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Report: Jaguars hire Ryan Nielsen as defensive coordinator

Ryan Nielsen, the former Atlanta Falcons defensive coordinator, will replace Mike Caldwell in the same role for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

According to a live report by ESPN’s Adam Schefter on the Pat McAfee Show, the Jacksonville Jaguars have hired Ryan Nielsen to be its next defensive coordinator.

The Jaguars were originally blocked by the Falcons from interviewing Nielsen, who served as Atlanta’s defensive coordinator last season. Jacksonville ultimately received permission after it became clear that the next Falcons head coach, whether Bill Belichick or not, would hire his own staff.

Nielsen previously spent six seasons with the Saints under Dennis Allen. He acted as defensive line coach from 2017-2020, then added assistant head coach to his title in 2021, then changed that title to co-defensive coordinator in 2022. Last season was Nielsen’s first as a defensive coordinator and play caller, though he continued to coach DL in the ATL.

Nielsen has coached defensive lines for 19 years straight. He was hired for that role at Ole Miss in 2005 and also coached at Central Connecticut State, UT Martin, Northern Illinois and NC State before joining the pro ranks.

Cameron Jordan, an eight-time Pro Bowler who ranks behind only Von Miller on the NFL’s list of active sack leaders, described Nielsen as “Top tier” when he took the Falcons gig last year.

Plenty of the internet’s resident film experts showed their approval of the Jaguars’ hire.

It will be great to see trench players like Josh Allen and Travon Walker get a chance to work with Nielsen, but the real question is what the back end will look like. Nielsen’s Falcons played man coverage at one of the highest rates in the league. That isn’t a surprise, considering his experience in Dennis Allen’s man-heavy scheme.

After former Jaguars defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell and the majority of his assistants were let go, the current staff consists of Nielsen, outside linebackers coach Coach Bill Shuey, assistant defensive line coach Rory Segrest and defensive quality control coach Patrick Reilly.

Jaguars fans, how do you feel about the hire?