JACKSONVILLE – Tashaun Gipson spoke Monday.
That made Day 4 of 2018 Jaguars Training Camp interesting – because if Gipson isn’t the most quotable player on the Jaguars’ defense, he’s not far off.
He may be the defense’s most motivated player, too, something he made clear Monday. Gipson during 15 minutes with the media laid out his personal and team goals for the season. They were as unsurprising as they were notable:
He wants the Jaguars defense to be better than last year’s unit that ranked second in the NFL in yards allowed, sacks, interceptions and takeaways. And he believes that will be the case.
“If anything, I envision us being more dominant,” the Jaguars’ starting free safety said after a two-and-a-half-hour practice at the Dream Finders Homes Practice Complex early Monday afternoon.
Gipson also wants to go to the Pro Bowl. He believes that will happen, too.
“It’s going to be a tragedy, man, if I don’t make the Pro Bowl,” Gipson said. “I’m telling you all that right now.”
The second part – the Pro Bowl part – may have been the most interesting part of Gipson’s 15 minutes Monday, but it had competition. He talked a lot about the Jaguars’ defense, calling the talent level “scary.” He also talked about the end of the AFC Championship Game.
While discussing the January loss to New England, he spoke of his role on a key third-and-18 play the Patriots converted in the fourth quarter. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady converted a first down with a pass to wide receiver Danny Amendola, who made the reception in front of Gipson.
“That play right there, I’d be lying to you if I said that didn’t keep me up all offseason,” he said. “I got lax, depending on the rush. Third-and-18 … there’s no way he’s going to get the ball out with our D-line. He (Brady) had a little more time. He made a great throw. Amendola made a great catch, and that was one of the turning points of the game.”
Gipson entered the game with a foot injury.
“I blame myself and myself only,” he said. “Like I’ve been saying, I don’t blame this on whatever foot injury I was dealing with. That’s a play, third-and-18, I’ve got to make. If I’m on the field, I’ve got to make it.
But where Gipson was best Monday was when he talked about his motivation.
You know how some people are vague when talking about goals? You know how some people might not want to publicly admit being hurt by a perceived snub?
Gipson ain’t those people.
While six Jaguars players were either directly voted to the game or sent as alternates, Gipson – who had four interceptions and was a key part of a secondary that finished with 18 of the team’s 21 interceptions – was not.
Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone thought at the time Gipson should have been named to the Pro Bowl, telling Gipson as much at the time and saying so publicly multiple times.
Gipson talked little about the topic last season, but said Monday it bothered him.
“Team goals are first, but I felt I put my best foot forward,” said Gipson, who made the Pro Bowl in 2014 with Cleveland. “For them to tell me I was a fourth or fifth alternate … you know, it was crushing. I want to put that out there: There aren’t that many safeties – damned sure not in the AFC – better than me.”
Gipson said Marrone’s support mattered.
“One thing about Coach Marrone – and we all know – he’s a straight shooter,” Gipson said. “Me of all people, he doesn’t need to kiss up to me. I’m just Tashaun Gipson, right? For him to say that and for it to come from a sincere place, it means a lot….
“He’s seen a lot of football and he’s seen a lot of good football players. It’s motivation at the end of the day, but to know my head coach believes in me meant a lot.”
Gipson on Monday mostly had the look you expect from him. A seventh-year veteran entering his third year in the system, you would expect him to feel comfortable in the defense. He left no doubt about that, even joking that meetings might be a little tedious at times.
“Don’t tell coach [defensive coordinator Todd] Wash that, though,” he said, laughing.
But make no mistake: Gipson’s not a guy to slack off in meetings. He’s one of the Jaguars’ most prepared players, and the football IQ of both him and strong safety Barry Church is key to what many believe is the NFL’s best secondaries.
Besides, you got the idea listening to Gipson Monday slacking won’t be an issue this season. He has a goal, after all, one he made clear Monday. That whole Pro Bowl thing?
That’s a tragedy he definitely wants to avert this time around.