As the NFL enters into offseason, we take a look at Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Calais Campbell. Standing at a towering 6’8” and 300 pounds, the well-respected Jaguar is now the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award winner. Based on the Jaguars’ performance last season, many NFL analyst pick the Jags to make it to the Super Bowl. That’s high praise for a team that has struggle to reach .500 football over the last decade. During those ten years, the Jags have enjoyed the luxury of having a top 5 draft pick in the first round. Critics believe that the Jaguars brought in Campbell as a “stop-gap” player that would provide leadership to those young picks while helping to increase their development. He added that and more.
When Calais Campbell signed with the Jaguars during his free agency, many wondered if the perineal Pro Bowler would be a good fit for the Jaguars. He was an instant upgrade at the defensive end position and a terror to opposing quarterbacks. The statistics he registered (breaking the team season sacks record with 14.5) garnered him another Pro Bowl and All Pro selections. His first game versus the Houston Texas, he had monster game. He registered 4 sacks and sparked an onslaught as the team racked up 10 sacks (team record) in the blowout win over their arch rivals. That game was the catalyst of a winning season for the Jags as they made it all the way to the AFC Championship game were they lost to the defending Super Bowl champions New England Patriots.
The year following that magical playoff run, the team decline and they made several personnel changes. The team release Blake Bortles and a host of other players. They signed form Super Bowl winner in Nick Foles and drafted rookies Josh Allen and Garnder Minshew II.
The Foles signing proved to be a disaster as he was injured in Week One verses the Kansas City Chiefs. Minshew entered the game and did well in his backup role. Minshew played well and he took team to a 6-6 record while Foles was placed on IR. Foles ultimately returned from IR during the season and his play was less than stellar. The coaching staff decided to roll with Minshew as he showed flashes of greatness during his time as starter. The Jaguars finished the season at 6-10; bottom of the AFC South standings.
Due to the record and the Players Association report about how the Jaguars treats its players (i.e. unwarranted fines etc), the team parted ways with Executive Vice President Tom Coughlin. Some around the league thinks the Jags will part ways with Campbell as well due to his age and expensive contract. I don’t believe that is the case.
Trough it all, Campbell has remained an absolute professional. He was always seen at the Jaguars facility as a person who motivated others on and off the field. He made another trip to the NFL Pro Bowl and he’s the heartbeat and leader of the team. It will be interesting on what happens to Campbell in the offseason, but I surely think the Jags will find a way to keep the savy veteran; the team’s spark plug.
If they do keep Campbell and is able to duplicate the same statistical feat from last few seasons, he should strongly be considered for Defensive Player of the Year. If Calais Campbell is able to get DPOY, the Jaguars will most likely be playing in the Super Bowl as analyst predicted.
(AP Photo/David J. Phillip)