Over at BleacherReport, Nate Dunlevy just posted an article about the dream scenario for the Jaguars training camp (Link in the Hub). While I agree with him on his first few points, (Eben Britton coming back from injury, Blaine Gabbert lighting it up, Maurice Jones-Drew showing up) I can’t agree with him on his final point about Rashean Mathis winning his starting job. While I like Mathis and would prefer him on the outside to Aaron Ross, if Mathis loses his job to Ross then he loses his job and that is better for the Jaguars.
Football is a competitive sport. Teams get better when other players beat out the established veterans and play better. Aaron Ross was not signed to play nickel like Drew Coleman was. Ross was signed to compete for the starting spot and lock it down in years to come.
Contrary to what Dunlevy says in his article, Ross is far more than a nickel corner. He has started a total of 41 of the 65 games he has appeared in. Last season he started 15 of 16 games with four picks and 13 passes defensed. We aren’t talking about a player who has only proven to play the nickel, we’re talking about a two time Super Bowl champion who has proven that he can be a viable starter multiple times during his career. And if he has been a viable starter for the Giants, why couldn’t he be for the Jags?
If Ross beats out Mathis, it means two things. 1) Ross is better than Mathis, and 2) Mathis doesn’t deserve to be starting. Coming back from injury, Mathis is well ahead of schedule in his recovery and is feeling good. While he certainly not as young as he once was, his play is presumably still at a level that he can be an effective contributor. I think that Mathis wants to stay with the team and probably will even if he doesn’t win the starting job.
We have two very good players who could start opposite Derek Cox in 2012. In a dream scenario for training camp both will be healthy, the best man will win the job, and the other will stay on to play nickel. There’s no downside this year for the position. Whomever wins, wins. And that’s a good thing for all involved.
– Luke N. Sims
You can also find me on Twitter @LukeNSims