The Jacksonville Jaguars are built to win with defense and the running game. In a league that benefits teams that pass, they are a growing anomaly, insulating the quarterback position and attempting to win while handcuffed.
Several times last season, the Jags didn't trust Blake Bortles to make plays in crunch time. Losses to the Arizona Cardinals and New England Patriots (AFC Championship game) immediately come to mind as examples of Jacksonville attempting to coach around the quarterback.
Jags cornerback Jalen Ramsey believes this approach is holding the team back. In an interview with Clay Skipper for the August edition of GQ Magazine, the talkative All-Pro said he'd like to see coaches trust Bortles more.
"Blake do what he gotta do... I think in crunch time moments, like last year's playoff game -- not as a team, because we would have trusted him -- but I think as an organization, we should have trusted him more to keep throwing it," Ramsey said. "We kinda got complacent and conservative. And I think that's why we lost. We started running it on first and second down, throwing it on third down, every single time we were out there. [The Patriots] caught on to that."
After earning a 10-point fourth quarter lead in the AFC Championship Game, the Jags ran on four straight first-down plays over the course of three drives, for a total of three yards. By the time Bortles threw on first down in the fourth quarter, the Jags had lost the lead.
"[Foles] won them a Super Bowl so he's good enough to do that," Ramsey said. "He had a hella good team, too, though. But as long as you can do what the team asks you to do, then you're straight. Like people say Blake sucks, but he took us to the AFC Championship game off strictly doing what was just asked of him: not turning the ball over, running Leonard [Fournette] to death, letting the defense get some turnovers, and putting us in a good field position to capitalize on.
"That was what we asked him to do. Playoff Blake is good. People can say whatever but playoff Blake is good. I think that's how it is with a lot of teams: as long as you do what that team is asking you to do, and you do it well with the rest of the team, then you can be considered good-or at least not bad. You not a bad quarterback if you do what your team asks of you. Matthew Stafford, I think he's straight. I don't think he the best quarterback out there. But he do what he gotta do."
Ramsey was suspended this week for violating team rules and conduct unbecoming of a Jaguars football player. Before that ban, the talkative corner ran down what he thinks of every NFL QB with Skipper.
Let's take a gander at some of Ramsey's thoughts on many of the NFL QBs:
Aaron Rodgers: Does not suck.
Tom Brady: Does not suck.
Marcus Mariota: Great for the Titans.
Tyrod Taylor: "Actually a better quarterback than he gets credit for, because he does not make mistakes."
Jimmy Garoppolo: Not sure if he's sold on the hype yet.
Deshaun Watson: "He'll be the league MVP in a couple years."
Carson Wentz: Ramsey says Wentz and Watson will be battling for MVP trophy for the next five to 10 years.
Jared Goff: "average to above average... For what his team ask him to do, yeah, he's good."
Kirk Cousins: "Winner" "Competitor." "Coming off the play action, he's the best quarterback in the league."
Derek Carr: Good.
Eli Manning: "It's not really Eli. I think it's Odell [Beckham, Jr.]. I won't say Eli's good, I'll say Odell's good. And their connection is good."
Russell Wilson: Good. Good leader too.
Ben Roethlisberger: "Decent." "It's not Big Ben, it's [Antonio Brown]. Big Ben slings the ball a lot of the time. He just slings it, and his receivers go get it... I played him twice last year, and he really disappointed me."
Drew Brees: Ramsey is a fan.
Andrew Luck: "I don't really think he's that good."
Ryan Tannehill: Don't know much about him.
Matthew Stafford: "He do what he gotta do."
Philip Rivers: "Pretty good."
Matt Ryan: "Overrated."
Joe Flacco: "Sucks. I played him two years in a row. He sucks."
Lamar Jackson: going to be good.
Baker Mayfield: "...if they want that type of quarterback-confident, get out the pocket, throw on the run, big plays, charisma-then yeah, I understand Baker going number one."
Ramsey's commentary on the Mayfield pick lead into a scorching hot take on Bills rookie QB Josh Allen, whom the CB has attacked several times publicly since the draft.
You can -- and should -- check out the entire piece in GQ.
UPDATE: Josh Allen was asked his thoughts on Ramsey and outside critics.
"I don't care. It doesn't bother me one bit," he said according to Matthew Fairburn of The Athletic. "I care about my teammates and what my teammates think of me."
UPDATE 2.0: The crack team at NFL Research (toss 'em a follow at @NFLResearch) broke down how Ramsey has faced against the QBs listed above.