Panthers' Donte Jackson says criticism of interim coach was 'totally out of line'

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Carolina Panthers cornerback Donte Jackson on Thursday admitted he was "totally out of line'' for criticizing interim head coach Perry Fewell for two defensive calls that led to touchdowns in Sunday's 40-20 loss to the Atlanta Falcons.

Jackson was the nearest defender when he appeared to leave his coverage on a 15-yard touchdown pass from Matt Ryan to Calvin Ridley in the second quarter. He also was the closest defender on a 93-yard touchdown catch by Olamide Zaccheaus in the third quarter when he was one-on-one with the receiver on a zero blitz call.

Afterward, the second-year player out of LSU said those were "two horrible calls.''

On Thursday, Jackson said he was frustrated by the loss that extended Carolina's losing streak to five straight and that he shouldn't have made those comments.

"Everybody in the locker room is frustrated,'' Jackson said of the Panthers (5-8), who will miss the playoffs for the second straight year and third time in the last four. "The season is not going how we want it to go. But doesn't give me the right to go out there and say anything about anything.

"I was totally out of line. Apologetic to my coaches and we're moving on to Seattle. That's our main objective this week.''

Fewell hopes to be a serious candidate to replace Ron Rivera, who was fired last week after nine seasons as Carolina's head coach.

Fewell was Jackson's position coach prior to his promotion to interim head coach.

"I was very apologetic to my coach,'' Jackson said. "Coach Fewell is a great guy, very understanding. Our conversation was long. It didn't have much to do with that situation. It was about life and how to learn and bounce back.

"That's what makes him a great guy. He knew I was frustrated after the game. He's not going to hold that to my character. That's why we all have a ton of respect for Coach Fewell, the way he carries himself.''

Fewell said earlier in the week that he was "disappointed'' that Jackson aired his criticism publicly and added it would be handled internally.

"Donte is a young player," Fewell said Thursday of Jackson's public apology. "As I said before, we handled it internally. We moved forward.''

On Sunday, Jackson was anything but apologetic.

"Two horrible calls, two calls that we didn't call in those situations at all this week in practice,'' Jackson said. "The first one was a cover two trap. My responsibility was to play through one, read to two and I did exactly what I did.

"The second one, same thing. Called an engage eight blitz. We sent everybody. We leave the corners out there by themselves. The post was thrown to the opposite hash, so I was really tailing him from the beginning of that route. Zero coverage, no help, backed up with a quarterback like that. I don't care if you're Champ Bailey [or] any one of those corners on the NFL 100 list, that is a play that is hard to make for any guy.''