Jacksonville Jaguars free safety Tashaun Gipson had plenty to say on the heels of a 24-20 loss against the Indianapolis Colts, per Brent Martineau.
This isn't the first time we've heard a Jaguars player comment on the Jaguars' defensive scheme, but this essentially killed any notion of Todd Wash being retained by the new head coach. With that said, we need to unpack this interview from top to bottom.
"I'm just not a guy that wants to sit middle of the field 15 yards down field all game."
We know that Gipson was drafted to be the center-fielder, and not give up big plays as the last line of defense. But he's essentially saying that he wasn't even given a chance to make those plays. All offseason we heard about how Gipson added a "veteran presence" and how his speed and ball skills were something the defense hasn't seen a lot of during Bradley's tenure. From this particular quote though, rather than being put in an attacking position within the scheme to create interceptions, it looks like Gipson was essentially a preventer, and was just asked to minimize the risk of big plays. This is Wash's hallmark philosophy of course, but it's a terrible look when your free safety basically says that he wasn't put in a position to make plays.
Gipson's defining trait, his ball skills, were not even used in the scheme, according to this quote.
"I know that Dave will bring the right guys in. I'm excited for what's to come."
What's also peculiar from this interview is that Gipson knows that "Dave will bring the right guys in". Of course, he could be saying that because Caldwell is his boss, but it's interesting that Gipson still has faith in Dave. I wonder if the other players in the locker room share that sentiment, and if they are as excited about the future of this organization as Gipson indicates he is. Just food for thought.
And now for the money quote...
"I call myself the babysitter, I save touchdown runs."
What Gipson is implying is that he was essentially a fail safe. What I mean is that Gipson was hardly ever asked to make a play, but rather prevent it. A babysitter is asked to take care of a child; Gipson is asked to take care of the defense should a big play occur.
"For me, it's about getting more opportunities, selfishly, it's about more opportunities."
From this we can agree that Gipson thinks the scheme didn't take advantage of his talents to make plays. Instead, the scheme put him in a bad positions throughout the game, and prevented him from getting opportunities. NFL players are inherently selfish -- it's how you have to think if you want to thrive in the NFL -- but make no mistake, this is not about Gipson making excuses. Rather this is about Gipson commenting on the poor scheme run by Todd Wash and Gus Bradley and how he was miscast within it.
What makes this different from Ramsey's rant is that Ramsey was still asked to cover the opponent's No. 1 receiver, while Gipson was just asked to sit back and prevent the big play. I think that Gipson was expecting a more nuanced and sophisticated approach to the free safety position, rather than a "sit back and prevent the deep ball" approach.
There are a lot of other elements to unpack though, and I'm not sure we'll ever get the answers to some of them. What did Gus and Dave tell Gipson when he signed here? Did the scheme change from the offseason? What exactly was the "research" that Gipson did before signing here?
We only have an answer to the last question, per Brent Martineau.
Gipson admitted to not doing research. Free agency happens fast so doesn't surprise me he didn't. It's all about money. I get it.— Brent Martineau (@BrentASJax) January 2, 2017
The Gipson rant is a fitting end to the 2016 season. What started out as a optimistic season soon turned into a dark and tense one, as there were multiple clashes between the fans and the players. From what it looks like, there was far more going on inside the building than most of us expected. Here's hoping to a completely new coaching staff in the offseason and a competitive 2017.