In the spring of 2013, Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell barely participated in free agency. Caldwell elected to fill the roster with young and yet unproven talent so Jacksonville could rebuild without making expensive or long-term commitments.
As Caldwell and head coach Gus Bradley continue to build the Jaguars into a contender for future years, their plan for the spring of 2014 called for a more active approach in free agency. In March and April the Jaguars, targeted free agents who come with experience as contributing role players for their former teams.
One free agent signee who fits this description is punt returner and wide receiver Tandon Doss, a three-year veteran of the Baltimore Ravens. In March the Jaguars signed Doss to a two-year/$1.5M contract, very little of it guaranteed. Consider the contract a low-cost experiment to see if Doss is capable of developing into a consistent long-term producer.
For the first nine weeks of the 2013 season, Doss filled in for an injured Jacoby Jones as the Ravens’ primary punt returner. The Ravens gave Jones the role back even though Doss had the best average punt return in the whole league (out of all players who returned at least five punts).
Doss only dropped one punt during the season — a drop that came, bizarrely, on a called fair catch. On most of his returns, Doss showed an excellent ability to juke away from a rapidly closing defender. For example, on this Week 2 return against the Cleveland Browns, Doss manages to leave a hard-charging Barkevious Mingo behind the play with an outstanding deke. Doss would end up returning this punt for 21 yards:
The next week, against the Houston Texans, Doss returned a punt for a touchdown for the first and only time in his career. Shane Lechler’s booming 58-yard punt had the side effect of outdistancing the Texans’ coverage unit:
With so much space between himself and the nearest defender, Doss is easily able to cut to his right and take the ball all the way down the sideline. Given a long punt or step-slow coverage, Doss is certainly capable of capitalizing on any weakness the defense gives him.