Andrew Wingard: Jaguars ‘pride ourselves on being smartest secondary’
Not a single player in the Jacksonville Jaguars’ secondary was a first-round draft pick. Cornerback Tyson Campbell and safety Andre Cisco are the only two defensive backs on the team who were Day 2 selections.
But what the team lacks in elite physical talent on the back-end of its defense is made up for with intelligence, according to veteran safety Andrew Wingard.
In April, the Jaguars selected three defensive backs — safety Antonio Johnson, cornerback Erick Hallett, and cornerback Christian Braswell — in the last three rounds of the 2023 NFL draft. Wingard said the new additions to the roster are quickly learning how much the Jaguars prioritize intellect.
“It’s just cool seeing them come in to how we operate,” Wingard said Monday in an interview with Mia O’Brien of 1010XL. “A lot of them come in expecting it to be super physical or fast — it’s really all mental. We try to pride ourselves on being the smartest secondary in the league.
“When guys get in it takes them a minute to understand that every guy in this league is between 5’10 [and] 6’2, 200 pounds, and runs a 4.4 40. What’s going to separate us? Our mental edge. That’s what we try to work on every day, so it’s cool to see them start to transition to more being locked in on the mental side.”
Last year, the Jaguars secondary allowed the fifth most passing yards in the league. However, it came through down the stretch, allowing just 197.8 yards per game during the team’s five-game winning streak to close out the regular season.
While not many changes were made in the offseason to bolster the secondary or the team’s anemic pass rush, the Jaguars hope another year of growth for the team’s many young defensive players coupled with a second year under defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell will yield better results.
“It’s so awesome not having to learn a new defense in OTAs,” Wingard told O’Brien on Monday. “Being able to come in and just build off that baseline of last year, knowing all the plays. Learning all the other spots and how they correlate with the defense is fun and that’s what we’ve been trying to work on.”
In March, Wingard signed a three-year contract with the Jaguars a day before he was set to become a free agent.
Ranking all 17 of the Jaguars' 2023 games from easiest to toughest
Report: K'Lavon Chaisson could be 'reclamation project' trade target
Davante Adams says Jaguars' Calvin Ridley is a top 5 WR in NFL