We're starting a new six part series on Big Cat Country sponsored by Sprint, bringing you the first wireless 4G network. The series is called "Sprint Game Changers" and will revolve around things the Jacksonville Jaguars have done during the off season that will have a significant impact on next season. Big Cat Country has been sponsored by Sprint in the past and we are excited to have them again.
The next player in this series isn't a player at all, it's a position coach. New Jaguars defensive line coach Joe Cullen who formally worked under current Chicago Bears defensive line coach Rod Marinelli when he was the head coach of the Detroit Lions. We all know about Joe Cullen's background and his issues with drinking, so I won't delve into that subject. Instead, we'll look at what kind of an effect Coach Cullen is going to have on the Jaguars abysmal pass rush.
The Jaguars pass rush mustered up an eye popping (in the bad way) total of 14 sacks in 2009. Cullen walks into a situation that can only get better. "Looking at the tape, there’s some guys here like Derrick Harvey and John Henderson that can get to the quarterback," Cullen said. "There were a lot of close-but-no-cigar [quarterback sacks]. I can’t answer why the pass rush wasn’t better, because I wasn’t here. I know my job is to fix that. I’ll come in and work to do the things we need to do to get to the quarterback." Cullen replaces former Jaguars defensive line coach Ted Monachino, who really never did anything with what was believed to be a talented defensive line.
To Monachino's defense, Reggie Hayward was injured during much of his tenure, as was former Jaguar Marcus Stroud. Monachino also had to work with some rookie defensive ends like Derrick Harvey and former Jaguar Quentin Groves. That was part of the problem with Monachino, however. Neither of them seemed to get better from one year to the next. This had become a trend ever since Monachino took over for Ray "Sugar Bear" Hamilton who left for the Falcons with Mike Smith in 2008.
Joe Cullen is coming into a group of young defensive lineman who are still malleable. He has a big athletic defensive end in Derrick Harvey, who Joe Cullen is actually very familiar with. "Our pick was going to be Derrick Harvey if he was available," Cullen said. "We did a lot of research on him, put him through a great one-on-one workout after Florida’s pro day. The qualities we saw in Derrick are still there. He’s explosive, strong. He’s going to be a powerful rusher. With more repetition and work, that can come out of him."
With a plethora of young defensive lineman and pass rushers to work, Cullen can put his mark and resurrect what was once a promising career as a defensive line coach.