Jacksonville Jaguars secondary ranked 13th in 2016 according to Pro Football Focus


The Jaguars had a disappointing season, but they saw their pass defense improve immensely thanks to a more talented secondary.

When the Jacksonville Jaguars hired Gus Bradley to be the head coach of the team in 2013, many were expecting the former Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator to establish a strong secondary in North Florida. For the first three years of the Bradley regime, the Jaguars had arguably the worst secondary in the NFL, an assertion supported by their horrific overall pass defense rankings.

The 2016 season was different however, as the Jaguars became one of the better pass defenses in the league. Don’t give Bradley much of the credit though, as an influx of talent was the main reason for the big improvement.

Despite some shortcoming as certain positions, Pro Football Focus ranked the Jacksonville secondary as the 13th best in the NFL in 2016.

"13. Jacksonville Jaguars (9)Top overall grade: S John Cyprien, 87.8 (No. 7)Top coverage grade: CB Jalen Ramsey, 82.5 (No. 22)Top run-defense grade: S John Cyprien, 98.8 (No. 1)Most snaps: S John Cyprien, 1,071Prior to this season, John Cyprien was not coming anywhere close to the level of play one would expect from a second-round draft pick. However, he completely turned his play around as a run defender, as he tied for the league-lead among safeties with 27 run stops. His coverage ability is still a work in progress, but he’s slowly improved, even if only to average at best. First-round draft pick Jalen Ramsey was the highest-graded rookie in coverage, and if his end to the season is a sign of things to come, then he was worth the top-five selection. Over the final five weeks, Ramsey recorded a combined 11 interceptions and pass breakups versus 17 receptions allowed, and an opposing passer rating of 37.8."

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The elevated play in the secondary starts with Jalen Ramsey, one of the top candidates for defensive rookie of the year. Despite a preseason injury that limited his time in offseason activies, Ramsey started in week 1 by covering the opposing team’s top receiver. He was talkative but he backed it up.

The rest of the secondary ranged from above average to poor. Tashaun Gipson was a bit of a disappointment in his first season after signing a big contract, while Prince Amukamara turned out to be a solid gamble.

Oddly, Pro Football Focus ranked Cyprien unusually high, mostly on the strength of his run defense. while Cyp wasn’t the absolute train wreck he’s been over the first 3 years of his career, there’s absolutely no way he was the best player in the secondary. The only reason he wasn’t a huge liability this year was because Gipson’s presence shielded Cyp from any demanding duties in coverage. He was still a joke in coverage when he had to actually shadow receivers or tight ends and he doesn’t make nearly enough plays as a box safety to be a net positive. I am fairly certain the Jaguars will let him walk in free agency.

Some things should change next year, but the Jaguars have some promising pieces in the secondary.