Where it’s Andrew, Dewey, Thor or Kid Rock, Jacksonville Jaguars safety Andrew Wingard has plenty of nicknames to go around, but the focus today isn’t on the nicknames, or the hair — which is another conversation entirely — but of his opportunity to take the next step, another opportunity to succeed.
In 2019, Wingard told me in an exclusive interview that each step he takes is simply a false horizon, getting to the mountain top, the peak, he’s going to keep going and going until there’s no where further to go.
“I still want to make this team. Another false horizon,” Wingard said in 2019. “I wanna ball out on special teams. Next horizon. I want to become a starter, I wanna be a pro bowler — I’m never stopping, I’m always gonna keep going until I hit whatever’s above the sky.”
Against the Titans, Wingard will earn just his third start since joining the team as an undrafted free agent in 2019.
The primary starter, Jarrod Wilson, was placed on the team’s reserve/injured list earlier this week due to a hamstring injury. With that, Wingard will likely have multiple opportunities to showcase his talents.
“It’s a great opportunity,” Wingard said on Friday via video conference call. “It’s something that I’ve worked towards and it’s just kind of a culmination of my body of work. I come into work every day, I know my role. [I’m] ready to go whether it’s playing special teams and being able to come on the field in relief or, like it is now, going out and starting and being able to execute and play a good football game.”
Last Sunday, Wingard played in relief of Wilson, and made the most of his 13 snaps on defense, absolutely. With the Jaguars up by four with 4:32 remaining in the fourth quarter against the Indianapolis Colts, Wingard jumped in front of a dart of a pass from Phillip Rivers intended for second-year receiver Parris Campbell to give Jacksonville the ball back.
The play and route in question was a “W-sphere,” Wingard said. A W-sphere is essentially when the slot receiver runs a deep over-route, exactly what Wingard and his position coach, Joe Danna was expecting.
WINgard.@deweywingard | #DUUUVAL— #DUUUVAL (@Jaguars) September 13, 2020
: 9/20 at 1pm on CBS pic.twitter.com/FwGHqvI09Q
“It was kind of crazy how that happened because I had seen that play a couple times and right when I got out there, even when I was lining up pre-snap, I kind of knew the route was coming,” Wingard recalled. “Then Philip [Rivers] kind of stared it down the whole time. When he threw it, I was kind of like, ‘Holy cow, he’s actually throwing this right now’ and it was just a jump out there and catch it and go the other way.”
Wingard caught the interception and the rest is history. The Jaguars would go down to push the lead to seven, taking valuable time off the clock and forcing the Colts to score a touchdown or lose.
“It was super exciting though. I kind of ran around like a chicken with my head cut off, [I] didn’t really know what to do [because] I was so excited. But it was great to come out there and, like I said, that’s film study, that’s preparation and making it happen on game day. So, [I’m] super excited and ready to keep it going.”
Later today, Wingard will have an opportunity to prove himself once more against one of the team’s most challenging opponents in the Tennessee Titans. The Jaguars, of course, have not won in Nashville since 2013, something the team hopes to change.
“They’re pretty big, but they get on their knee at night and pray to the same God we do,” Wingard said about the matchup against Tennessee.
“So, we’re going to go out there and we’re going to give our best football and try to go ball out. But don’t get me wrong, like you said, it’s going to be a great challenge. They have a really good team coming off an AFC Championship run last year. They’re a really good team, [I] have a lot of respect for them. It’s going to be a heck of a challenge and we’re looking forward to it.”