Ask Jacksonville Jaguars secondary coach what he thinks about the unit he works with on a daily basis and he will tell you it can get better in 2018. That’s a scary notion given both Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye made the Pro Bowl and Barry Church and Tashaun Gipson are two of the more underrated safeties in the NFL.
Church received high praise from Fewell when he was interviewed back in June during the Jacksonville Jaguars OTAs. As the leader of the secondary, Church is a leader on the field and in the locker room and someone who has become the “Voice of Reason” as his coach explained.
When you talk Jaguars fans, the first thing that comes to mind when you mean the name Barry Church is the controversial hit on Rob Gronkowski in the AFC Title game that knocked out the All-Pro tight end. But Church’s season was much more than that. “Silently,” he had four interceptions and 88 combined tackles. Oh, and let’s not forget the 1.5 sacks on the season.
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The praise for Church extends from his position to coach to head coach Doug Marrone, who on more than one occasion has mentioned in press conferences that Church is someone he goes to and talks about football and the team. It’s that kind of respect that has meant plenty to this growing organization.
"“When you have a secondary, people don’t think in terms of ‘quarterback.’ Barry Church is our ‘quarterback’ in the secondary,” Fewell explained. “He is our quarterback on the defense. He makes a lot of calls, checks, the motions, and adjustments that we have. He is kind of the voice of reason.”"
Church made his presence known here in Jacksonville when he signed a free agent deal this past offseason. The former Dallas Cowboys star told the media he thought the Jaguars had more talent than his former team, drawing the ire of the fanbase and media in Texas and stirring the pot a bit down here in North Florida.
Brashness, arrogance, or just spitting facts (thanks, Jalen), Church knew something about what he was talking about. The Jaguars’ defense delivered in a big way with his help and guidance.
Fewell continued to marvel about his player.
"“He is a very mature individual, and he is a very humble individual. To deal with our personalities that we have in our back row and to deal with our communication system with [defensive coordinator] Coach [Todd] Wash and relaying that information and getting everybody on the same page, Barry is invaluable from that standpoint. You have to have somebody like that to make our system or a system work. He is that kind of man,” he added."
Having someone who can corral the personalities in the secondary and remain as focused on playing the game of football is a help to the coaching staff, one that was also adjusting to the newness of the roster and the organization last season. Fewell believes the growth of this unit and the defense begins with a mindset and a passion.
Church delivers both in such a way you cannot help but be impressed with how he carries himself on a roster full of star players.