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Jaguars defensive scheme: Who fits, who doesn't?


The Jacksonville Jaguars defensive scheme will remain the same, at least name wise as a 4-3, under new head coach Gus Bradley but will be quite a bit difference. Bradley ran a 4-3 defense with the Seattle Seahawks, but it wasn't a tradition 4-3 defense, it had some 3-4 elements mixed into it, which is what the Jaguars should be doing going forward.

We've talked about the LEO position and such in the past and broken down how Bradley's defense works, but now that the coaching staff has all but confirmed they will be running the same scheme as Bradley did in Seattle, we can look at how the current players fit into the scheme.

Related: Bradley, the 4-3, and the LEO


The LEO position is one that's caused great confusion when discussing the current roster and the NFL Draft. Essentially, the LEO is an undersized and quick pass rusher who's only job is to get in the backfield and pressure the quarterback or disrupt the backfield. They play the "open-end" side of the defense, usually lining up at the 7-technique or the 9-technique.

LEO candidates on the Jaguars roster: Jason Babin, Andre Branch
LEO candidates with expiring contracts: John Chick
LEO candidates in the first round: Barkevious Mingo, Bjoern Werner, Dion Jordan

The 5-technique

The 5-technique defensive end lines up on the strong side and will typically be asked to two-gap and hold the point of attack against the run, but also provide some pass rush from that side. These are typically bigger and stronger defensive ends, and generally the style of end that traditional 3-4 teams look for.

5-tech candidates on the Jaguars roster: Austen Lane, Tyson Alualu
5-tech candidates with expiring contracts: --
5-tech candidates in the first/second round: Ezekial Ansah, Sheldon Richardson, Datone Jones, Star Lotulelei

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The 1-technique

The 1-technique defensive tackle is traditionally a "space" eater. Their job is to two-gap and stuff the run more than anything else, so the running back has to spill the play to the outside or into the "bubble" created by how the the defensive line is setup, which will spill the back right into the should-be waiting weakside linebacker.

1-tech candidates on the Jaguars roster: C.J. Mosley, Jeris Pendleton
1-tech candidates with expiring contracts: Terrance Knighton
1-tech candidates in the first/second round: Star Lotulelei, Jessie Williams, Kawann Short

The 3-technique

The 3-technique defensive tackle is going to be more of a penetrating defensive tackle who can also hold up against the run. They will generally be asked to 1-gap and collapse the pocket from the inside, which should further help force the running plays to where the defense wants them to spill to.

3-tech candidates on the Jaguars roster: Tyson Alualu, D'Anthony Smith
3-tech candidates with expiring contracts: --
3-tech candidates in the first/second round: Sheldon Richardson, Shariff Floyd

Players without a "fit"

There are some players on the Jaguars roster who don't really have a specific "fit" in this style of defense, but it doesn't necessarily mean they're not going to be useful or on the roster in 2013. The biggest non-fit right now is Jeremy Mincey, who's more of a traditional 4-3 defensive end. He's not really a 5-tech, but he can play that role on some downs. He's not what you look for in a LEO, but he can also contribute as a 3-tech on third and long to help penetrate in the backfield, as he has extensive experience working inside and out on the defensive line. George Selvie falls in the same category as Mincey, but I'm not sure he offers the same kind of versatility as Mincey.

I actually think overall, the current Jaguars defensive line lends well to making this kind of transition. They have pieces in play like Alualu, Lane, and Branch who should really benefit from switching to new roles. If they can add someone like Barkevious Mingo in the draft as their primary LEO type player, they could flip the switch quickly.