The New England Patriots under head coach Bill Belichick run the tightest ship in the NFL. Rarely ever does one of the team’s players talk negatively about an opponent or people outside of the organization. This approach has served the team quite well over the years – the Patriots are far and away the most successful team in the league since Belichick took over – but it is not one copied throughout the league.
Enter the Jacksonville Jaguars and their star cornerback Jalen Ramsey. One of the most outspoken players in all of football, Ramsey does not shy away from expressing his opinions. He recently made headlines when he shared his feelings on some of the league’s starting quarterbacks, and two weeks later is at it again: in a recent portrait by ESPN’s Mina Kimes the 23-year old spoke about multiple players.
One of his favorite topics? The aforementioned Patriots, who eliminated Ramsey and the Jaguars from last year’s playoff tournament. The two teams’ meeting in the championship round was of course a thriller; one that saw New England erase a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter to punch their eighth Super Bowl ticket. According to Ramsey, however, the Patriots’ comeback was not just due to the team playing its best in the clutch.
“It was clear as day they wanted them to win,” the Jaguars’ defensive back said about the referees working the 2017 AFC Championship Game. While the officiating did not benefit Ramsey’s team, the notion that Jacksonville had to play against both the home team Patriots and the men in black and white is not one supported by how the rules were applied during the contest (correctly, that is).
Still, the All-Pro cornerback likes to talk about the game and the players participating in it. Speaking to Kimes he mentioned three players in particular: quarterback Tom Brady, wide receiver Danny Amendola, and tight end Rob Gronkowski. While he praised Brady – a player he classified as “doesn’t suck” in his interview about passers around the league –, Ramsey does apparently not feel the same way about the other two.
“He just got a brand-new contract and he is terrible,” Ramsey said about Amendola. The veteran wide receiver, who signed a two-year, $12.0 million deal with the Miami Dolphins this offseason, was arguably the second best offensive player on the field during the AFC’s title game last year: Amendola finished the game with 84 receiving yards on seven catches – among them the two touchdowns that gave New England the lead and victory.
Despite being a first-hand witness of Amendola’s effort, however, Ramsey does apparently not think that he is a good player. “People think he’s so great,” the fourth overall selection of the 2016 NFL draft said about the two-time Super Bowl champion – who he mixed up with Julian Edelman at one point during the interview. “No, he’s not. Tom [Brady] made him look good. Tom could take me as a receiver and I’d be a first-team All-Pro.”
Ramsey did not stop there. He also talked about the NFL’s best tight end, Gronkowski, and also called him overrated. “I don’t think Gronk’s good,” he said before backpedaling a bit. “Let me say – I don’t think Gronk is as great as people think he is.” As opposed to his assessment of Amendola, Ramsey offered why he does not think of Gronkowski the same way most people, coaches, and players inside and outside of the league do.
“Any time Gronk has been matched up with a corner, he’s had a very bad game – and that corner has had a very good game,” Ramsey argued. While Gronkowski has had comparatively quiet contests in the past when not going up solely against linebackers, he still usually did plenty of damage. Just take last year’s game against the Buffalo Bills, when standout rookie Tre’Davious White oftentimes played Gronkowski one-on-one.
While the battle was a competitive one that saw White get under Gronkowski’s skin, the future Hall of Famer still registered a season-high nine catches for 147 yards. White is no Ramsey (yet), sure, but he is still a very talented cornerback that had to see Gronkowski make play after play despite providing very good and physical coverage at times. The veteran tight end simply found a way to still be productive.
Whether the same will hold true on September 16, when the Patriots travel to Jacksonville, remains to be seen. But don’t be surprised if a) Gronkowski has another solid outing despite b) seeing plenty of Ramsey one-on-one. It’s just what he does – which is what makes him the NFL’s best player at his position, even though Jalen Ramsey does not think he is as good as others think he is.