Jags’ Griffin on defense: ‘We are definitely better than last year’

The Jacksonville Jaguars had a hard time getting turnovers last season. Jacksonville’s defense was last in takeaways in 2021.

As they enter this season, the defense, led by new defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell, hopes to improve and create more turnovers. 

According to corner Shaquill Griffin, the defense’s goal is to lead the league in interceptions.

“I guarantee it’s going to be way better than last year,” Griffin said Monday about getting more interceptions. “The goal is to lead the whole NFL. I’m taking it definitely a point to myself to make sure I have every opportunity. I might not get the most opportunities on the defense, but opportunities I do get, I want to make sure I make the best of them. That’s everything I continue to say. I’m still out here trying to catch footballs every day. But it starts with me. That’s how I feel. Every time I make a play, I feel like it’s someone else getting a pick. I think about the first pick of the camp I get one day, you got Benjie [Franklin] getting one, and then I get another pick the day, and then you come back Rudy Ford have to pick it. You got to start with somebody. I feel like picks come in bunches, but someone’s got to get the first one. I definitely put that on myself. It will be better this year. I definitely think we will double. But the goal is to be the best in NFL.”

In this year’s draft, the Jaguars grabbed OLB Travon Walker with the number one overall pick. In addition, they grabbed another linebacker late in the first round when they selected Devin Lloyd at 27. Furthermore, they got some secondary help with the acquisition of corner Darious Williams in free agency. 

Griffin believes that the Jaguars’ defense will be much better in 2022.

“We are definitely better than last year, just the way we’ve been attacking the ball, for one,” he said. “The way we communicate, and our communication is so much better; the trust is so much better. Then you see the D-line running around. There are so many times where when we get to the ball; they’re already sacked before the ball even came out. So that shows a lot. I feel like one thing about it our defense is moving a lot faster. Our defense is well conditioned. Defense is talking a lot more. Our defense trusts each other a lot more than last year, and that’s why we’re a bit different than last year.”

Notes:

Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson announced on Tuesday that quarterbacks Trevor Lawrence and C.J. Beathard would not play in the team’s preseason opener on Thursday against the Raiders(Hall of Fame Game) in Canton, Ohio.

Jake Luton will get the start.

“I can tell you Trevor(Lawrence) is not going to play,” Pederson said. “C.J. Beathard, with the injury is not going to play, and really the decision for that, too, has been Trevor has been getting a lot of great looks here in practice, and we feel like he’s in a good spot. And, and so we’re going to make those decisions this afternoon, tell our team later on today, so we can prepare for the game.”

Jags’ Lawrence is impressed by Travon Walker, says team has trust this season

Coming into the 2021 NFL season, there was some excitement in Jacksonville as the Jaguars drafted quarterback Trevor Lawrence with the number one overall pick, and they hired Urban Meyer, who is one of the greatest coaches in college football history.

However, Meyer made mistake after mistake and was fired 13 games into his first season as an NFL head coach. Enter a Super Bowl-winning head coach in Doug Pederson, who hopes to turn things around.

Things were bad in Jacksonville last season, and according to Lawrence, the players did not trust the coaching staff.

“I think that’s the biggest thing in a team is just trusting each other, trusting the guys in the locker room but also the staff,” Lawrence said after the first day of voluntary OTAs on Monday. “That’s something; clearly, we didn’t have a lot of last year, so I mean, I think our locker room did a great job last year of staying together. But it’s cool to see him [Head Coach Doug Pederson] make that a priority, and he knows and understands that that is definitely something that we have to make sure that we have in this building. I do think we’re building that, and I mean from everything I’ve seen, everyone’s trusting one another, really just going to work, and preparing ourselves.”

Lawrence is trying to build on a rookie season that saw some ups and downs. At this point, Pederson is looking for the second-year quarterback to continue to improve.

“[We] just want to see that growth in him here as we sort of wind down the offseason and gear up for training camp,” Pederson said. “But he’s been focused, he’s been here, he’s been attentive, he’s done a good job on the football field, he’s a leader, and those are the things we want to continue now as we head into training camp.”

Jacksonville again had the number one overall pick this season, and they selected OLB/DE Travon Walker out of Georgia, who has impressed Lawrence.

“He looks the part for sure,” Lawrence said. “Just really his demeanor, I enjoy being around him “[He’s] a really calm guy, humble, hard worker. Then obviously, you see him, and you see why he’s the number one pick and all that. But just his personality, I’m excited to get to know him more. I think that’s kind of the type of personality that I gel with, so I’m excited to get to know him. I think he’s going to be a great player for us.”

Jacksonville continues OTAs: May 24, May 26, May 31-June 1, June 3, June 6-9.

Walker is excited to focus on one position in Jacksonville

The Jacksonville Jaguars had the number one overall pick in the NFL Draft for the second year in a row. Last season, they went offense and grabbed QB Trevor Lawrence. This season, they went defense as they selected former Georgia DE Travon Walker.

The Jaguars are hoping to strengthen a defense that was 27th in the NFL in sacks last season and is hoping that Walker, whose versatility allowed him played various positions on the defensive line at Georgia, can help improve the pass rush.

In Jacksonville, Walker will be able to focus on one position, which will probably be defensive end. and he believes that will help him be better on the next level.

“Just to all the people that say that I can’t pass rush or do whatever I didn’t, wasn’t as productive at Georgia,” Walker said at his introductory press conference on Friday. “I’ve never really just played one position consistently, so I feel like I’ll be able to grow as a player once I just focus on one main position…

 “I see myself playing on the edge, five-technique, anything on the outside on the edge. At Georgia, I was just, like you said, I always told my coaches I’d do anything to get on the field, so therefore, I played everything from a zero nose all the way out to a nine, wide, six technique.”

Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson added on Walker: “As Travon alluded to, put him in one spot and let him grow in one spot. And obviously, there is versatility, so as we grow with him and as he understands what we’re doing schematically, we can move him around the defense just a little bit. But it’s just a matter of getting him in here, getting him acclimated, getting him around the teammates, and getting him started with the defense. Really solidify him in one spot and let him grow in one spot.”

Walker will see some familiar faces in Jacksonville, including Lawrence and his former Georgia teammate, corner Tyson Campbell.

“I’d have to say I’m pretty close with Trevor Lawrence,” he said. “I’ve known him ever since high school, so I feel like he’ll be somebody who takes me under his wing. I came on my top-30 visit; he was working out, he ran up to me, so I just feel like we already have that bond. I have Tyson Campbell here as well to help me.”

Walker, who had a career-high six sacks last season at Georgia, says the best advice he received was to be himself, which he discussed Friday.

“They just tell me to be myself,” Walker said. “They tell me to stay humble like I’ve always been, and they know I’m a hard worker. I’m a person who’s going to give it my all. They just tell me to be who I always have been.”

Jacksonville was 28th in points allowed in 2021, and they focused on defense in the first round. The Jaguars grabbed for Utah LB Devin Lloyd with the 27th overall pick. The team hopes that Walker and Lloyd can help improve make their defense more formidable in 2022 and beyond.