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Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars 2018 Position Group Breakdown: Secondary

Zach Goodall

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Jan 21, 2018; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Brandin Cooks (14) drops a pass behind Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey (20) and cornerback A.J. Bouye (21) during the third quarter in the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

As we wrap up the defensive side of the Locked On Jaguars position group breakdown series, it’s time to take a look at the team’s secondary, which is headlined by star power at the cornerback position in the Jalen Ramsey – A.J. Bouye tandem.

The two were both named to the NFL All-Pro teams last year, with Ramsey making the first team and Bouye making the second. Ramsey finished his second career season with a basic stat-line of 52 tackles, four interceptions, and 17 defended passes. Taking a deeper look at his productivity, via PlayerProfiler.com, it’s clear that Ramsey plays at an elite level. Ramsey’s average target separation at the pass was .84 yards per coverage snap, ranking 3rd among NFL cornerbacks, and he allowed the 5th best passer rating among CBs at 55.5. He ranked 7th in yards per reception allowed at 10.9 YPC, and 3rd in yards per target allowed at 5.6 YPT.

Much like Ramsey, Bouye boasted elite-level statistics as well, both basic and in-depth. After four years with the Houston Texans, where he broke out on the scene in 2016, Bouye signed a five year, $67.5 million deal with the Jaguars and had himself a career year in his first season in black and teal. Bouye recorded 53 tackles, six interceptions, and 18 defended passes. While he fared a little worse than Ramsey in target separation (1 yard/41st among CBs) and yards per reception allowed (14/53rd), he only gave up 6.2 yards per target allowed (11th), had a catch rate of 44.1% (3rd), and a passer rating allowed of 37.5 (1st).

It’s hard to argue with the opinion that Ramsey and Bouye are the best cornerback tandem in the NFL, and they look to build upon their last season’s success in 2018. However, how does the rest of the Jaguars’ secondary look going into this year?

Projected defensive end depth chart

*Note: Italics = starter, Underline = Acquired in 2018 FA/Draft

Outside CB: Jalen Ramsey, A.J. Bouye, Quenton Meeks

Nickel CB: D.J. Hayden, Tyler Patmon

Free safety: Tashaun Gipson, Cody Davis

Strong safety: Barry Church, Ronnie HarrisonDon Carey

As far as the safety positions, Tashaun Gipson and Barry Church will start the season as incumbent starters. Gipson, who is coming off of a four interception-season, is likely to hold onto his starting gig for the entire season and into the future, but the 30 year old Church could receive some pressure as the season goes on from 3rd round draft pick Ronnie Harrison, who has been turning heads during OTAs.

Back to cornerback, 2018 free agent signing D.J. Hayden will be manning the nickel corner position in place of Aaron Colvin, who the Houston Texans signed in free agency on a four year deal. On the first day of Jagurs mini-camp, Hayden had an interception and a pass breakup, per Mike Kaye of FirstCoastNews.com.

As for depth at CB, I expect Tyler Patmon to be the full-time backup at nickel and beat out Jalen Myrick. Patmon had eight interceptions in training camp last year, and has been taking advantage of the reps he’s been given so far in this offseason’s training sessions. Quenton Meeks signed with the Jaguars as a UDFA immediately after this year’s draft, after widely being expected to go in the middle rounds of the draft. Why he fell? I’m not sure, but he possesses a technical skillset that could progress very well behind the master technician of a cornerback that is A.J. Bouye.

Check out the rest of the Locked on Jaguars position group breakdowns below:

Zach Goodall covers the Jacksonville Jaguars on the Locked On Jaguars Podcast and on BigCatCountry.com. Follow him on Twitter @zach_goodall.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars agree to terms with 2018 first round pick Taven Bryan

Ruairi Songer

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Jun 14, 2018; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars defensive tackle Taven Bryan (90) walks to the field during mini camp at the Dream Finders Homes Practice Facility. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The Jaguars have come to terms on a contract with first round pick defensive tackle Taven Bryan, reports Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.

Bryan’s rookie deal is worth $10.2 million over 4 years, and includes a $5.5 million signing bonus.

The contract, relatively low compared to the NFL’s most expensive defensive line, could help relieve the Jaguars cap space within the next few years when Bryan inevitably takes on a bigger role.

 

 

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Blake Bortles Must Take Control, Limit Mistakes in Training Camp

Zach Goodall

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Jan 21, 2018; Foxborough, MA, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles (5) reacts against the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles signed a three year, $54 million extension with the team in February after leading Jacksonville to their first AFC Championship since 1999.

Now, the signal-caller must prove he was worth the deal.

Bortles has had an up-and-down career so far in Jacksonville, but showed significant improvement during the 2017 season compared to the year before. The QB completed 60.2% of his passes — a career high — for 3687 yards, 21 touchdowns and 13 interceptions — a career low — and led the Jaguars to a 10-6, AFC South Champion season.

However, when training camp came around prior to the 2017 season, the wheels were falling off the wagon. Bortles’ had a disappointing camp, throwing five interceptions during the annual season-ticket owner exclusive practice, and during the preseason was benched in favor of Chad Henne to add some fuel to a quarterback competition between the two.

Bortles did win the job back before the regular season kicked off, and all was forgotten about as the team started winning. But, with a shiny new contract in his hands and a team to lead back to the playoffs this year, Bortles can not repeat his 2017 training camp performance this time around.

This will be Bortles’ second full offseason in offensive coordinator Nate Hackett’s system, and he needs to play like a poised veteran of the system. Hackett wasn’t a perfect playcaller in 2017, but he seemed to find a way to mesh the team’s run-first philosophy with Bortles’ strength’s and limit his faults with controlling the football.

All eyes are on running back Leonard Fournette’s growth as a bell-cow back entering his second professional season, and that should continue to take pressure off of Bortles. He doesn’t need to force passes or rush into decisions, as the run game will be the focal point of the offense.

In the passing game, things might start off a little shaky. The receiving corps was shaken up during the offseason, and it will naturally take time for Bortles’ to form chemistry with his new weapons.

This is the perfect opportunity for Bortles to take charge of the passing game, though. Taking the new guys under his wing and showing them the ropes will establish a sense of leadership that Bortles’ hasn’t been been able to establish in years’ past when his job security was in question.

On the field during camp, Bortles must display consistency. Despite his lows during last year’s camp, there were also moments where one was left thinking “Wow, now THAT was a good pass. Why can’t Bortles do that on every throw?”

It’s hard to ask the quarterback to be perfect on every throw, but with pressure being lifted by the presence of a true run game, Bortles’ has the ability to be a little more relaxed when dropping back. Opposing defenses must respect Jacksonville’s rushing attack, and with that, there will be more options to utilize in the passing game that Bortles must trust.

Bortles doesn’t need to “wow” anyone during camp. That isn’t what the team is going to ask of him during the season. As a quarterback, Bortles must display growth in terms of his consistency as a passer, limiting mistakes and learning to take what the defense gives him. As a Jaguar, Bortles must take the reigns and lead the team en route to an AFC South-winning season for the second year in a row.

After getting paid like the man, Blake Bortles needs to be the man.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars defensive tackle Marcell Dareus accused of sexual assault

Zach Goodall

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Jan 21, 2018; Foxborough, MA, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars defensive tackle Marcell Dareus (99) against the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Jacksonville Jaguars defensive tackle Marcell Dareus has been accused of sexual assault and exposing a sexually transmitted disease to an anonymous Texas woman, per News4Jax.

The report states that Dareus had unconsensual sex with the woman when she was unconcious in a hotel in Houston this past April, also failing to disclose he was carrying herpes. The woman plans to sue Dareus for at least $15,000, per the report.

This isn’t the first sexual assault accusation against Dareus. A Las Vegas woman recently accused Dareus of a similar act from back in January, according to FloridaPolitics.com. Dareus reportedly brought the woman back to a party at his rental mansion in Lutz, near Tampa, where she claims he groped, drugged, and assaulted her after she blacked out.

Dareus was acquired by the Jaguars in the middle of the 2017 season via trade with the Buffalo Bills. The Jaguars sent Buffalo their fifth round pick in the 2018 Draft and hoped Daerus would shore up their run defense, which he did: The team went from ranking last in the NFL to 21st by season’s end after Dareus’ acquisition (9 games).

We will update this story as more details emerge.

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