If there is one thing casual NFL fans know about Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey, it’s that he likes to talk smack. These are two different headlines from The Ringer in 2016 and 2017, respectively: “Jalen Ramsey Won’t Stop Talking,” and “Jalen Ramsey Is the NFL’s Most Relentless Trash Talker.” In 2018, nothing has changed for the Florida State product; in fact, his verbal punches have become heavier. Ramsey has brought his shit-talking to the league’s most scrutinized role: quarterback.
Quarterback is the NFL’s most recognized position, though as Washington Redskins corner Josh Norman told my colleague Kevin Clark, they’re paid disproportionately higher than players at other positions, which is how a sentient inflatable tube man like Brock Osweiler ends up with more career earnings than Cameron Heyward, Chris Harris, Mark Ingram, or Kam Chancellor. There are, to put it bluntly, some quarterbacks who suck that have made a lot of money.
In an interview with GQ published Wednesday, Ramsey offered candid takes on a plethora of starting quarterbacks, including a fresh batch of rookies. In a few breaths, he sang the praises of Baker Mayfield and Lamar Jackson (they do look good!), while positing that Buffalo’s new gunslinger, Josh Allen, “is trash” with a “big arm, supposedly” (1,000 percent yes!).
The whole interview is worth a read—Ramsey also touches on his innate confidence, how the Jags weaponize his shit-talk on media days, and the league’s new anthem rule—but if you want to get right down to the QB spice, here’s how he breaks down the NFL’s current signal-callers, along with our takes on whether his assessments are valid.
Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers: Ramsey said they do not suck and are, in fact, good.
Our Take: Well, yes.
Tyrod Taylor and Marcus Mariota: Ramsey said both QBs are good for what their teams ask of them, which is to be “in position to be in the game late” and limit the turnovers.
Our Take: Elite game managers deserve love, too! (Ramsey doesn’t cover Alex Smith in the interview, but he’s also cut from that clock-managing mold. Either that or my sullen Redskins fandom has skewed my objectivity for Smith, my new 34-year-old son.)
Mariota has generally been warmly received by Titans fans, so it’s Ramsey’s Taylor praise that really resonates. Taylor was never treated fairly by the Bills, who, in a tight divisional race, nearly threw away their chance at their first playoff appearance in over a decade by starting Nathan Peterman against the San Diego Chargers. Reminder: Peterman threw five interceptions on 14 pass attempts. Taylor has the lowest interception rate in NFL history (on a minimum of 1,000 attempts). As Ramsey said, “That’s really all you need, especially if you get a good defense.”
Jimmy Garoppolo and Jared Goff: Ramsey believes these quarterbacks’ successes comes from the schemes devised for them.
Our Take: This is tricky, given that both players have started fewer than 24 games, but he could have a point. Sean McVay’s schemes allowed Goff to thrive with the L.A. Rams after a forgettable, Jeff Fisher–led rookie season, while Kyle Shanahan just needed a quarterback in San Francisco that knew how to throw a football, and he certainly acquired one in Jimmy G.
Would either QB still be effective when removed from these schemes? Maybe; maybe not. But per Ramsey, “If you know how to work within your scheme then it means you’re good.”
Deshaun Watson and Carson Wentz: Ramsey said Watson and Wentz will be competing for league MVPs for the next five to 10 years.
Our Take: Deshaun Watson was so integral to my fantasy football team last year that I considered preparing a Viking funeral for my laptop when he went down with an ACL tear. Meanwhile, Carson Wentz might be in the most favorable position in the league, and his arm’s a rocket. Once again, Ramsey is spot-on.
Dak Prescott: “He’s alright. He’s OK. I’ll put it that way. [Ezekiel Elliott] runs that team though.”
Our Take: It’s also a lot easier to play quarterback in the NFL when you have one of the best offensive lines in the league to go with an elite running back. Without Elliott, the Dallas Cowboys had one of the worst offenses in the league. This also checks out.
Kirk Cousins: “I think he’s good. I think he’s a winner. He’s a hell of a competitor. Coming off the play-action, he’s the best quarterback in the league.”
Our Take: The wounds are still open from Cousins’s departure from Washington. Please, I need to move on.
Eli Manning, Andrew Luck, and Ben Roethlisberger: As with Prescott, Ramsey believes Manning, Luck, and Big Ben’s successes are tied to Odell Beckham Jr., T.Y. Hilton, and Antonio Brown, respectively. “I won’t say Eli’s good, I’ll say Odell’s good,” he said before drawing similar parallels between Big Ben and Brown as well as Luck and Hilton.
Our Take: [Hides from the Giants fans swarming my office, led by a resilient and semi-Twitter-savvy Mike Francesa] Yes, Eli sucks now. He’ll always have those two Super Bowls. Ben Big is washed, and Andrew Luck may no longer have an arm.
Derek Carr and Russell Wilson: Because Ramsey was literally going through his phone and picking out quarterbacks at random, he barely touches on Wilson and Carr, but said they are both good.
Our Take: Wilson is most certainly good, despite his offensive line being made of papier-mâché. Carr, on the other hand, just led a seemingly Super Bowl–primed Raiders team to a 6-10 record and had as many interceptions as Manning, Prescott, and Joe Flacco, so, while he’s not bad, he might not be worth the massive cap hit once his five-year, $125 million deal goes into effect.
Joe Flacco: “Flacco sucks.”
Our Take: Flacco is more putrid than week-old Maryland crab cakes on a humid summer afternoon. Yes.
Nick Foles: “He won them a Super Bowl so he’s good enough to do that.”
Our Take: Considering Foles almost retired from football before signing as the Eagles’ backup, Ramsey seems to be shorting the Super Bowl MVP. The Philly Special! Outdueling Tom freakin’ Brady. Nick Foles might be the best backup in the league*.
*This opinion has nothing to do with the frankly intimidating, outsize Eagles influence at The Ringer.
Drew Brees: “I’m a fan of Drew Brees. I think Drew Brees really good, even at this age.”
Our Take: There’s nothing to debate here, but I looked up Brees’s age and can’t believe he’s 39 and still at the top of nearly every statistical offensive category.
Ryan Tannehill: Ramsey throws a good bit of Tannehill shade: “I don’t know much about him. I haven’t heard the greatest of stuff about him but I don’t know him personally so I can’t tell you. I don’t watch their games either.”
Our Take: Anyone who throws a tantrum when his own scout team is roasting him is probably not that good at football. Ryan Tannehill is not good.
Philip Rivers: “I think he’s pretty good.”
Our take: While Rivers the Octodad has more children than he does Pro Bowl appearances (seven), I still agree that he’s pretty good.
Jay Cutler: “I’ve really been enjoying that new reality show he’s got with his wife. I’m tuning in every week. He’s a much better reality TV personality than he was a quarterback.”
Our Take: OK, I made that one up.
Matt Ryan: This might’ve been the best of Ramsey’s spice: He is not a fan of the Atlanta Falcons quarterback. “I think Matt Ryan’s overrated. You can’t tell me you win MVP two years ago, and then last year, you a complete bust, and you still got Julio Jones?”
Our Take: [Eyes emoji] Well, damn. Ramsey didn’t even need to mention the Falcons’ 28-3 meltdown to provide a comprehensive argument for Ryan being overrated (not the same thing as bad). Ryan enters 2018 with perhaps the best receiving corps in the league. How the Falcons perform should go a long way toward settling the debate: Is Ryan actually good, or just a product of ex–offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan’s dank schemes?
Blake Bortles: With all the crafty couching abilities of a seasoned politician, Ramsey somehow compliments his own quarterback by never explicitly saying Bortles sucks, while also avoiding calling him a good quarterback. “Blake do what he gotta do …” Ramsey said. (Note the pause and ellipsis from the actual transcript!) He later compares “Playoff Blake” to Nick Foles.
Our Take: Look: You can’t just openly dunk on your quarterback, and this was a pretty good save for someone who knows his team’s QB isn’t among the league’s elite. Bonus points for Ramsey saying that Bortles goes up against the scout team in practice because the starters “don’t wanna hurt his confidence.”
All told, Ramsey’s QB spice had its merits: It’s hard to disagree that Joe Flacco and Ryan Tannehill are trash, and that Tyrod Taylor definitely doesn’t get enough credit for his lack of turnovers and solid game management. Plus, some quarterbacks are reliant on star players at the running back and wideout positions to buoy the team’s success. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but Prescott’s non-Elliott numbers speak for themselves.
Ramsey’s comments might not ingratiate him to half of the league’s quarterbacks, but it’s not like the shit-talking corner isn’t used to negative attention from his competitors (see: A.J. Green). Can the season just start already?