Nov. 13, 2011; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Rashean Mathis (27) is walked off the field after an injury against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory credit: Michael Hickey-US PRESSWIRE

Why Aaron Ross is Saving the Jaguars in 2012 and Beyond

Aaron Ross has been acquired by the Jaguars through free agency for the next three years.

Ross, a former first round pick by the New York Giants in 2007, has played with the Giants for the past five seasons.  After a very good rookie campaign (three picks, one and a half sacks, nine passes defensed, and 42 tackles) in fifteen game appearances and  nine starts.  Ross stepped up to help the Giants win the Superbowl that season.  The next season he started 15 games, had 52 tackles, three picks, and eight passes defensed.

While these may not be ideal numbers for a first round selection, Ross proved that he was a solid cornerback and could sustain a high level of play through an entire season.

The following two seasons, Ross only started two games.

However, in 2011 Ross had a resurgence.  He started 15 games, intercepted the ball four times, had 61 tackles, and 13 passes defensed.  Yet the Giants let him walk in free agency.  Those numbers put him about on par with Derek Cox’s rookie level of play (his last full season starting).  His numbers greatly surpass the last full season played by Rashean Mathis (2010).

While I don’t think he’ll be replacing Mathis (a long time staple at corner) or Cox (though he has experienced benching due to poor play), I do think that he will help out if either of them go down due to injury.  Much like they both did in 2011.  If he is not replacing Cox or Mathis, he will be playing in nickel or dime packages for the Jaguars.

Last year, the Jags brought in Drew Coleman to play nickel back for them.  He garnered two sacks, two picks, three forced fumbles, and nine passes defensed, and 44 tackles.  Coleman plays very, very good nickel corner.  Whether he ends up continuing at nickel or not, he will be in competition to play with both Rod Issac and Aaron Ross.

The way I see it, Ross is the insurance policy for the Jaguars.  He’s a way to guarantee that if Mathis isn’t making it work, he can step in.  It’s a way to guarantee that if Cox falters, the Jags don’t have to falter when shifting Issac or Coleman over.  Ross is also a way for the Jaguars to see if they need to draft a long-term answer for when Mathis can’t play any longer.  I think Ross would fit in quite well opposite Cox.  But that’s just me.

Cornerback was a problem for the Jaguars in 2011.  When Cox and Mathis went down, the Jags were scrambling (literally signing people off the street) to find people to play for them.  Ross ensures this doesn’t happen.

With his signing, the Jaguars now have a full and robust group of cornerbacks to play for them:

  • Rashean Mathis
  • Derek Cox
  • Drew Coleman
  • Aaron Ross
  • William Middleton (restricted free agent)
  • Rod Issac

I think Ross just saved the Jaguars a lot of money and a lot of time searching for the next cornerback after Mathis.  For that I am thankful.  And to Gene Smith, I am thankful.

In Gene we trust.

- Luke N. Sims

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Tags: Aaron Ross Derek Cox Drew Coleman; Gene Smith Jacksonville Jaguars New York Giants Rashean Mathis Rod Issac William Middleton

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