Promoting from Within
It's not unusual for an NFL coach to promote from within when a coordinator position opens, so it stands to reason we shouldn't be surprised by Gus Bradley's choice to replace Bob Babich. Todd Wash served under Bradley in Seattle, and moved over with him when Bradley got the Jaguars head coaching job.
|North Dakota State (2002–2003)||Defensive line coach|
|Missouri Southern State (2001)||Defensivecoordinator & linebackers coach|
|North Dakota State (2005–2006)||Defensive line coach|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2007–2008)||Defensive quality control coach|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2008–2010)||Defensive line coach|
|Seattle Seahawks (2011–2012)||Defensive line coach|
|Jacksonville Jaguars (2013–2015)||Defensive line coach|
|Jacksonville Jaguars (2016–present)||Defensive coordinator|
Was An Internal Promotion Warranted?
Normally an internal promotion is meant to maintain continuity. But the desire to maintain continuity is usually associated with a winning progam. The Jaguars have been anything but under Bradley.
Jaguars Defensive Rankings (2012-2015)
- The Jaguars defense has been as bad as it was under Mike Mularkey in his 2-14 season
- Last year, the Jaguars allowed 448 points (31st in the league)
- Last year, the Jaguars allowed 6,000 yards for the third time in four seasons (24th)
- The Jaguars have never ranked better than 24th in turnovers under Bradley
It's the Captain, Not the Lieutenant
Let's be honest with ourselves, the replacement of Babich with Wash probably isn't going to mean much because it's Gus Bradley's system and he's still the man in charge. Bradley's star was born under Pete Carroll in Seattle, but three years later we can definitely make the case Bradley was a product of Carroll's system.
- The Seahawks defense went from abysmal to elite in three seasons under Carroll...the same amount of time Bradley has been at the helm of Jacksonville
- Bradley's last year the team ranked 1st in points allowed and 4th in yards allowed
- In the three seasons since Bradley's departure, the Seahawks have maintained their #1 ranking in points allowed and IMPROVED in yards allowed
- Two other coordinators have overseen Seattle's defenses, with better results, under Carroll's watch
Can Energy and Rapport Offset Scheme?
That's the $64,000 question as to whether the Jaguars can finally show some improvement defensively. Plenty of Jaguars have publicly endorsed Wash in recent months -- usually citing his 'intensity' or his 'energy.' That's all well and good, but it's the same scheme and Gus Bradley remains the ultimate man in charge. Wash is his right hand man and has been for years, so how much autonomy to change will he be given? And for all of Wash's praise, it's not as though the Jaguars defensive line (Wash's responsibility) has been a shining spot in an otherwise bad unit.
Personnel to the Rescue?
Coaches coach but PLAYERS PLAY. Trite though that may be, it's certainly true. Jaguars fans are quick to assuage criticism of Bradley and his staff by pointing out a lack of talent on defense. Yet, it's been three seasons and there's been nothing incremental to hang their hats on. Is it REALLY a personnel issue? If so, 2016 promises to be the last time Bradley, Wash and the other assistants can use that excuse:
- DE Malik Jackson signed to a 6-year, $90 million contract ($42 million guaranteed) -- Jackson was considered the prize of the free agent class on the defensive line and the Jaguars moved aggressively to add him at the start of free agency. Jackson thrived in a 3-4 system in Denver but should transition well to a 4-3 front given his particular skill set
- DE Dante Fowler is healthy after his lost rookie season -- Fowler was selected 3rd overall in 2015 and was supposed to be the Jaguars' long-sought "Leo" -- the key player in a Bradley/Carroll defense. Fowler never played a regular season down after tearing his ACL in rookie camp a season ago. As a full participant in OTAs, Fowler looks ready to make an impact after a red shirt season
- S Tashaun Gipson signed to a 5-year, $35.5 million contract ($12 million guaranteed) -- Gipson was a ball hawk for the Browns and should be an immediate upgrade at safety for the Jaguars
- CB Jalen Ramsey drafted in the 1st round -- Ramsey was considered a Top 3 pick by many, and the Jaguars added him early in the first round to solidify a porous secondary. Ramsey suffered a slight tear in his meniscus in rookie camp, but is expected back in time for the start of training camp
- LB Myles Jack "stolen" in the 2nd round -- The film points to Jack being a potential once-in-a-generation talent. Concerns about a degenerative knee injury dropped him out of the 1st round, but the Jaguars rolled the dice on the former UCLA Bruin. Jack may be risky as a 5+ year starter, but there's no reason to think he can't be an instant impact defender until (if) his knee problems resurface
Adding five impact starters, all at the start of their careers or in their primes, can go a long way to fixing mediocre coaching. Of course there's also the possibility that Ramsey, Jack and Fowler don't pan out. If they don't, look at the coaches and expect Jacksonville to have a whole new staff in 2017.