Ryan Van Bibber from SB Nation put out his ranking of the cornerbacks in the NFL on July 2. The Jags defense was good last season, but the depth of the cornerback unit was severely tested and took a beating from quarterbacks who knew how to exploit additions that were signed off the street.
While the starting crew, Derek Cox and Rashean Mathis, are top level players the rest of the unit leaves some to be desired. William Middleton outplayed nickel corner Drew Coleman when he was on the field creating a redundancy and resulting in Coleman’s cutting this offseason. Aaron Ross has been brought in to help ease the strain on the gap between Mathis and Cox and the rest of the team. Whoever loses the Mathis-Ross battle will be the nickel corner with Middleton and co. taking over the four through six spots.
So, how has this reflected on the team? Last year’s woes certainly weren’t enough to bump them too far down were they?
Apparently they were.
According to SB Nation the Jaguars rank 19th in the league. As an avid Jaguars fan and somebody who writes fairly regularly on the Jaguars, I understand where Mr. Van Bibber was coming from. He took the injuries that happened last year combined with a common viewpoint that the Jaguars aren’t a good football team and the team’s terrible record and put it all together. He noted that Pro Football Focus only gave William Middleton and Derek Cox a positive rating on the season.
But this is a defense that was 8th in the league in passing yards allowed, 9th in passing TDs allowed, and 13th in interceptions. All with a meager 31 sacks! The secondary play as a whole wasn’t so bad that they were 19th in the league. The corners were slaughtered some days, but their play was dictated in large part by the play of the rest of the defense.
While I look at the numbers and see how much better the defense would have been with even better cornerback play, I see a unit that did its job very well – even when scraping the bottom of the barrel for talent. Despite the very good numbers for a bunch of untested players playing at the premium pro level of American Football the corners ranked 19th. SB Nation needs to get this right next time.
In case you were wondering who (ridiculously) was ranked above the Jaguars: Dallas Cowboys at #4 (23rd in passing yards allowed), New York Giants – #11 (29th), Arizona Cardinals – #14 (17th), Buffalo Bills – #15 (19th), Chicago Bears – #17 (28th).
Curiously, some of the units “best player” as listed by SB Nation is a rookie. This is true for the Buffalo Bills’ Stephon Gilmore. What does that say about their entire unit? Think about it.
The only other team that got more screwed in these ranking than the Jags were the Browns who ranked 2nd in passing yards allowed and 4th in TDs allowed but still ended up at #16 on the list. At least Joe Haden got the recognition he deserved. Once again, mark my words, the Browns will be good in 2012.
– Luke N. Sims
You can also find me on Twitter @LukeNSims