There are many reasons why the Jacksonville Jaguars finished 3-14 last year but their secondary wasn’t one of them. In fact, the group was one of their few bright spots in 2021 and it should be even better this upcoming season. For the time being, the defensive unit got a favorable spot in Pro Football Focus’ most recent ranking.
Michael Renner of PFF recently ranked every secondary in the NFL and the Jags popped up at No. 19, which is a bit higher than the majority of defensive groups. Renner notes that Jacksonville has gotten low coverage grades over the last three years but believes they’re poised to improve in 2022.
"The Jaguars have earned bottom-six coverage grades in each of the past three seasons, but that should change in 2022. The biggest reasons are second-year breakout candidates Tyson Campbell and Andre Cisco. From Week 9 on last year, Campbell tallied two picks and six forced incompletions, while Cisco allowed only 41 yards on 114 coverage snaps."
Last season, the Jags’ ranked 28th in points allowed and 20th in total yards. However, they were the seventh-best defense against the pass, allowing 24 receiving touchdowns. On the other hand, they only logged seven interceptions good for 30th in the league. This is something they must work on if they want to be in a better position to win games in the 2022 season. Cornerback Shaquill Griffin says their goal is to lead the league in picks, but that may not be realistic. Having said that, they have enough pieces on the roster to make significant strides.
The Jaguars have a couple of promising players in their secondary
As Renner pointed out, cornerback Andre Cisco and Tyson Campbell are poised to make a leap in year 2. Cisco barely got any playing time early in the 2021 season but showed promise once he got the chance to join the starting lineup. With one year of experience under his belt, he should have no trouble beating incumbent Andrew Wingard for the stop next to Rayshawn Jenkins.
Campbell was a starter from Day 1 but struggled in coverage and had a nagging foot injury early in the season. Once he got healthy and as the year progressed, he became a key cog in the Jags’ back seven. He will once again line up opposite Shaquill Griffin
Cisco, Griffin, Jenkins, and Campbell will be joined by Darious Williams, who will tentatively line up in the slot. Williams signed a three-year deal in free agency and was the most meaningful addition the Jags made to their secondary this offseason. The Jacksonville native was a mainstay of the Los Angeles Rams over the last three seasons and should have an impact as the Jags’ No. 3 corner in 2022.
Last but not least, the Jaguars will have direction with Doug Pederson and defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell at the helm. This is important when you take into account that Jenkins said not long ago that it felt like the team was just working for the sake of working under Urban Meyer last year.
If Jacksonville’s secondary picks up where they left off in 2021, they should become a top 15 unit. They have enough talent and the right leadership to make it happen.