When news came out that the Jacksonville Jaguars were making Todd Wash their defensive coordinator, many fans (including myself) were at least mildly bummed out, mainly because it was an internal hire. It was clear from this point that nothing would change in terms of scheme, but rather the Jaguars would continue to build their 2012-era Seattle Seahawks doppelgänger defense and hope that a more disciplined approach was the solution to the Jaguars' ails.
Heading into Week 7, we have enough of a sample size to at least begin exploring whether or not Wash should receive any credit.
Does Wash deserves credit for the defensive improvement?
Fast forward to today and Todd Wash has the 8th-ranked defense in terms of yards allowed, the 8th-best passing defense, the 14th-ranked rushing defense, and the 12th-ranked scoring defense.
These are all massive improvements from a year ago.
Take a look at the tables below. As you can see, the Jaguars have improved across the board in dramatic fashion. The Jaguars are beginning to show signs of the speed and discipline that Wash always preaches about, and it seems like the defense is the strength of this team, counter to what we expected at the beginning of the season. Here are two more examples of the improvement we've made:
Last year, quarterbacks had a 97.2 rating against us. This year, that rating has dropped to 89.1.
Last year, opponents would average 5.4 yards per play. This year, that number has dropped to 4.8.
This is no fluke, as the promotion of Todd Wash has coincided with the improvement of play. Wash is more aggressive, calls more blitzes, and preaches accountability. His predecessor, Bob Babich, did not do any of these things. Hence, Wash deserves the credit for the impressive play of the defense.
Or was the defense set to improve regardless?
This case, in my opinion, makes more sense and is easier to argue than the previous one. There are many more ways to attack this case. One argument is that the improvement of the defense is not because of Wash, but rather because of Dave Caldwell. Dave Caldwell was responsible for bringing in Jalen Ramsey, Myles Jack, Prince Amukamara, Yannick Ngakoue, and Malik Jackson, to name a few. Ngakoue, Ramsey, and Amukamara have impressed, and are a big reason why the Jaguars are playing so well. Dave Caldwell's additions would make any coordinator look good, much less Todd Wash.
Additionally, there is the argument that the defense could be even better. Wash has failed to use Myles Jack correctly. Jack has gotten disappointingly low playing time, and it's frustrating that Wash can't find a better role for him, one that suits his strengths. I am also interested at seeing a base defense where there is no big end, but rather 2 LEOs on the field at the same time. Seattle made this transition after Bradley left, and it would be interesting to see the Jaguars try it out.
One final, intriguing thought is that the defense is not improved, but rather at or below last year's level. If you're looking at the stats that matter most, this turns out to be an interesting take.
The Jaguars are allowing their opponents to convert third downs at a 44.6% clip, good for 28th in the league. Last year, they allowed their opponents to convert third downs at a rate of 46.3%, second-worst in the league.
There has been little improvement in that oh so important element of a defense, one that is crucial to winning regularly on Sundays. Additionally, the Jaguars defense has only produced five takeaways, tied for 26th in the league. This puts them on pace for 16 total takeaways. Last year, the Jaguars had 18 takeaways. Wash has failed to improve this part of the defense, and I'd be willing to bet that any other coordinator out there could do a much better job give the talent that we have.
So what's your take? Should the improvement of this defense be credited to Todd Wash? What about Dave Caldwell? Is the defense worse then last year? Voice your thoughts in the comments and the poll below.