Can Davon Rebuild His House in Green Bay?
Two years removed from signing a four-year, $25 million contract, cornerback Davon House was released by the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Packers secondary is in disarray, and the idea of welcoming back House is tempting.
House signed with Jacksonville in 2015. He was one of eight players who signed contracts totaling $80 million guaranteed, headlined by tight end Julius Thomas. Today, only one remains on the Jaguars roster.
How did House find himself out of a job so quickly in Jacksonville?
House breaks out in 2015
House started for the Jaguars in his first season, and played 94 percent of the defensive snaps. Only cornerback Aaron Colvin (97%) played a higher percentage of snaps for the Jaguars in 2015. The secondary snagged five interceptions, and four were by House.
Texans receiver De’Andre Hopkins roasted House in an October matchup. Hopkins was targeted 15 times and hauled in 10 catches for 148 yards and two touchdowns against House. The premiere free agent acquisition in the secondary had yet to intercept a pass halfway through the season.
The Jaguars traveled to London the next week to face the Buffalo Bills, and House was benched for two quarters. It was a clear message from head coach Gus Bradley: step up your game.
In Jacksonville’s final eight games, House notched four interceptions including two in a 22-20 road win over the Ravens in November. Against the Titans four days later, House forced and recovered a fumble late in the fourth quarter with the Jaguars nursing a 16-13 lead.
The Jaguars lost five of six to end the year 5-11. Late in the season, Bradley cited “lapses in communication” after the Saints beat up on the Jaguars, 38-27, and ran up 537 yards. Jacksonville finished the season ranked 29th in pass defense.
Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union noted that while House led Jacksonville’s defense in interceptions and pass breakups, he was the second-most penalized defender and missed the third-most tackles.
House of cards falls in 2016
Bradley fired defensive coordinator Bob Babich in the offseason and promoted defensive line coach and running game coordinator Todd Wash to coordinator.
Bradley and Wash counted on House to play well early in the season. The Jaguars drafted talented rookie Jalen Ramsey with the fifth overall pick, cornerback Aaron Colvin was suspended for the first four games of the year, and free agent cornerback Prince Amukamara missed Weeks 2 and 3 with a hamstring injury.
House did not perform to the team’s expectations. Quarterbacks had tremendous success in the season’s first four games throwing to targets covered by House:
- Week 1, Aaron Rodgers: 4-4, 43 yards, 1 touchdown
- Week 2, Philip Rivers: 4-5, 67 yards, 2 touchdowns
- Week 3, Joe Flacco: 6-7, 70 yards, 1 penalty
- Week 4, Andrew Luck: 1-1, 6 yards, 2 penalties
San Diego's Travis Benjamin raced past House on this deep pass in Week 2, one of two touchdowns Rivers threw when targeting House:
Through a quarter of the season, House had allowed opposing quarterbacks to complete 88% of their passes for 186 yards and three touchdowns.
With Amukamara healthy, Ramsey improving and Colvin available to play, House fell to fourth on the depth chart.
Over the last twelve games of the season, House only played more than five snaps in a game three times. After finishing third in the NFL with 23 pass breakups in 2015, he failed to record one in 2016.
House, along with safety Tashaun Gipson and rookie cornerback Jalen Ramsey, voiced displeasure with defensive coordinator Todd Wash’s scheme after the Jaguars dropped their season finale against the Colts.
"I don't know if it's just the defense that says you have to do this way or if it's just that's how the coaches coach," House said after the season's end, according to the Associated Press. "If you ask me, it's the defense. Their motto is kind of like, 'Well, what did Seattle do?' Everything Seattle did we did, but we say in the back end, well, we're not Seattle. Different guys. Different players."
How can Davon House help the Packers in 2017?
Jacksonville fired Bradley, but retained Wash. When a new regime led by Tom Coughlin and Doug Marrone entered the fray, House found himself out of a job. He was due $6 million in 2017, and Jacksonville will carry no dead money after releasing him.
On January 3, 2017, House told the Florida Times-Union, “I’m a good player - I’ve proven it and I’ll prove it. The situation this year, if you ask me, was not football-related. There is no reason why I shouldn’t have been on the field.”
If Green Bay were to entertain a reunion with House, it’s notably to consider how Dom Capers used him during his three seasons. Here’s the snap count breakdown over House’s career, excluding his rookie season when he played in only 2 games:
- Green Bay, 2012: 311 (34 per game) on defense, 80 (8 per game) on special teams
- Green Bay, 2013: 463 (28 per game) on defense, 331 (20 per game) on special teams
- Green Bay, 2014: 405 (31 per game) on defense, 178 (14 per game) on special teams
- Jacksonville, 2015: 1,036 (64 per game) on defense, 65 (4 per game) on special teams
- Jacksonville, 2016: 272 (17 per game) on defense, 174 (11 per game) on special teams
After lacking confidence in his rookie season, House was vastly improved in 2012’s training camp and appeared in line to start at cornerback opposite Tramon Williams. In the first preseason game, House injured his shoulder and did not return to the lineup until Week 7.
House was benched in 2013 for four games late in the season because of mental lapses, according to Rob Reischel in an October 2014 piece for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Plays like this made House a regular target of criticism:
A return to Green Bay for Davon House likely will improve the Packers special teams. House was regarded as one of the Packers’ best special teams players. This past year, the Packers special teams ranked 29th by the Dallas Morning News.