The Jaguars' defense fell off a massive cliff in 2019, but there were grumblings about their defensive coordinator long before the disappointing results of a lost season.
Fans have been calling for defensive coordinator Todd Wash's head for years.
"He doesn't make adjustments!"
"He's too stubborn with his scheme!"
"He doesn't know how to get the best out of his players!"
All have been common refrains from fans of the Big Cats. And they may be correct, in part.
But it should be noted that prior to 2019, the Jaguars' defense had not finished any worse than ninth since Todd Wash took over as defensive coordinator in 2016. Of course, those defenses had plenty of talent, but Wash deserves credit for getting the most out of those players.
It'd also be unfair not to point out that three of the Jaguars' most important defenders went missing in action this year, for one reason or another. Weakside linebacker Telvin Smith announced during the offseason that he would not play football in 2019. Jalen Ramsey went AWOL and demanded a trade. And finally, by no fault of his own, Marcell Dareus suffered a season-ending injury after playing in just six games this season. With that type of attrition, it would have been nearly impossible for any defensive coordinator to achieve consistently positive results.
Having said all that, I still believe the Jaguars could upgrade their defensive coordinator. Todd Wash has been inflexible with his scheme and seemingly unable to adjust when teams figure out how to beat it.
It's unclear if Dave Caldwell and Doug Marrone have the same feelings about Wash. But if they assess the situation as I do, several big-time defensive minds could be available.
The Los Angeles Rams recently fired Wade Phillips. If you're unfamiliar with the legendary defensive coordinator, it's time for you to do some homework. Phillips runs an attacking 3-4 scheme and has been able to adapt and mold that scheme to fit the players that he has it his disposal. The Rams enjoyed a lot of success under Phillips' direction on defense. And Phillips is particularly impressive in the first year with new teams. The Rams allowed just 20.6 points per game in Phillips' first season with the team. During the first season of his prior stop in Denver, the Broncos had the number one defense in football. And before that, in his first year in Houston, the Texans finished with the second-best defense in the NFL. His resume speaks for itself, and Phillips tweeted out that he's still interested in coaching. The Jaguars should be on the phone with him right now.
Another well established defensive coach, Rod Marinelli, was just let go by the Cowboys. While he reportedly hasn't decided whether he's going to coach again, the Jaguars should put out a feeler. He would run a similar scheme to Todd Wash, which may be a reason not to make the switch. But Marinelli values stopping the run, and his insight into how to do that, could help the Jaguars improve in that area next season.
Dom Capers, who served as a senior defensive assistant for the Jaguars in 2019, could also be an exciting choice. Capers was run out of town in Green Bay after their defense began to struggle. Still, he's enjoyed many years of success as a defensive coordinator in the NFL, including in Jacksonville. Capers' recent results are certainly a cause for concern.
Whether or not the Jaguars decide to make a change at defensive coordinator, they'll be in good hands. Given the proper personnel, Todd Wash's defense runs like clockwork. But adding a legend like Wade Phillips or the well-respected Jim Schwartz would also be a massive win for the Jags, especially for the 2020 season.
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