Jalen Ramsey made A.J. Green so angry he got put into a choke hold. Is that his welcome to stardom moment?
Dating back to the days of Deion Sanders, shutdown cornerbacks all seem to have an arrival moment where their athletic ability publicly intersects with the cavalier attitude necessary to succeed at the position.
Whether that was Richard Sherman hollering at Tom Brady after a game (or proclaiming his superiority to Michael Crabtree), Darrelle Revis sending an entire coaching staff scrambling during a training camp holdout or Josh Norman turnbuckle tossing Odell Beckham during a Panthers-Giants game, the league’s most recognizable cornerbacks all seem to have that benchmark.
Jalen Ramsey had his last Sunday.
After getting far enough underneath the skin of Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green to necessitate a choke hold and punches, Ramsey doubled down on his methods during a conversation with reporters Wednesday.
“I told him almost every play that he was weak and he was soft,” Ramsey said, via the Florida Times-Union. “Them is straight facts, he just couldn't handle the truth, facts.
“I told him that his time is almost up. I told him it was easy, which it was. He had one catch for six yards. I was just out there spitting facts to him.”
Green had just one catch for six yards on the afternoon—an undeniable victory for Ramsey. And, as Sports Illustrated’s Andy Benoit pointed out Wednesday, he managed to expose an apparent softness in Green’s game that has been talked about by players around the league before. All this, for a 23-year-old with fewer than two seasons under his belt.
Ramsey had a stellar rookie season, but is arguably the best cover corner in football this year. Grading site Pro Football Focus has him No. 3 behind Marshon Lattimore and Jason McCourty, and one ahead of Philly corner Patrick Robinson. Paired with A.J. Bouye, they make up the backbone of Sacksonville, the league’s best passing defense and sack leaders.
As we discovered in Jonathan Jones’ recent piece about Julius Peppers, there seems to be a distinct fork in the road that star players hit during their NFL career. One road leads to cell phone service provider commercials, catch phrases and automatic fan recognition when it comes to Pro Bowl voting and merchandise sales. Another path leads to a more solitary football life. Ramsey, who has never been afraid of the spotlight, seems to have chosen his path. Like Sherman, Revis and Norman before him, the hard work has only just started. Now, everyone will want a piece.
Not getting this newsletter in your inbox yet? Join The MMQB’s Morning Huddle.
NOW ON THE MMQB: Andy Benoit gives us a look at his mid-season All-Pro team, while I tackle the mid-season All-Rookie lineup...Albert Breer gives us a rundown of the chaos on tap between commissioner Roger Goodell and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones...and much more.
LATER TODAY ON THE MMQB: Jenny Vrentas and Kayln Kahler bring us Football in America from Philadelphia ...We redraft the class of 2017... Benoit previews Thursday Night Football between the Cardinals and Seahawks
1. Anonymous criticism season comes to the NFL with vigor: ESPN reports that two Giants players have had enough with head coach Ben McAdoo.
2. A budding bromance simmers between Browns head coach Hue Jackson and oft-suspended wideout Josh Gordon. How can anything possibly go wrong?
3. Kyle Shanahan has been dodging questions about new quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo from seasoned 49er beat writers and also Shanahan’s wife.
4. This hasn't been the most enjoyable season for Colts head coach Chuck Pagano, and now cornerback Vontae Davis is expressing his unhappiness about a recent benching. I have a suggestion: Keep answering every question with “It's a coach's decision.” That'll keep the reporters off their feet.
5. Panthers quarterback and Titanic truther Cam Newton unleashed a new theory on the world Wednesday: Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has Benjamin Button disease.
6. Holy crap, remember Dion Jordan? The former No. 3 overall pick in the draft, who has not played an NFL snap since 2014 due to multiple violations of the league's performance-enhancing drug policy, is playing for the Seahawks tonight. Pete Carroll is the best.
7. T.J. Yates is getting some first-team reps in Houston. After almost half a decade with the Texans, Bill O'Brien's quarterback depth chart must look like Rust Cohle's storage unit in True Detective.
8. Are you the fan of an offensively inept football team? The gang at Pro Football Focus is already ranking the 2018 draft class' most efficient wide receivers. It's never too early for draft season.
9. Washington corner Josh Norman talks about the time he wanted to rip off Thomas Rawls' shoulder.
10. Andy Staples is asked about Lane Kiffin taking a Power 5 job in his latest mailbag. Why not just move to New York and coach the Giants? It's all falling into place.
Have a story you think we should include in tomorrow’s Press Coverage? Let us know here.
Initially believed to be the front runners in the “Suck for Sam” Darnold movement, the Jets are now being blindsided by...the Giants! These are the kinds of gifts only a town with two large tabloid newspapers deserves.
Question? Comment? Story idea? Let the team know at email@example.com