Swiftly moving on, Jaire Alexander was ‘locked in all game’

CB Jaire Alexander

GREEN BAY – Jaire Alexander is done talking about the Dallas game.

The Packers’ second-year cornerback put the lowlight of his brief career behind him long before Monday night’s bounce-back performance, and he sees no reason to ever bring it up again.

“I’m past that,” Alexander said on Thursday, explaining very succinctly how he moved on.

“To be honest, I watched the film, criticized myself, analyzed what I could have done better, and threw it in the back of my mind and didn’t even think about it anymore.”

The old adage of cornerbacks needing a short memory doesn’t just apply from snap to snap in a game, it also applies week to week in a long season. Alexander has epitomized that in the Packers’ last two games.

The Cowboys’ Amari Cooper racked up 11 catches for 226 yards and a touchdown two weeks ago, most of the damage coming against Alexander.

Then on Monday, Detroit’s Marvin Jones Jr. faced a steely determined foe and hardly saw the ball. Jones made two catches for 17 yards, and the only time he even had a chance for a significant play, Alexander wasn’t in coverage. Safety Will Redmond  was, and broke up the sideline pass.

As old NFL adages go, there’s another one Alexander adhered to very effectively – don’t let one game beat you twice.

“I’m going to put it like this: Last week was a lot of focus,” Alexander said. “I didn’t think I was as focused in the game as I should have been, in the Cowboys game. I spent a lot of time practicing how I’m going to play, and it transferred over to the game.

“I was focused all game. I was locked in. If I want to be a lock-down corner, I have to be locked in all game. I have to have that mentality the whole game instead of certain plays. I have to have good eyes the whole game, instead of taking plays off when I’m tired. That’s really what it was.”

The mentality is to never relax, and by his eyes, Alexander is referring to his reactions to play fakes and double moves. His name was hardly called Monday night because Detroit QB Matthew Stafford didn’t really challenge him.

It probably would have been more fun to have some throws his direction – Alexander would love to boost his career total of two interceptions, one of which came in Dallas on a throw that glanced off Cooper’s shoulder – but the most important thing is he was ready when an important pass did come his way.

“That’s a tough position, especially when you’re playing as much man-to-man coverage as we tend to play,” Head Coach Matt LaFleur said. “I thought he did a great job, and it was kind of highlighted on that last third down Detroit had.”

With seven minutes left in the fourth quarter, the Packers down by two, and the Lions facing third-and-6, Stafford tried to fit a tight throw in to Jones on a crossing route, right at the first-down marker.

It appeared Jones had it initially, but by the time both players tumbled to the ground, Alexander had worked the ball free. Incomplete, his team-leading 12th pass breakup on the season. The Lions punted and never got the ball back as the Packers drove for a walk-off field goal.

“I just think that speaks to the competitor he is and the player he is,” LaFleur said. “I can’t tell you how much fun he is to be around, just his demeanor on a day-to-day basis.”

Everyone knows how Alexander carries himself. He has a self-assuredness that doesn’t waver, and a competitive streak that’s tough to match. It showed up on the first play of the Detroit game, too, when he turned and broke into a full sprint as Stafford threw a deep ball off a flea-flicker to Kenny Golladay.

Golladay wasn’t Alexander’s responsibility, but he chased him down at the end of the 66-yard reception at the Green Bay 11-yard line, and the Lions eventually settled for a field goal.

“That is what I would consider a game-altering, potential game-winning play – him making a tackle like that,” quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. “He’s done that multiple times over his two years. You can’t coach that stuff, you really can’t.

“You can harp on it but you either have that ability and that effort and that will or you don’t. I give him a lot of credit for the way he plays, and I think his leadership has been fantastic, as well.”

That leadership ability manifested itself in how he went about last week, not just in his desire to rebound but in his belief he most certainly would. His teammates noticed, not that they had any doubts, either.

“He’s competitive. That’s the thing you love about him and you love that he’s your guy,” Rodgers said. “A lot of times, there can be some front-runner attitude. When it’s going great, it’s going incredible. When it’s tough, you might struggle confidence-wise. I don’t think he’s ever struggled a day in his life in confidence. That’s exactly what you want in a DB.”

There was certainly no crisis of confidence. That’s another issue not worth talking about.

“No, no, no. For sure. I’ve never had a problem with confidence,” Alexander said. “Shoot, I’m fine. I took that experience as a learning experience. I feel great. I’m going to continue locking it down.

“Sometimes people are going to make plays, but that’s part of the game. I’ll keep working on my craft, and most importantly, we’re winning.”

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