This offseason has been chock-full of interesting quotes. We’ve had Damon Harrison comparing Eli Manning to LeBron James. There was Josh Norman calling Dez Bryant “just a guy” and saying the Cowboys’ can’t ‘get past him’ when Washington was swept last year. We certainly can’t forget last week when a journalist with the Philadelphia Inquirer suggested Jerry Jones owed gratitude to Eagles fans for his induction into the 2017 NFL Hall of Fame. With all these gems, someone should petition CBS to resurrect an old series but change its name to “Football Players Say The Darndest Things.”
Well this week, we have a former Cowboys’ captain joining in as Barry Church (now with Jacksonville Jaguars) made his own declarations:
“I feel like we have a lot more talent here than we did over there [Dallas]. We just have to keep plugging away and get ready for Week 1.”
Church isn’t far off if we’re talking strictly defensive talent. The Jaguars signed some key free agents with Church, A.J. Bouye, and Calais Campbell who just had a career year at 30 years old. They also have a few other young standouts like Jalen Ramsey, Myles Jack, and Telvin Smith. Dante Fowler Jr. is a young pass rusher that put up four sacks and 32 tackles last season after spending his rookie year rehabbing a torn ACL. Keep in mind that Jacksonville made moves to replace a handful starters they decided to move on from too, just like the Cowboys.
All in all, the Jaguars are quite loaded on the defensive side of the ball but they were already a good defense last season. If Church thinks for one second that his Jaguars offense can even come close to the level of offensive firepower the Cowboys have, he should be committed.
The only real offensive addition the Jaguars made was drafting Leonard Fournette out of LSU. Under Tom Coughlin’s new leadership, he wants the Jaguars to pound the ball and play good defense. That’s his philosophy in the simplest of terms. Fournette is a gifted runner but he’s more of a bruiser back. Fournette prefers the head-on approach and he’s looking for that contact. As much fanfare Fournette created ahead of the draft, he’s not the complete package that Ezekiel Elliott is. More importantly, Fournette’s skill set really benefits from something the Jaguars don’t really have.
Frankly, what’s missing in Coughlin’s vision for his offense is the line that can protect as well as open up the holes necessary to be a successful running team.
That’s where the Cowboys blow the Jaguars out of the water. Tyron Smith or Branden Albert? Zack Martin or A.J. Cann? La’el Collins or Jermey Parnell? Is this even contestable? The Jaguars offensive line is just a smidge above adequate because of their solid center, Brandon Linder. We’re just going to keep moving down the line with the other positions.
Let’s see, tight ends? Julius Thomas left Jacksonville for Miami, leaving Mychal Rivera to take his place. Advantage goes to the sure-fire Hall of Famer Jason Witten.
Now, Jacksonville has a solid starting receiving corps with Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns, and Marqise Lee. With that said, Robinson isn’t the demonstrative threat on-par with Dez Bryant. Allen Hurns and Terrance Williams are a wash because they have had almost the exact same career to date. Marqise Lee is a completely different type of receiver but Cole Beasley has almost doubled his production across the board.
We save the best for last because comparing the quarterbacks is a clear advantage for the Cowboys. Blake Bortles is in his fourth season of a never-ending audition. Since being drafted third overall in 2014, Bortles and company have managed to win 11 games and lose 35.
He’s underachieved, completing 58% of his passes in a league that demands mid-60’s in order to be considered upper echelon. He’s thrown 69 touchdowns but also has 51 interceptions (avg. 17 INTs per season) and has a passer rating of 79.6. According to PFF, Bortles collapsed from a grade of 80.3 in 2015 to 52.9 last season. His passer rating under pressure was a horrible 49.7 with three touchdowns to nine interceptions. The owner has been more than willing to pony up the dough for talent around Bortles but it’s time to face the music. What more is there left to see?
Dak Prescott may only have one season under his belt but it just so happens to be the best rookie season for any quarterback ever. Dak’s cool and collected not impatient or erratic. His command and control in the pocket are not often seen in a 23-year old. He’s just simply everything Bortles has shown to not be.
So, only a week into training camp and Barry Church is giving the “grass is greener” jargon already? The Jags defense looks to be a better unit than what Dallas has but even the Cowboys don’t exactly know what they have yet over there. What they do know is that their offense is among the best in the league and certainly more talented than what Jacksonville will roll out with. Maybe someone should bring Barry Church a copy of the Cowboys’ depth chart to use as a helpful reminder of the talent that he used to play alongside.