If you listen closely, you can hear a high-pitched “beep-beep-beep” coming from northern Florida. That would be the sound of brilliant and brand-conscious cornerback Jalen Ramsey backing away from his offseason persona.
The Jaguar who was the subject of two deep-dive interviews with major magazines (GQ and ESPN The Magazine) in August and dutifully gave the people what they came for by strafing the league with opinions, has dummied up a bit.
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Leading into last week’s game with the Giants, Ramsey downplayed his looming matchup with Odell Beckham by blaming “people” for trying to “make it about me and him specifically.”
“That’s not what it’s about. Football is a team game,” Ramsey added.
Beckham caught 11 passes for 111 yards against the Jaguars. They weren’t all on Ramsey. They didn’t tip the game in New York’s favor. And there is no denying Ramsey is one of the top (if not the top) corner in the NFL.
But when you take a flamethrower to the talents of virtually every skill position player in the league, your matchups are going to get scrutinized for evidence that you backed up your claims. Even if you don’t match up with whoever it was you scorched.
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And among the scorches was Rob Gronkowski, the likely future Hall of Fame tight end who – when mentioned to Ramsey by ESPN’s Mina Kimes – elicited this response and passage.
"I don't think Gronk's good." Registering my involuntary blinking, he course-corrects. "Let me say -- I don't think Gronk is as great as people think he is." Before the Patriots game, he explains, he had the Jaguars' analytics staffers pull some numbers for him. "Any time Gronk has been matched up with a corner, he's had a very bad game -- and that corner has had a very good game." (Gronk has performed much better when lined up in the slot than he has on the perimeter, where he's more likely to encounter elite corners -- his catch rate drops from 71 percent to 56 percent, which is lower than that of the average NFL tight end.)
I ask him what Gronk did in the AFC Championship Game. "Literally nothing. He may have had, like, one catch," he says. (Ramsey is correct, though Gronkowski left before halftime because of a concussion.)
The thing about Ramsey is that he can back up with his play every single check that he writes with his mouth. He’s brilliant. And his opinions – while maybe not always fact-based – are not fact-free.
Gronk is better against linebackers and safeties than he is against corners because he isn’t going to get the same level of separation against quicker outside players and they are expert (or should be) at disrupting when the ball arrives. Corners, as Jerod Mayo pointed out after this Ramsey quote was mentioned to him, are supposed to be able to cover better than linebackers and safeties.
Gronk would also knock a corner’s ass to Pluto in the running game, whereas it’s a much fairer fight for a linebacker.
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The flip of this would be Gronk pointing out that Ramsey is a better tackler against wideouts than he is against running backs (I don’t know if that’s a fact...just a for instance).
It’s early in the week so we don’t know yet whether Ramsey will continue to be buttoned-down in his commentary. We hope not. Cuz...content.