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BCC staff roundtable: Takes on Jaguars hiring Ryan Nielsen as DC and biggest need

Our Big Cat Country staff delivers takes on the new Jaguars DC.

Atlanta Falcons v Tennessee Titans Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Welcome to Big Cat Country’s weekly roundtable, where our staff responds to a few open-ended questions related to recent Jacksonville Jaguars news.


Do you think the Jaguars make the right call with the hire of Ryan Nielsen as the new defensive coordinator?

Alfie Crow: I do think the Jaguars made probably the best possible hire they could make with Nielsen as defensive coordinator. I know a lot of fans thought the team would end up with someone like Wink Martindale as a short-term fix, but Nielsen is highly regarded in NFL circles and I think his style of defense will fit with what Jaguars fans want.

Travis Holmes: I do believe in the Ryan Nielson hire. An aggressive, teaching coordinator with a propensity to blitz and play heavy man coverage?! Sign me up. More so, his style of defense is something that many veteran quarterbacks and offensive lines struggled with across the NFL in 2023. As the NFL game continues to blend with college offenses, identifying the correct presnap blitz pickups, sliding the protection, identifying phantom pressure, & adjusting to overload blitzes now become key. I hope to see Neilsen’s defense putting these AFC South quarterbacks in a blender in 2024.

Gus Logue: Yes. Nielsen may be stepping onto a wobbly ship, but based on everything I’ve seen and heard, there wasn’t a better candidate available to have at the helm. He’ll be handed the keys to the defense and I’m expecting positive changes as a result.

Henry Zimmer: I think the Jags made a great hire at the DC position. By seemingly all accounts, Ryan Nielson was the best available coordinator on the market and the Jaguars of all teams were able to scoop him up. I think his mostly man coverage philosophy might take some getting used to, especially with the players already on roster who have traditionally run more zone, but that can all be worked out. I am very excited to see how his defensive line tendencies positively impact guys like Travon Walker and Josh Allen. All metrics point to Neilson as being a guy who can pump their numbers up, which is something the Jags always need.


What is one thing the Jaguars must address in the offseason?

Caitlin: Before the press conference yesterday, I would have said the offensive line is the one thing the Jaguars need to address during the offseason. However I’m now concerned that negotiations have not started with Josh Allen. I feel like that should have been done by now.

Alfie: The most obvious answer here is the offensive line, but I think with the addition of Nielsen as the new defensive coordinator, the Jaguars will absolutely need an upgrade at the boundary corner position and someone who can be physical and play man coverage so Nielsen’s scheme can run properly.

Travis: If there’s just one thing to address on the team this offseason, it has to be replacing Luke Fortner, no? I simply don’t recall the last time a non-quarterback had such a huge impact on the rushing game, passing game, and even the trust of the coaching staff in scheming an offense. It’s time.

Gus: Improving the protection up front should come first, but the Jaguars could also help Trevor Lawerence by adding a middle-of-the-field target. Evan Engram, Christian Kirk, and Calvin Ridley (if he returns) aren’t the type of pass-catchers who win contested catches between the hashes on a regular basis. A physical presence over the middle of the field would boost the offense’s explosiveness and efficiency.

Henry: The offensive line needs help. Whether it be through the draft, free agency, switching players around, something needs to change. Anton Harrison is great at right tackle but everyone else has their question marks. The Jags need to decide what they want to do with Walker Little and keep him there and decide if Cam Robinson is the future. We all saw what a bad offensive line does to an offense and quarterback. That cannot happen again.


What are your thoughts, Jaguars fans? Let us know in the comments!