Defensive end Jadevon Clowney is coming off a disappointing and controversial season with the Cleveland Browns last year, where he only garnered two sacks and four quarterback hits in ten games. He was sent home from practice during the last week of the season and subsequently missed the team's last game. Clowney is still looking for a home after becoming a free agent in March. While he most certainly will find one, the Jacksonville Jaguars should not be it.
Clowney visited Jacksonville Sunday but left town without a contract, and that is a good thing. A defensive end is much like the designated hitter in baseball. If a player can do one thing and do it well, he can hang around the league for quite some time.
J.J. Watt had 12.5 sacks in his 12th and final season, and Calais Campbell managed five and a half sacks at age 36. Even Clowney is only two years removed from a nine-sack campaign. But his numbers are in an overall decline as he has only had 14 sacks in his last four seasons and hasn't played a full season since 2016. In 2020 Clowney played in eight games and had zero sacks.
Why is Jadeveon Clowney not a fit with the Jacksonville Jaguars
Simply put, Jadeveon Clowney's career is far removed from his coming out party on New Year's Day down the road in Tampa ten years ago when he laid a helmet-popping hit (literally) on Michigan running back Vincent Smith in the Outback Bowl. He would fit with the Jags about as well as a pair of clown shoes on a two-year-old, and here's why.
Clowney is a one-trick pony. He doesn't offer much as a run-stopper and his tackling numbers have been poor. In comparing Clowney, who's 29 and turns 30 this year, with Campbell and Watt, the fall-off appears even more glaring.
Clowney amassed a paltry 42 total tackles last season, with 14 of those solo and four of them for a loss. Calais Campbell, at 29 years old, racked up 107 total tackles, 46 of which were solo and 16 for a loss.
J.J. Watt collected 108 tackles, with 47 solo and 18 for a loss. Granted, Clowney only played in 12 games last year, but even if the numbers are extrapolated to reflect a full season, they pale in comparison to Watt and Campbell, who both played in all 16 games of their aged-29 seasons. They were present and presence all season long.
The reason Watt and Campbell were chosen for comparison to Clowney was not only for their on-the-field prowess but for their locker-room presence. The argument has been made that Jadeveon
Clowney, much like Watt and Campbell, would bring veteran leadership to the locker room and act as a mentor for the younger players on defense. The problem is he is not a leader.
Leaders don't get sent home from practice. Leaders don't miss a game for disciplinary reasons. Leaders aren't selfish and they don't make demands, such as Clowney's demand to only play on third downs. Leaders aren't critical of teammates and coaches in public. Clowney told the media that the coaching staff played favorites with Myles Garrett. Leadership qualities, these are not. If Clowney does sign with a team, it will be his fifth team in six years. Owners and coaches tend to like to keep
their leaders around.
Calais Campbell is a shining example of this, having only played for three teams in 15 years. His tenure in Jacksonville, while short, was impactful. He was the undisputed leader of the 2017 Sacksonville squad, mentoring young players like Jalen Ramsey, Myles Jack, and Yannick Ngakoue. He was also largely responsible for keeping the defense a cohesive unit during a whirlwind season in which the Jaguars were one controversial call ( Jack wasn't down) away from the Super Bowl.
Clowney seems to be the anti-Campbell. Given his most recent body of work or lack thereof, coupled with his reputation as a malcontent, signing him would be more risk than reward. Jacksonville should look to its young core of defenders to see who steps up into a leadership role. Another Campbell comes to mind.
Third-year cornerback Tyson Campbell seems poised to break out as an elite defender and strong voice in the locker room. Second-year man Travon Walker should bring his Bulldog swagger into the locker room, and Josh Allen, now in Year 5 and the second-longest tenured defender, should claim the locker room as his.
Honestly, it doesn't even matter who emerges as the leader of the Jacksonville defense, as long as it's not some Jadeveon Clowney. In researching this article, I discovered Clowney had a childhood nickname. It was Doo-Doo. Signing him would be just that.