In his first season in Jacksonville, Calais Campbell has had a Defensive Player of the Year caliber season. In fact, with his 14.5 sacks, he is a strong candidate to take home the award. He has been a crucial cog in leading one of the best defenses in the league in 2017. Along with fellow defensive end, Yannick Ngakoue, they combined for 27.5 sacks on a team that totaled 55 over the course of the season. Good for second best in the league.
“He has done it for a long time,” Patriots center David Andrews said on Campbell. ‘He has great ability, athletic ability. He is a big man – 6’7″, 300 pounds and has great length. Like I said, he has been doing it a long time and really knows how to play the game.”
“Campbell has great length,” Andrews added. “That can be a challenge in run blocking and pass blocking. Pass blocking, he has great extension and the same thing in run blocking, too. He can get his hands up and deflected a lot of balls in the pass game. To stop his rush, it is going to be a challenge. Like I said, they have all of those guys up front that can do all things very well. He has definitely been doing a lot this year for them in his 10th year.”
Campbell, a 10-year veteran, spent his first nine seasons in Arizona. He along with Ngakoue, Malik Jackson, and fellow newcomer Marcel Dareus make up the formidable line that has defined the Jaguars defense all season. The defense and team, in general, have quickly taken to the image that Tom Coughlin wanted to instill from the get-go. The one that helped the Giants beat the Patriots twice in the Super Bowl.
The two teams haven’t met in the regular season since 2015. The last time they squared off in the postseason, the Patriots snagged their 17th win in a row in the 2007 season. However, the Patriots were able to get more than a glimpse of Campbell and the Jaguars during joint practice sessions in the preseason. The Jaguars overall speed is something that stood out and has been evident throughout the season.
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“They are definitely a fast front,” said Andrews. “I think it is all relative in a sense. They do a great job getting off the ball. You can see when they are teed up ready to go on a passing down they are getting great jumps off the ball, especially the guys on the edge. They are doing a good job. Obviously, you have Malik [Jackson] and Calais [Campbell] inside in situations. They are doing a great job and they cause a lot of havoc. It is going to be a challenge for us”
If Campbell and the rest of the Jaguars defensive front can get pressure and disrupt Tom Brady without bringing extra rushers, it could be a long day for the defending champions. To this point, Jalen Ramsey’s proclamation notwithstanding, they have said and done all the right things. A direct reflection of Coughlin and head coach, Doug Marrone. Now, they must carry that mentality to the field on Sunday to have a shot.
“They say you have to beat the best to be the best so I can’t wait to get out there and try.”