After a disappointing season which saw the team’s defense surrendering record-setting numbers in terms of yardage during a five-game losing streak sandwiched in the middle of controversy, many assumed changes were bound to happen.
What some did not assume was the direction of those changes.
Two weeks ago, Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone decided to make a change to the team’s offensive coordinator position, mutually parting ways with former offensive coordinator, now Chicago Bears quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo. No changes have been made on the defensive side of the football, and there will not be any.
After hiring Jaguars offensive coordinator, former Washington head coach Jay Gruden just last week, Marrone sat down with Jaguars senior writer John Oehser and shared his thought process and reasoning as to why there was no change to the team’s defensive coordinator position, currently held by Todd Wash.
“I don’t like throwing out all the stats because people are like, ‘Oh, it’s like defending,’’’ Marrone told Jaguars.com last week. “I don’t feel like his body of work needs to be defended. Now, do we all have to do a better job than we did the last two years? Absolutely.” The Jaguars ranked 24th in total defense last season after seeing many of the team’s core players leave either via release, trade or otherwise.
In the previous two seasons — 2018 and 2017 — under Wash, the Jaguars ranked 5th and second in total defense. The team undoubtedly has fielded an elite defense more often than fielding the disappointment that was the 2019 defense in the past, however there have oftentimes remained struggles all three defenses have not seemed to shake. Regardless of players, the Jaguars scheme has left gaping holes in the run-game, and have shown clear deficiencies in their cover three zone defensive scheme that has been deployed since Gus Bradley was head coach from 2013-2016.
Marrone mentioned the long relationship he has had with Wash as another reasoning for his retention, working with someone for so long there is certain ‘insider information’, you can get from conversations, knowing exactly what is going on and perhaps why, something fans or media do not have the privilege to get a glimpse into. Marrone has been with the team since 2015, Wash since 2013, both under different titles ultimately earning them promotions from within the organization.
The Jaguars head coach is not ignorant of the popularity or unpopularity of the team’s fanbase when it comes to the decision, telling Oehser “It’s like anything else in this sport: if you’re not performing up to your level of what’s expected of you from a fans’ standpoint, you’re going to get people who want to see change … they want something done.”
Marrone later suggested that even in his position he understands that they may want him to be changed as well — the nature of the business.
The lasting hope for the Jaguars defense will be the insurgence of key pieces along the defensive side of the football, whether via the draft or free agency. The team currently has work to do as far as getting under the salary cap, but Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell has said recently he expects the team to be fine in that area. The Jaguars also have nine draft selections this season, something that will certainly assist their goal of yet again becoming one of the better defenses in the NFL.