Unless you have been hiking the Appalachian Trail for the past year there is nothing about how Jalen Ramsey rates NFL quarterbacks that is new news. For those about to air their packs, shave their beards or shave their legs all you need is in last year’s GQ article. Pick your favorite quote:
On Josh Allen:
I think [Buffalo Bills draft pick Josh] Allen is trash. I don’t care what nobody say. He’s trash.
On Marcus Mariota:
I think Marcus Mariota is a great quarterback for their team.
On Jimmy Garoppolo:
...if you know how to work within your scheme then it means you’re good. I guess you could say he’s good.
On Dak Prescott:
Dak Prescott, he’s good. He’s alright. He’s okay. I’ll put it that way
On Blake Bortles:
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
On Nick Foles:
He won them a Super Bowl so he’s good enough to do that. 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.
On Drew Brees and Andrew Luck:
Drew Brees. I’m a fan of Drew Brees. I think Drew Brees really good, even at this age. He still runs. Everything. Andrew Luck—I don’t really think he’s that good.
There are many ways to approach Jalen’s intent when answering these questions.
Maybe he was focused on grading the quarterbacks based on style of play. He appears to favor quarterbacks who can make plays with their legs (he feels the Baltimore Ravens Lamar Jackson should have been drafter before the Bills Allen). He also recognizes a quarterback’s ability to leverage the talent around him, without necessarily elevating their play to elite should be considered.
Maybe he was simply being competitive. The man likes to talk on the field so why should we expect anything different when interviewed as a cornerback for the Jacksonville Jaguars? This opens the door for further questions about how he uses language. Does he believe what he is saying, or is this simply player talk? For we, the fan, to assume a context of privilege at the player level is a problem. We interpret this with the mind of the fan, and the players do so from years of on-field context. I have a friend who consistently laments Jalen’s player persona because of what he, a fan, prefers.
Or maybe this is the voice of a confident, albeit immature, player. Ramsey’s social media persona is one of a proud, responsible and loving parent. Media close to Jalen, primarily local media, have commented on his personality differences. The brash on-field person is not the same man when the helmet is off. This is not shocking. Surely many reading will say who they are at work is nothing like who they are at home.
To the question of football maturity, Jalen has answered this question. On Adam Schefter’s podcast he was asked if he has any thoughts about NFL quarterbacks prior to the 2019 season. It was a fair question considering the past, and from an entertainment perspective it’s just smart interviewing. Ramsey’s response:
You want to do this again, huh? I’m not going to do this again, but we do play some good quarterbacks this year, of course, but probably the quarterback I’m most excited for is Nick Foles, I don’t have to play against him, of course. He is my teammate. He is a great teammate -- the few interactions we’ve had has been great. Great man, great player as well. He has nothing to prove to anybody. He’s a Super Bowl champion, Super Bowl MVP. So I hope he comes out here and he plays free and knows he has the support of everybody.
He further added:
I’m growing, man, it’s Year 4 for me. It’s a different me. A lot of people think they know me. They don’t really know me. But hey, that’s OK.
Ramsey further clarified how he plans to handle himself this year via twitter.
Ramsey took a lot of flack for the GQ interview, and justifiably so. Saying someone “sucks”, even if done in the context of competitive banter, is far from professional. It, whether fair or not, is a reflection on the player, coach and team. The spotlight gravitated from Jalen to Doug Marrone, with questions being asked about what control Doug had over the clubhouse and players. When the Jaguars 2018 season began to unravel, Ramsey’s comments were redefined against not only his and the team’s play, but also against his own quarterback.
The maturity question became an even greater focus with the team imploding in London and Leonard Fournette losing his focus in Buffalo. A game in which the Jaguars were in the throes of taking complete control of the game, and instead walked away in defeat.
Articles have been written, and tweets have been sent, expressing positions on whether Jalen Ramsey is long as Jaguars player. Some say he is not worth the grief, citing his immaturity and even saying his performance does not warrant a new contract. The latter seems a position hard to defend, especially if you consider the respect given him throughout the league. I would also cite last year’s December Indianapolis Colts game, where an injured Ramsey was easily the best player on the field, leading the Jaguars to a 6-0 victory over the playoff bound, Andrew Luck led Colts.
To the grief question, when a player tweets out how a fan base is going to miss him, one has to question where his head is and respect how it can be negatively consumed.
The Jaguars appear to have the talent, but they lack the mental strength to repeat the beauty that was 2017. Adding Nick Foles to the roster was a step forward not only in talent but also in leadership. The offense has nowhere to go but up with Nick at the wheel.
What the Jaguars need is for Jalen Ramsey to be the leader they have in Calais Campbell, and that starts with recognizing how to perform both on and off the field. For those questioning where his head is, his comments to Schefter are a big step forward. To those who relish his cocky persona, that he wants to “keep my foot on the chest” reminds us how high of a bar he sets for himself.
Jalen does not need to say what he thinks of quarterbacks. All he needs is to prove it on the field.