Player Profile: Quentin Jammer
Early in his career, in 2004, the NFL began to change the rules to heavily favor the offense. Defensive players were now forbidden to touch receivers 5 yards past the line of scrimmage. Understandably, Q was not happy with the rule changes, complaining that the NFL was becoming “track with pads.” However, he did try to change his style of play to conform to the new rules. It wasn’t working, and he continued to garner pass interference calls. Early in the 2005 season, he had enough, and said in an interview that as a physical corner, trying to finesse the position was simply not his style. “I’m physical. I only know one way to play.” He went back to playing his physical style, continued to attract numerous pass interference calls, and with them, the ire of the San Diego media and fans.
In August of 2006, Q signed a 5-year contract extension, taking him through the 2012 season. A.J. Smith called him “a major part of our defense,” and “a true pro.” Q had career highs with 19 passes defended and 72 tackles, 3rd-best among the Chargers. Despite those numbers, at the time, the Union Trib wrote that Q was “widely considered by Chargers fans to be among the team’s weak links.”
Q would later say of his 2006 season, “I think with a couple pass interference calls, I panicked… [Now] I feel like a more confident player. The more mature I get as a player, the more confidence I get.” The fact that 2006 had been his best year yet pointed out his drive to be the best and to push for excellence. In 2006 he led the team in interceptions (4) and had a career-high 78 tackles.
In 2007, while Q’s personal numbers were down a bit (1 INT, 61 tackles), the Chargers’ excellent play took them to the AFC Championship Game against the New England Patriots. Although the Chargers would go on to lose the game, Q played brilliantly, limiting Randy Moss to 1 reception for 12 yards. In the first quarter, with 5:13 left, Tom Brady threw his first-ever first quarter playoff interception on a pass intended for Donte Stallworth. Q jumped high in the air and fell to the ground with the ball in his hands. “Did the ball come out at the end?” exclaimed announcer Jim Nance, but then Jammer leaped to his feet with the ball in his hands and the Charger team on the sidelines swarmed him in celebration. After the game Brady said, “Jammer jumped – I don’t know what that guy’s vertical is – but he got up there on that one. He made a great play.” Brady’s second interception by Drayton Florence was due largely in part to Jammer’s pursuit of Stallworth who, while was running for his life, deflected the ball to Florence. Q made another great play on 3rd & 3 with 7:24 on the clock in the 2nd quarter. Jammer broke up the pass, textbook style with his left hand behind the receiver’s back while batting down the ball with his right. In pure exhilaration, Jammer lunged forward on one knee, and waved his arms signaling IN-COM-PLETE.
In the 2008 season, Jammer continued to elevate his play with 2 INTs and 88 tackles, the most of his career. In the Miracle 8-8 2008 season, Q’s most memorable game was on October 12, 2008, when he again lined up against Randy Moss and the New England Patriots, now being helmed by backup QB, Matt Cassel. It was the Chargers hosting Sunday Night Football, the year of the Ed Hochuli call, and Charger fans at Qualcomm were fired up. In what some Charger fans call the infamous Boo Bowl, Q broke up one rainbow pass from Brady to Moss after another. In the first half, a long pass from Brady to Moss, which looked like a sure touchdown, was ruled a bobbled catch as Q got his right hand in Moss’ face and broke up the play in the end zone. Early in the second half, Q had held Moss to one catch for 6 yards, and 2 defensed passes. Jammer was playing in unstoppable beast mode now. With 7 minutes left in the third quarter, on 1st & 10, Cassel threw off his back foot to Welker in the slot. Q saw the play coming the whole way, and when the pass was too high for Welker, Q was there to intercept it. In the 4th quarter, Jammer jumped Moss on his route and caught the ball for what looked like an interception. Referee Bill Levy, however, ruled the pass incomplete as Jammer did not retain possession all the way to the ground. The fans at Qualcomm didn’t like that call. Even though the Chargers had the game well in hand 30-3, the crowd, who had been vocal all night, let out a deafening torrent of boos that lasted for several minutes, limiting the referee’s ability to even reset the game clock. Al Michaels exclaimed to John Madden, “It’s a two minute boo! If you’re just tuning in, they’re leading by 27!”
Later in the 2008 season, when every game was a playoff game for the Chargers who were fighting back from a 4-8 record, the Chargers traveled to Tampa Bay in Week 16 and delivered a beat-down to the Bucs. In that game, Q threw a hit so hard to QB Jeff Garcia that Charger fans felt from their couches. Garcia left the game with blood streaming down his face, delivered the post-game presser with a huge bandage on his nose, and basically hasn’t been heard of since.
2008 was also the first year for Chargers’ rookie corner, Antoine Cason and Jammer has been happy to mentor him along. Q now says, “He’s a good player. I credit myself with him being the type of player he is. I credit myself for being the old man back there.”
Despite the young Cason being added to the roster, Q’s stats went up in 2009 with 3 INTs, and 58 tackles. Also in 2009, Q was voted one of the 50 Greatest Chargers of all time. When asked about the honor, he said, “That was awesome. The first couple years here the fans were hard on me. To actually turn around their opinions by becoming a player they respect and like, and to be voted on the list was huge for me.”
Jammer shows no signs of slowing down, or becoming complacent. In last week’s game against the Titans, in the first quarter with 29 seconds left, the Titans were marching downfield. On 3rd & 2 from the 3 yard line, Vince Young dropped back and threw to Damien Williams in the end zone. But the play was broken up by #23 as the announcer shouted, “And Quentin Jammer living up to his last name! That’s an all-pro play by Quentin Jammer.”
Even though during the game the Chargers faced a season-high 36 passes, and forced the Titans to a 50 percent completion rate (the lowest allowed by San Diego since week 1), Jammer was unhappy with his play. “What bothered me the most was the way I played,” said Jammer, who allowed a year-high four catches for 72 yards. “That’s not like me. Nine years in the league I’ve never spaced out like that … it won’t ever happen again.”
This past Sunday at Houston against the Texans, Jammer had 7 tackles in the 29-23 Chargers victory, and held Andre Johnson to 4 receptions for 41 yards. Johnson praised Jammer afterwards, stating, “He doesn’t get enough attention. He’s one of the top guys in the NFL. He physical, patient, he makes you work for every yard.” After Jammer’s two pass interference penalties, the T.V. camera caught him sitting on the bench while several of his teammates slapped him on the back, or patted his shoulders in approval of his physical play. And for the second straight week, the Chargers defense allowed only 3 points in the second half.
Quentin Jammer doesn’t point fingers. He doesn’t take credit. He views the entire defense as a team, a squad of 11 men who become one unit when they take the field. After the heartbreaking loss to the Raiders in Week 5, Tony Dungy stated on national television that Norv Turner should take responsibility for the Chargers’ poor play. But Q disagreed saying, “Norv prepared us. We were very prepared. We dominated that game except for blocked punts. We’re not perfect. We don’t point fingers. We move on.” When everyone wanted to blame the Chargers’ woes on special teams, Jammer wouldn’t play that game. “It’s not just the special teams. The offense had a chance to make plays, and the defense had a chance to create fumbles.” In Jammer’s eyes, the Chargers win as a team, and they lose as a team.
Jammer is also the type of player the front office loves to see. When his fellow teammate, Shawne Merriman, was waived by the team, Jammer stated he was surprised at the decision, but said that the “front office doesn’t have to explain anything to us. We mind our business and they make the decisions up there.” In his personal life, Jammer is a positive influence on San Diego communities. In June 2007, he and his wife Alicia founded The Jammer Family Foundation, which focuses on empowering disadvantaged youth of San Diego who have limited resources to develop their educational and professional goals. Jammer also holds his faith dear. When asked why he chose the number 23, he responded, “My favorite Bible verse is Psalm 23 [The Lord’s Prayer]. …The first thing that came to my mind was Psalm 23.
And just how good is Quentin Jammer at the cornerback position? He has started all but two games for San Diego since 2003. In his nine-year career (2010 being his ninth year), he has made 17 career interceptions, an astounding 576 tackles and has defensed 112 passes. Stacked up against the stats of the first nine years of two of the greatest cornerbacks of all time, Deion Sanders (1989-97, 151 tackles, 36 INTs) and Rod Woodson (1987-95, 154 tackles, 32 INTs), two things become clear. The first is, Jammer has half the interceptions, but Woodson and Sanders never had to contend with the NFL rule changes which so stringently hamper the defender’s ability to defend the pass. Secondly, Jammer has almost four times the number of tackles. When Jammer says he plays a physical game, he means it. Even when compared to the current star cornerback NFL darling, New York Jets’ Darrelle Revis, who in his first 4 years has 209 tackles and 14 INTs, Jammer’s stats hold up with the best of the best.
It is therefore, astonishing, that Jammer has never once been voted to the Pro Bowl. “It was frustrating when I was younger but as you get older Pro Bowls don’t really matter. I just want to win a Super Bowl before I get out of here, and that’s more important than anything football wise to me,” he reasoned in his sweet Texas accent. Charger fans would like nothing more.