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Jaguars defense to have an “aggressive mindset” under DC Mike Caldwell

The Jaguars have a new leader on defense in coordinator Mike Caldwell.

New York Jets v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images

The Jaguars' coaching staff has been finalized, and the new coaches are already starting to plant the seeds for their respective units as the team works to improve from a season of dysfunction from a year to go.

That’ll take time, something Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson has emphasized again and again as he met with the media at large for a second time since being named the HC earlier this month.

Pederson reiterated just that during his press conference on Friday, shortly after he finalized the team’s coaching staff just a day prior. When asked about the team’s roster, Pederson made caution that this is not going to be an overnight fix.

“I said I think in my opening remarks a couple weeks ago that it’s not an overnight fix, and it’s going to be a fix that we’ve got to do it one player at a time, one coach at a time, and get it turned around,” he remarked.

Pederson isn’t wrong. The team is going to need a bit more than just a couple of new coaches and maybe a player or two to get to a high level of football. Still, the changes they make today could have a major impact and propel them forward in order to reach that goal someday.

That’s the case with Jaguars defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell. A soft-spoken, bright-minded veteran defensive coach that has extensive experience in the NFL as both a player and a defensive coach.

Though he has not coordinated a defense before, his experience in working with some of the brightest minds in the business such as Todd Bowles, Jim Johnson and John Harbaugh has certainly laid the foundation for the type of play-caller he wants to be.

Pederson certainly believes that will be the case, an aggressive defensive coach that will translate to the players, too.

“It’s an aggressive mindset, and those are the conversations that Mike and I have had is we want to maintain the aggressiveness, we want to be able to put our players in position to make plays,” Pederson said of his conversation with Caldwell.

“Moving a Josh Allen around, moving a Chaisson, moving these guys around, moving safeties around, other backers. Really presenting a picture to the offense where maybe you don’t know where the blitz is coming from.”

Putting players in a position to succeed has been a problem in Jacksonville for quite some time. With a player like former first-round pick K’Lavon Chaisson, the Jaguars used him as a SAM linebacker in 2021, perhaps not allowing him to get after the passer as he was selected to do in 2020.

Still, an aggressive mindset is what Caldwell has preached, and that’s what he noted will be the case in Jacksonville as he takes the opportunity given to him by Pederson and runs with it.

“My history and my influences have been Todd Bowles, Jim Johnson, John Harbaugh, just to name a few, and that’s just my nature,” Caldwell told the media on Friday. “I believe as a coach when you’re on the defense you have to affect the quarterback, you have to affect the offense, and that enables you to go out there and be successful.”

Some things he took away from guys like Bowles and Johnson is really about the philosophy those two coaches laid out.

“If you’re attacking on defense, you’re going to make the offense adjust to what you’re doing, and if you affect them the right way, show a look this way and come from somewhere else, affect them the right way, now it disrupts their timing, and advantage defense.”

It seems so simple on the surface, but that’s how the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have won as of late with its defense. Sure, there are times when the call can be unforgiving - such as the way Tampa lost in the playoffs this year -, but it also allows a defense to flourish and get takeaways, something the Jaguars struggled mightily with last year.

Still, the Jaguars' defense will ultimately be whatever the players dictate it will be, Caldwell noted.

“It’s really not going to be we’re going to be this type of defense. That one, I’m going to look at the personnel, understand what they do well, let them go out there and do it well, and that’s where success comes from.”

A novel concept, something that the Jaguars appear to be in lockstep about from offense to defense and perhaps special teams, too.