Ravens cannot overlook the 1-5 Jacksonville Jaguars this Monday night... the Jags are better than their record. And ex-Raven Dawan Landry will have something to say about the outcome from his safety position before the night is done...
Landry takes down Titans' QB Matt Hasselbeck in the September 11, 2011 game against Tennessee...
The Jaguars are a classic case of being better than their record appears.
Besides one game, a 32-3 loss to the New York Jets in Week 2, Jacksonville has been in every game this season, creating a feeling that they could pull off a win at any time, including Monday night against the favored Ravens.
“If it were horseshoes or hand grenades, we’d be all right,” Jaguars Head Coach Jack Del Rio joked. “We’ve been close. We haven’t been making the plays to win, but there’s no question in our minds that we’ve had our opportunities and had our moments; we just haven’t made enough plays.”
Jacksonville had a chance to knock off the Steelers in Pittsburgh last week. After falling in a 17-point hole, the Jaguars had a chance to win the game with one minute, one second remaining in regulation. They ended up getting one Hail Mary pass, which was batted down, resulting in a 17-13 loss.
The week before, Jacksonville had a four-point lead over the Cincinnati Bengals at the two-minute warning. The Bengals scored 10 points, including seven on a fumble return for a touchdown, to close out a 30-20 win.
The Jaguars were down only 10 points to New Orleans heading into the fourth quarter in Week 4. They had a five-point halftime lead against Carolina in Week 3.
Jacksonville’s lone win this season came against the Tennessee Titans, the team that handed the Ravens their lone loss.
“They could easily be 5-1 right now,” Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh said. “So, that’s the kind of team they are.”
Ravens defensive end Cory Redding, who played on the winless Detroit Lions in 2008, knows what it’s like to go through a losing streak. He said players start to try to do something extra to make a play, which can both help and hurt. “It can get bad,” Redding said.
But former Ravens safety Dawan Landry, who went from a team that reached the playoffs three straight years, said it’s not tough on him.
“You know, [I'm] just coming to work each and every day, taking the winning approach,” he said. “At the same time, we lost a lot of those games by a few points – a play here, a play there, and we’re back in this.”
“I think the good thing is our guys understand the fact that we can play with anybody,” Del Rio added. “And for us, really [we're] just continuing to stick together and fight through this thing and find a way to make more plays and have more fun.”
Landry brought leadership and veteran safety experience — something that was lacking last year — to the Jaguars' secondary. He learned a lot of that as a player for the Baltimore Ravens, where he spent the first four years of his career. On Monday, Landry will face his old team as the Jaguars play host to the Ravens this week.
"Dawan's a smart safety, a sure tackler," Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio said. "He's come down and played some in our dime package and matched up on tight ends, and he's done a nice job for us. He's helped us defensively play at a much higher level. He's playing his role, his part within that."
Landry came into the league in an enviable position for a young player. Out of Georgia Tech, he joined the best defense in the NFL as a fifth-round draft pick. He studied under linebacker Ray Lewis, a seven-time All Pro selection, and learned from his infectious intensity. Even closer to Landry was Ed Reed, Baltimore's seven-time All-Pro safety, who taught Landry what it took to succeed away from the practice and game fields, too.
Landry started 14 games as a rookie in 2006 and made a career-high five interceptions. He started every game in his second year. But in 2008, Landry suffered a frightening spinal cord concussion in a game against the Browns and was placed on injured reserve after two games. He came back the next year to have another stellar season, ranking second on the team in tackles and tied for first in interceptions with four.
"I watched him grow as a young man to a man and really understand how to play this game and understand the business," Reed said of Landry. " ... I miss Dawan. Me and him had a bond here, a chemistry here that me and him knew what it takes to work for either safety to be great safeties. You have to be on the same page."
Reed noted the business is what took Landry away from Baltimore and out of Reed's sizable shadow. Landry said he took an open mind into the process but told the Baltimore media in a conference call, "it basically came down to financials." The Jaguars signed him to a five-year deal worth $27.5 million with $10.5 million guaranteed. Beyond the money, Landry also liked seeing the commitment Jacksonville was making to its defense as it also signed Paul Posluszny, Clint Session, Drew Coleman and Matt Roth in free agency.
"I looked at the offseason moves, looked at the team, and I wanted to be a part of it," Landry said.
They've all combined to clearly improve a defense that was ranked 28th in the NFL last year and now ranks eighth. Part of that change comes from a marked improvement in the defensive backfield, where Landry has made a point of bringing the things he learned in Baltimore. It was well received by a group that included mostly young players, in addition to veteran cornerback Rashean Mathis.
"I think the communication in the back end is so important so that everybody's on the same page, and the confidence they play with," Del Rio said of Landry. "He's a guy that plays with confidence. He knows what he's supposed to do. He knows the plays that he can make, and I think he kind of exudes confidence, and that rubs off on others."