Every year, there’s always one surprise player who regresses from the previous year. Over the course of the next several weeks, I’m going to identify a few Jacksonville Jaguars players I think are prime candidates for a regression. The first candidate may surprise you a little.
Now don’t get me wrong — Campbell is perhaps the best free agent signing in franchise history for what he did this year alone. He was a Defensive Player of the Year snub, and there’s no doubt Calais had a lot to do with the culture change Tom Coughlin and Doug Marrone envisioned.
However, despite 14.5 sacks on the year, Calais did not record a single sack during the final five games of the season. What’s more, 9.0 of his 14.5 sacks came in four games combined against the Houston Texans and Indianapolis Colts.
His body began to break down as the season wore on, sustaining injuries in the final weeks of the regular season and against the New England Patriots that made him less than his usual effective self. He barely registered an impact against the Pittsburgh Steelers and withdrew from the Pro Bowl because of his injury.
Granted, Calais was perhaps the most dominant player on the field against the Buffalo Bills and single-handedly wrecked their offensive game plan. But if you look at the season overall, Campbell definitely declined as the season wore on. And I’m not so sure we can count on him to be the game wrecking force he was next year.
Luckily, the Jaguars have the depth to offset Campbell’s decline if it does occur. Dante Fowler was more productive than we thought possible and Dawuane Smoot will likely improve, drawing more snaps away from Campbell who registered 801 snaps — over 77% of the team’s defensive snaps in 2017.
Although no one wants to see a player as beloved as Calais regress, the Jaguars fortunately have some pieces in place to offset this in case it does occur. And while he may “regress” in terms of production, I think he will still be impactful for this Jaguars defense with less snaps, especially early in the season.
All that said — I’d much prefer to look like an idiot in seven months when Calais goes off for three or four sacks against Tom Brady on Monday Night Football.