The Jacksonville Jaguars have been receiving plenty of media attention this offseason about how this is a team on the rise. The solid moves in free agency, along with the core of offensive weapons have made this team a trendy pick to potentially make the playoffs in 2016.
The only problem is the defense is still under scrutiny despite the moves made in signing Malik Jackson, Tashaun Gipson and Prince Amukamara. If there was any question the team under Gus Bradley might be ready to finally take off in 2016, it was answered when Bradley’s former boss, Pete Carroll gave his seal of approval on the success his former pupil is about to encounter.
In NFL coaching circles, a vote of confidence from a former team or former boss is like a golden chocolate bar in Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.
“I think it takes a long time and the formula that they have put together, it’s taken some time to make their efforts on the roster and going after the players and spending the money and all that kind of stuff,” Carroll said at the NFL’s annual owners meetings. “I think they’re really going for it, and I think he’s laid the foundation, which he has a great foundation of what he stands for and all as a head coach.
“You could see them really improve last year. I think you’re going to see them take off this year.”
The comments appear in a story by Michael DiRocco on ESPN.com.
Carroll has had his past two defensive coordinators become head coaches. Last year, following the team’s Super Bowl loss to New England, the Atlanta Falcons tabbed Dan Quinn as their new head man, replacing Mike Smith.
Maybe there is something in water in Seattle, but having your last two defensive signal callers land head coaching jobs means there is a pretty good system up there in the northwest portion of the country and a good reason the Seahawks are one of the best teams in the NFL.
Finally, in his fourth season, it looks like Bradley could see the fruits of his continual labor and constant positive reinforcement.
The Jaguars have won 12 games in 48 games under Bradley, which would get most coaches a swift kick out the door. Team owner Shad Khan has been one of Bradley’s biggest supporters, but after this past season, he said there would need to be more success for this franchise. Knowing the team – with both Caldwell and Bradley working to shore up the defense – and its efforts to improve, Khan still wants to see vast improvement in all facets of the organization.
The Jaguars have the fifth pick in next month’s NFL Draft, which should allow the team to find another piece to the puzzle and formulate a defense that is feared, not fearful as the season starts.
As the piece by DiRocco explains, the Jaguars gave up the second-most points in franchise history (448) in 2015 and a franchise-record 449 points in 2013. From 2013-15 the Jaguars’ defense has recorded the fewest interceptions in the NFL (26) and ranked 31st in scoring defense (27.3 points per game), 31st in third-down defense (43.8 percent), and 29th in total defense (375.0 yards per game).
A new defensive coordinator in Todd Wash and the addition of Monte Kiffin, a long-time standout defensive coordinator, as an advisor to Bradley, should pay dividends this season.
In addition to adding more defenders to the roster, Jacksonville will see last year’s first round draft pick, Dante Fowler, return from a knee injury that sidelined him all of last season. In essence, this is a team that will have two first round draft picks to use effectively in a new system in 2016.