Dawan Landry is without a doubt the biggest splash the Jaguars made in free agency. He'll start right off the bat, and he's expected to improve a secondary that was bad at best in 2010. With so much improvement expected, it's easy to let our expectations get the best of us. That's something that shouldn't happen.
In all reality, the Jaguars should field an average defense in 2011, and I really think the defense this season will be much improved from last year. Derek Cox and Rashean Mathis are fairly solid corners, but the Jaguars' biggest problem in the secondary had nothing to do with those two players. The Jaguars failed to field solid defenders deep, and that hurt the entire defense.
With so many unknowns going into this season, I thought it would be a good time to get an inside perspective about the Jaguars' newest safety. That's why I asked BaltimoreBeatDown.com's manager, Bruce Raffel about what he thought about the Ravens' former safety. Here's what he had to say:
"Looking at former Baltimore Ravens strong safety, Dawan Landry, one would expect him to be the type of hitter that would 'lay the wood' to opposing players, as Landry is as chiseled as any safety in the NFL. However, ever since he sustained a concussion that forced him to miss most of the 2008 season, he has not been the same guy. At the same time, he had four interceptions in 2009 and combined for 111 tackles in 2010, both impressive stats. One must take into the fact that when you play safety alongside of Ed Reed and in front of Ray Lewis, other teams do not necessarily notice you, much less look where you are positioned prior to the snap. Playing in Ed or Ray's shadows have earned nice statistical seasons and ultimately rich paydays for many a Ravens player, only to have them return to mediocrity and anonymity once they no longer have them around to attract all the attention. Don't get me wrong, Dawan has some decent skill sets and should make the defense around him better, but just don't expect a star Ravens player to lead your defense."
Certainly, those words should serve to keep any over-the-top expectations at bay. As for the payday Landry is receiving, Tania Ganguli of the Florida Times-Union said via twitter that it is a 5 year 27.5 million dollar deal with 10.5 million guaranteed.
It's one thing to keep expectations reasonable, but we do have to realize, expect, and embrace that Landry will make an impact on the Jaguars' defense. This is a solid player that the Jaguars are getting. That sentiment was echoed by RavensFootballMachine.com's Thomas Jackson. Here's exactly how he put it:
"Dawan Landry is a strong safety who was drafted in the 5th round of the NFL Draft in 2006 out of Georgia Tech by the Ravens. Dawan's rookie season for the Ravens saw him earn a starting spot in the defensive secondary alongside fellow safety Ed Reed. Dawan had a stellar rookie season, standing out on the league's #1 ranked Defense by collecting 69 tackles, 3 sacks, 6 passes defensed, and 5 interceptions for 101 yards and one touchdown. From there he went on to record several solid seasons of pass and run defense at safety for the Ravens, interrupted only by the 2008 season, where he suffered a spinal concussion injury against Cleveland, and missed most of that year. In the 2009 season, he had a great comeback year, posting career highs in tackles with 89, and passes defensed with 8. He also led the team in interceptions with 4, returning one for a 48 yard touchdown. He continued his strong pattern of play in 2010 with over 100 tackles and solid coverage in the defensive backfield. In his own quiet way, Landry has been as much a part of the vaunted Ravens' defense as Ray Lewis or Ed Reed... Landry simply does not get the publicity he deserves when compared to Lewis or Reed."
Believe me, the Jaguars will field an improved team, especially on defense, but let's keep our expectations away from believing that the Jaguars will be fielding a defense on par with the Ravens, Jets, and Steelers.