Jaguars’ DC calls McLaurin a ‘5-star’ ahead of Week 1 originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
As the Washington Commanders gear up for Week 1 vs. the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday, fourth-year wide receiver Terry McLaurin will naturally be a point of emphasis for the opposition. Oftentimes, coaches have to mold their entire secondary’s game plan around No. 17—which makes sense given McLaurin’s pedigree.
Jaguars defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell spoke on Washington’s WR1 and gave his respect for one of the most talented wideouts in the NFL.
“I call him a 5-star,” Caldwell said on Thursday morning. “I know that might be a college term, but he’s a 5-star. You got guys that are go-to guys and he’s a go-to guy. He has the speed, has the routes, has the hands—so he’s gonna be a challenge for us. We’re gonna go out there and, just like we do every week, go out there and compete against him and see what shakes out.”
It’s easy to see why Caldwell felt urged to give McLaurin his roses. In his first three years as a pro, McLaurin has averaged over 1,000 receiving yards per season and has been one of the NFL’s best receivers on contested targets. The 26-year-old has set himself apart as Washington’s best offensive player despite shaky quarterback play throughout his tenure.
Though Caldwell is in his first season in Jacksonville, he’s seen McLaurin before. He worked as Tampa Bay’s inside linebackers coach from 2019-21, during which time they defeated Washington in the NFC Wild Card game en route to a Super Bowl championship. Before that, he spent time with the Jets, Cardinals and Eagles.
Even with McLaurin’s presence on the field, though, Caldwell is confident his secondary can keep pace.
“I’ve seen the work they’ve been putting in here, the techniques they’ve been learning, and just the confidence they have,” Caldwell said of the unit.
McLaurin has never faced the Jaguars before in his career. It’s unclear precisely how Jacksonville plans to handle covering him, but if history is any indication, it might not be a one-man job.
Per fantasy football expert Dwain McFarland, McLaurin was one of the league’s most frequently double-teamed wide receivers at 10.1% (fifth overall in November). Despite that stat, McLaurin had one of the best rates of still getting open despite the two-man coverage at 45.7%.
When asked if the Jaguars plan on ‘shadowing’ McLaurin (or having a cornerback follow McLaurin around the field to cover him regardless of where he lines up), Caldwell wasn’t eager about the idea.
“We really don’t have to,” he said. “Right now we’re thinking, let’s stay left and right, but if we need to do something like that, we can do it. But we have confidence in our three starting corners that we can go out there and do what we need to do.”
McLaurin is preparing for what he hopes will be a fourth consecutive season as one of the most productive receivers in football. Sunday vs. Jacksonville will be his opportunity to potentially start off on the right foot.