan's picture

June 17, 2023 at 10:11 am

"Said he likes to be here when others aren’t and is fine missing out on his $700K workout bonus."

I watched that interview. Jaire definitely was NOT fine with missing out on his workout bonus. However, he indicated that other things were more important to him than that $700K bonus.

He has his priorities right, so that is fine with me.

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Oppy's picture

June 17, 2023 at 03:31 pm

There's always a lot of chatter from fans along the lines of the "the top cornerback should always be lined up to cover the opponents best WR" - and anything other than that approach is somehow a waste of talent.

This is such a gross oversimplification. Everything depends on the matchups across the board.

If your opponent has a very deep WR corp featuring one elite receiver- a WR who is likely going to "get his catches" because he's so good even the best DBs are, at best, going to win some, lose some in single coverage.. and your defensive backs have an average pool of talent with one elite DB- and you place your top DB on the opponents' top WR- you may frustrate or even shut down that #1 WR, but the rest of the matchups across the field are at an advantage to the offense, because of the talent differential between #2 WR vs. #2 DB, #3 WR vs #3 DB, etc and so forth.

Sometimes in these scenarios you are better off putting a lesser DB against the elite WR and committing safety help to bracket that target to limit the #1 WR. This allows you to place your elite DB on the opponents #2 threat, and result in a total shut down of that #2 WR, while also allowing your #2 DB to now cover the opponents' #3 WR, etc and so forth... so instead of trying to shut down 1WR with your 1DB, but being vulnerable at the rest of your matchups, you have now limited the #1WR and increased the likelyhood of shutting down all other receiving targets across the field.

Yeah, this example is also an oversimplification, but it illustrates an example of valid strategy for not just blindly trotting your #1 DB out on the field over the opponents #1 WR. Its checkers vs chess.

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vin0770's picture

June 18, 2023 at 03:56 pm

But do you think they have a chess master or a checkers wannabe? This entire coaching staff has the microscope on them this year that they have rightly earned! I hope my “my told you so” opinion on them is totally bad a$$ wrong because I don’t want to see the Pack suck. But I am not optimistic at all 😢

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lucky953's picture

June 18, 2023 at 08:34 am

My favorite Packer player now. I love his playfulness and swag. He puts fun back in football for me, and the man can ball.

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