PICKING UP OPTIONS ON CAMPBELL, MCCRAY, DAVIS SHOWS CONTINUED SPECIAL TEAMS EMPHASIS
On Monday the Jaguars announced they would pick up contract options for defensive ends Calais Campbell and Lerentee McCray and safety Cody Davis.
The big name here is, obviously, Calais Campbell. During his first two years with the Jaguars, he became the first player in franchise history with back-to-back double-digit sack seasons. But beyond that these moves do have significance. The three contract moves suggest a continued emphasis on special teams. Additionally, having McCray and Davis around as backups on the defensive side of the ball helps the overall health of the roster.
Ever since Tom Coughlin's hiring as the Executive Vice President of Football Operations, the Jaguars have made special teams a priority. Hiring special teams guru Joe DeCamillis was step one. They also added core special teamers, return men, punters, and kickers. Many of the moves have worked out well for the team, which lead to an impressive collective special teams effort from the Jaguars in 2018, despite the lousy overall record.
All three players whose contracts were picked up Monday were among the special teams additions in Coughlin's tenure as EVP.
Campbell has a HUGE impact defensively but also contributes as a special teamer. During his time in Arizona, Campbell regularly was among the league leaders in field goal blocks. He hasn't had the same success in that regard for the Jaguars, but he still lines up on both the field goal block unit and the field goal unit.
Cody Davis was signed before the 2018 season and was a standout for the team in nearly all phases of special teams last season. Davis led the Jaguars in special teams tackles with 10. He's a proven commodity as a coverage guy on special teams and is better than your average back up safety in the NFL.
Lerentee McCray is also a core special teamer. Despite missing three games in 2018, he played the third most special teams snaps for the Jaguars and was tied for the second most special teams tackles on the team with five. McCray has additional value as a backup pass rusher and filled in nicely for Dante Fowler during his suspension, and later on in the season after Fowler was traded.
The Jaguars' special teams unit has a bright outlook in 2019, thanks in large part to these three players. Of course, having players like DJ Chark at kicker return and as a burner, Dede Westbrook at punt returner, Logan Cooke at punter, and Josh Lambo (signed four-year extension last week) at kicker doesn't hurt either.
Do you think the Jaguars will have an upper echelon special teams unit in 2019? Let us know in the comments below.
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