Jaire Alexander Ready to Take His Game to the Next Level for Packers

Packers cornerback Jaire Alexander has been a starter since his first NFL game and he’s always been a good player, but this year, the third-year pro out of Louisville is looking to take his game to another level.

When asked during an offseason press conference if he considered himself an “elite” player, Alexander was quick to say that he did.

But while he has been the Packers best cornerback the last two seasons, Alexander has been lacking one important part of his game if he wants to be considered elite: big plays.

In his first two seasons combined, Alexander intercepted a total of three passes, one in his rookie season and two in 2019. He recorded one half a sack and a total of five tackles for loss in his first two campaigns.

Last year alone, he dropped four potential interceptions and that is arguably the biggest thing keeping him from being considered an elite corner in this league heading into this season.

Well, in Week 1 against the Vikings, Alexander came up with two big plays that helped turn the game in the Packers favor. With Green Bay trailing 7-3 early in the second quarter, Alexander sacked quarterback Kirk Cousins in the end zone for a safety to make the score 7-5.

Then, in the final minute of the half with the Packers leading 15-7, Alexander picked off a pass by Cousins which set up a 45-yard touchdown pass from Aaron Rodgers to Marquez Valdes-Scantling with 21 seconds left before halftime that gave the Packers a 22-7 advantage. Both these big plays were turning points in the game that directly led to Green Bay’s victory.

Ironically, on the safety, Alexander was expecting a run to Dalvin Cook. “Once I anticipated run, I shot my shot. I slid to the DMs, basically,” Alexander said after the game. “And when I saw it wasn't a run, it was too late to turn back, so I just kept going.”

Even though Alexander guessed wrong on the play, he used his speed and was decisive enough to still make a big play. He recalled what defensive coordinator Mike Pettine said to him when he reached the sideline. “I'm not really going to say what he said verbatim, but he called me ‘sneaky’ and he gave me a fist bump,” Alexander said. “So, you know, it was all smiles.”

The smiles continued after his big interception. “Turnovers are always big plays,” Alexander explained. “It gives our offense an opportunity to score and put points on the board. So, it was real, uh, real fun. It's pretty much expected at this point.”

The expectations are clearly there for Alexander. Head coach Matt LaFleur had this to say about his number one cornerback early in training camp. “There’s so much to like about Ja,” LaFleur told reporters. “First of all, I love being around him. I’ve told him a million times, he’s got such an infectious energy for everybody—not only the guys on defense, but I think our entire team. I love how he competes on a daily basis, and I think he’s a premier corner in this league.”

Alexander has the qualities that an elite cornerback needs in the NFL. He has good speed, believes in himself and never lets a bad play get him down. Alexander can quickly forget when he gives up a big play without losing his self-confidence.

“It’s just that unwavering belief I have in myself,” Alexander said during training camp. “I think I’ve built this kind of comfortability within the system, within the defense, which is allowing me to play faster than before. I feel like this is the most confident I’ve been in my technique and in my game. I’m just ready to embark on this year three.”

Alexander feels he was playing his best football late in 2019 and that he can take things to another level this year. “I think through those last couple games, especially in the playoffs, my defense, and my coverage was the best it’s been all year,” Alexander said. “I like that I was able to turn that focus over when the games really mattered and really lock in on my coverage and just proving that I am elite in this league. So, I think that was the biggest takeaway, that I can do those things and when I lock in and when I master my craft the sky is the limit.”

The game is clearly slowing down for Alexander and that is allowing him to be in position to make more big plays. If he continues to play like he did in Week 1, there is no reason he can’t make the Pro Bowl for the first time after the 2020 season and help the Packers return to the playoffs.

You can follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers

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Comments (15)

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PatrickGB's picture

September 19, 2020 at 01:00 pm

Hopefully his hand is ok!

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GilMartin's picture

September 24, 2020 at 03:56 pm

Yeah, I think it's a nagging kind of injury. Hope he's OK, too. Thanks for commenting, PatrickGB.

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arizonayahoo07@gmail.com's picture

September 19, 2020 at 02:09 pm

Yabadooo! This defense is going to be awesome. I look forward to seeing all the units playing great. This is great that Kenny Clark can recover from the groin injury.. And all the guys can inspire each other..

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GilMartin's picture

September 24, 2020 at 03:57 pm

Looked darn good for 3 quarters against Detroit. Tougher test coming this Sunday night. Thanks for the comment, [email protected].

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Lphill's picture

September 19, 2020 at 03:18 pm

He is very good , not great or elite but if he plays consistent then yes he can be !

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GilMartin's picture

September 24, 2020 at 03:57 pm

Agreed. I think he's taken a step forward early this year. Hope he can continue along that road to greatness.

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ImaPayne's picture

September 19, 2020 at 05:44 pm

Ya he let a tight end eat him alive. Often running right by him. It's like he is playing for the short throw to intercept and not the man. You never ley a guy run by you unless you lack speed?

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GilMartin's picture

September 24, 2020 at 03:58 pm

I don't think a lack of speed is an issue for Jaire. he does get beat ocassionally, but I love how he doesn't let it bother him and he bounces back quickly. Thanks for the comment, ImaPayne.

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CoachDino's picture

September 19, 2020 at 06:43 pm

Your right as usual, he catches those interception opportunities he becomes an elite CB. Hopefully he isn't just living up to the old cliche as to why WR become DBs.

Most Elite CB still get beat here and there but I'm hopeful he becomes a bit more consistent, he gets caught peeking/anticipating/etc a bit much.

Hey we all love the result of his sack/safety but if Cousins sees it and throws to whomever he was supposed to be covering we all aren't speaking to what a great play that was.

Here's a question? Do we use a #1 pick on a outside Coverage CB in 2021? Does anyone see a starting outside CB on the packers 53 or PS? I am clueless as to how good Ento and Kadar are.

On a separate note:
Gil - If its in the cards - a write up on 2021 and the FA vs Cap Space. How they keep Bahk/Jones/King/Lindsey with the cap space they have and the 2021 Cap leveling is VERY SCARY. BAhk/Jones/Linsey are all top level guys and if king is an avg Starting CB he is still going to demand a big raise. Being the nerd that I am I played around on Sportrac for GB 2021 and its scary. Then did some simulated drafts. There are OT/CB and IDL guys out there but replacing studs with unproven Draft picks is a recipe for disaster as far as the probabilities of success.

Couple things:
ARod needs to restructure (needs? he doesn't need to do anything, the Team "needs" I should say)
Contracts will be back end -which just makes for another dilemma..

there's no real CUT savings
Burks? not much - Turner/Lowery still not much compared to what Bahk is going to get paid. Linsey/King/Adams/Jones aren't even counted against the 2021 cap yet and things are tight, so losing those guys doesn't really free up space.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

September 20, 2020 at 02:13 am

As a note, the standard NFL contract allows teams to convert base salary to a signing bonus without the need to gain the player's consent.

There was very little about Ento in the media observations/tweets and only one that I recall about Hollman and that was that Davante easily dominated him. Of course, Davante is really good but there were a ton of tweets about noting how fun it was to watch the battles between Davante and Jaire and King.

Gil's take would be interesting. The short answer is that if GB wants to keep some of the FAs the team is going to have to accept a ton of risk by backloading their contracts and probably restructuring Adams, Smith x 2, and a few more.

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GilMartin's picture

September 24, 2020 at 04:23 pm

It will be challenging but I'm sure they'll figure out something. Maybe backloading some deals and reworking A-Rod's deal again to free up some space. Gute will have to get creative. Thanks for the comment, thegreatreynoldo. Sorry it took so long to respond, dealing with some serious family health issues here.

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GilMartin's picture

September 24, 2020 at 04:01 pm

Hey CoachDino. Thanks as always for commenting. I will try to get to an article on the cap situation and FA coming for next year. Sorry it took so long to respond but my mom's health is very bad and I've been helping her and my dad out this past week. I will do my best to answer when I can but it's a little rough here right now.
The cap is definitely going to be an issue next year but I think many teams will feel the squeeze because of the lack of fans in the stands reducing revenues. Will take some creativity and I doubt the team can keep everybody they want to.

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Stroh's picture

September 19, 2020 at 09:34 pm

Jaire is on the vege of big things. More consistency and better hands is all he's lacking. This year or next for sure. He's already among the best in coverage. This year the awareness and ball skills will push him up the ladder. Not many can cover like him. Just get a little more dialed in.

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GilMartin's picture

September 24, 2020 at 04:02 pm

He's getting closer and closer to elite. Been great watching him develop and mature. Thanks as always for the comment, Stroh.

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stephenhawking11's picture

September 20, 2020 at 05:56 am

Hi, I watched this video this is a great training camp I am an author athttps://www.essaycorp.co.uk/nursing-essay-help/ working for students assignment writing help

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