For a team that finished with only 4 wins last season, the Jacksonville Jaguars are receiving a lot of positive press around the media. Already having made appearances with head coach Gus Bradley, general manager David Caldwell, and running back Toby Gerhart, the Jaguars had yet another representative on NFL.com’s “Making the Leap” series.
After finishing his rookie season strong, 2nd year safety Johnathan Cyprien looks poised to become a big-time defensive presence in the Jacksonville secondary. As Chris Wesseling points out, Cyprien had his reasons for struggling so early in 2013:
After gaining momentum throughout the offseason, Cyprien was waylaid by a hamstring injury entering training camp and fell behind in his development. He struggled out of the regular-season gate, swimming in coverage and taking bad angles on missed tackles. That was not entirely unexpected for a rookie making the jump from the Sun Belt conference to football’s highest level.
As most of us noticed however, Cyprien made a significant step forward in the second half of 2013.
The light appeared to flip on near midseason, as the game slowed down for Cyprien and his coverage skills improved. Not only did Cyprien surrender fewer big plays, he also started to break on the ball and make an impact on contested catches.
As Wesseling points out in his piece, Cyprien should benefit greatly from an improved pass rush in front of him. Chris Clemons and Red Bryant are an immediate upgrade along the defensive line, and if guys like Andre Branch and Ryan Davis can contribute then Cyprien should be able to focus on being proactive and making plays.
Cyprien boasts the physicality, movement pattern and athleticism to match Ward in the running game while still holding his own in coverage.
This isn’t the first time this offseason we’ve heard about raised expectations for Cyprien, and for good reason – all signs point to a breakout year in 2014.
– Daniel Lago