There's a ring to it: Linebacker Damien Wilson said the team's attitude is to win championships
Wilson earned a Super Bowl ring with Kansas City, said the Jaguars are closer than people think
Damien Wilson has started in two the last two Super Bowls for the Kansas City Chiefs and has a gaudy, diamond-laden ring for winning one of them — one of only three players on the Jaguars active roster with one of the precious baubles.
So after OTAs, mandatory minicamp and seven days of training camp – the most recent one on Tuesday when the Jaguars practiced in full pads for the first time – Wilson should have a good handle on the talent level around him and how it compares to the Chiefs teams of the last two years.
He said the gap isn’t as large as some might believe.
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“I see guys all over the field out there who really want to win,” he said after Tuesday’s practice. “We have the talent. I believe we have the coaching. We just need the experience. I do believe we really can cause some damage. Our goal is a championship and anything short of that is a failure.”
Wilson, whose M.O. during a six-year NFL career has been a physical run-stopper, showed his versatility on the first padded practice day.
Bouncing around from the inside to the outside, playing both sides, blitzing and dropping back into coverage, the 6-foot, 260-pounder from Minnesota had two quarterback pressures during one period in which the offense went against a variety of blitzes, knocked a pass from Gardner Minshew to tight end Tyler Davis to the ground during a 7-on-7 period and dropped in coverage quickly enough to force the quarterback to look elsewhere several times during a “third-down” team period.
Wilson also was with a gaggle of defenders who forced Devine Ozigbo out of bounds for a loss on a running play.
In coordinator Joe Cullen’s defense, which calls for every player to be versatile enough to slide between positions and techniques, Wilson is fitting like, well, a perfectly-sized ring.
“Damien’s doing a really good job for us and the thing you like about Damien is he is so versatile,” said inside linebackers coach Charlie Strong. “I can play him at [strongside] backer and he can play inside at [middle and weakside] so what we’re doing is just moving him around. Great attitude and the good thing about him coming in from Kansas City — he has won ... so the guys have a lot of respect for him.”
Wilson called the defense “linebacker-friendly.”
“The scheme is similar to what I played in Kansas City,” he said. “The verbiage and terminology are different but at the end of the day, football is football. We’ve got some big, strong guys up front that can keep us free. It will be hard for an [offensive] lineman to get to us.”
He’s enjoying his relationships with the boisterous Cullen and the more professorial Strong. While both have different approaches, Wilson said he can work either way.
“Joe is a yeller," Wilson said. "But to be honest, he kind of reminds me of my old coach that I had at Dallas, Rod Marinelli. So, those guys are awfully similar. Charlie’s a teacher. He wants to sit you down and break it down for you, so you’re learning a lot of details.”
Wilson also is building a strong bond with the two players ahead of him on the depth chart, Joe Schobert on the inside and Myles Jack on the outside.
Wilson is competing but he also has enormous respect for Schobert and Jack.
“They’re both true professional guys,” Wilson said. “They have different personalities but they have a common goal. They’re about winning. They want to bring glory to this organization and give fans something to cheer about on Sundays, and I want to do that too.”
Wilson was signed as a free agent by the Chiefs after spending four years in Dallas. He had four tackles during Kansas City’s 31-20 victory over San Francisco in the 2020 Super Bowl, and led the Chiefs with 10 tackles, perhaps the lone defensive bright spot in last season’s 31-9 loss to Tampa Bay.
He signed a one-year contract worth $2 million with the Jaguars on April 2 — in a sense going from first to worst in the AFC.
While the NFL is built for parity, it might be far-fetched to believe that last year’s 1-15 Jaguars team can improve enough to be a playoff contender.
Wait and see, Wilson advises.
“You guys will see that first game when we come out against Houston," he said. "Coach [Urban Meyer], he’s been saying it, maybe a thousand times now. We’re not really here to get runner-up or just win the division. Everyone here wants a championship. That’s why we play the game, that’s what we’re playing for.”