Maybe it should have been a telling sign when the Super Bowl champions made no effort to re-sign him. Or maybe this is a clear illustration of a cornerback’s best friend being consistent pressure on the quarterback. But whatever the case may be, the bottom line is that new Jaguars CB Aaron Ross is the latest in a line of free agents signed by GM Gene Smith that simply isn’t panning out.
Ross’ performance — and especially late in the fourth quarter — in the Week Seven loss to the Raiders sunk Jacksonville’s chances of earning a win it desperately needed coming out of the bye, and is symptomatic of his struggles overall since coming to Jacksonville.
With Jacksonville clinging to a one-touchdown lead with less than four minutes to play, the Raiders faced a 3rd-and-10 at the Jaguars' 25-yard line. Ross got perfect inside position on rookie WR Rod Streater in the endzone, before timing his jump well and appearing to highpoint the ball for what should have been an interception. Instead, Ross failed to secure the ball. One play later, he was flagged for pass interference, clearly dragging down WR Darrius Heyward-Bey in the endzone. The Raiders would tie the game on the next play and go on to win on their first possession of overtime.
Ross, ineffective both outside and in the slot this season, paired with an aging and less than 100 percent Rashean Mathis, has led to numerous issues in the secondary in Jacksonville, where only Derek Cox, when healthy, has been a consistent performer.
Enter sixth-rounder Mike Harris, forced into action in Week Seven after a struggling Mathis went down with a groin injury. Harris held up surprisingly well given his lack of experience, breaking up a pair of fourth-quarter pass attempts down the seam to FB Marcel Reece, who is three inches taller and about 60 pounds heavier than the rookie.
We hear the impressive showing by Harris, who was confident and ready to make the most of his opportunity, is an encouraging sign for a club that has had few up until this point. It remains to be seen, though, if it will lead to more opportunities in the near future, with Mathis expecting to play Sunday and Ross signing a three-year deal worth up to $15 million in the offseason.