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Could the Jaguars eye a new defensive coordinator?

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With the team’s assistant coaches currently in limbo, a change at defensive coordinator is a possibility

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NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Arizona Cardinals Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

While there has been no decision made on the Jaguars end to retain or release defensive coordinator Todd Wash, a couple of intriguing minds are potentially set to hit the open market very soon.

Two of those are Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz and now-former Los Angeles Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips. There is some thought Schwartz just finished the last year of his deal with the Eagles — expiring in January* —, and it is unknown whether or not the club will retain him for next season.

Phillips announced on twitter today that his contract with Los Angeles will not be renewed and that he would still like to coach in the future.

While the Jaguars retained both head coach Doug Marrone and general manager Dave Caldwell just last week, the team — and Marrone —, have yet to make any decisions on the assistant coaches, including Wash. When asked if all of his assistant coaches would be retained for the 2020 season, Marrone said an evaluation would take place with an emphasis of having the “people in the right position” to get the most out of the football players and team.

“I think it is something that is going to go back and be evaluated. I think, obviously, my focus and concentration at the end was to get our players in a better position to perform. I think I am going to go back through the same process of looking at the staff, seeing what we can do..,” Marrone said last week.

“First, it comes to me – kind of what we talked about here, some of the changes that I am going to make and what we do, not just for myself, but for the staff, everyone that touches these players.”

The team’s assistant coaches are on break until the 13th of January and at that point Marrone says he will sit down with them and make decisions, if there are any to be made.

Both Phillips and Schwartz would make intriguing hires for the Jaguars if they were to make a change at defensive coordinator. Phillips is one of the most experienced and well-established defensive minds in the NFL at 72 years old with 42 years of assistant and head coaching experience at the highest level of football.

While in 2019 the Rams’ defense was middling, finishing 12th in passing-yards-allowed and 19th in rushing-yards-allowed, Phillips came off of a Super Bowl in 2018 in which the Rams allowed only 13 points to the New England Patriots in the lowest-scoring Super Bowl of all time.

Although Marrone doesn’t have an obvious connection to Phillips, he could be the veteran presence the Jaguars defense desperately needs, with a potential to implement a 3-4 defense. Phillips runs a different form of a classic 3-4 defense, whereas typically the ends would two-gap, in Phillips scheme he implements more of a one gaping system, allowing the down linemen to simply attack.

Jaguars defensive back A.J. Bouye learned under Phillips during his rookie season in 2013.

As for Schwartz, Marrone has always had a close relationship with his former defensive coordinator (Bills, 2014). In early 2019, Marrone hired secondary coach Tim Walton who was Schwartz’s defensive backs coach from 2009-2012 with the Detroit Lions.

“With Tim Walton, I was looking for someone and, again, you look for that trusted opinion,” Marrone told The Athletic in March of 2019. “And I was talking to Jim Schwartz and Jim’s like, ‘Hey, listen, if I was ever to get a (head-coaching) job, this is the guy I’d hire.’ And I said, ‘Well, I’ve got to talk to him.’ So I talked to Tim.”

With the Eagles, Schwartz’s best season came in 2017 (the year the team won the Super Bowl). The Eagles’ defense led the NFL in run defense, while ranking 17th in passing yards allowed.

Schwartz’s aggressive style of defense would suit the Jaguars and allow them to remain in a 4-3 attacking front, with a similar split as run by Wash currently. Marrone may want to reunite with his friend, and in a potentially lame-duck year for the entire coaching staff, he may not have many other choices. Schwartz could also eye the potential for the Jaguars head coaching job if that were to come to fruition, something he would likely need to be assured of to take a one-year gig.

*Editor note: Jim Schwartz signed with the Eagles in 2016 as their defensive coordinator, however did not receive an extension with Doug Pederson and Howie Roseman in 2018 after the Super Bowl. The expectation based on speaking to some in league circles is that Schwartz’ contract is set to expire this offseason. This assumption was published with approval by the managing editor.

Update: It has been confirmed that Jim Schwartzs contract, though not extended, runs through the 2020 NFL season.’