The Jacksonville Jaguars are currently searching for a new offensive coordinator, and after a miserable defensive performance in their 30-9 loss to the Tennessee Titans last Thursday, they might have to look for a new play-caller on defense as well.
While Todd Wash’s defense was arguably the best in the NFL just last year, the unit has taken a step back in box score production this year. After ending the 2017 season with 38 total turnovers and 55 sacks, the Jaguars only have 15 turnovers and 25 sacks. Currently, the defense is on pace to end 2018 with 18 turnovers and 31 sacks. If the Jaguars wish to change things up defensively, Wash would likely be fired on December 31st after the season’s conclusion.
In that case, the Jaguars would have two open coordinator positions to fill this offseason. Considering it’s highly likely Marrone will stick around as the team’s head coach, expect him to utilize his coaching tree to make new hires. Well, his, and EVP of Football Operations Tom Coughlin.
What’s nice is there is some intertwining there, with two flashy names set to be available for hire this coming offseason: Former Minnesota offensive coordinator John DeFilippo and current Green Bay Packers defensive coordinator Mike Pettine.
DeFilippo was released of his duties in Minnesota following the Vikings’ 21-7 loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Monday night. In his first season with the Vikings, he had the pass game flowing by averaging 269 pass yards per game, ranking 8th in the NFL. QB Kirk Cousins has completed 70.6% of his passes for 3698 yards, 24 touchdowns and only nine interceptions in his first year wearing purple and white.
The same can’t be said about the Vikings’ run game, however. Dalvin Cook missing five games didn’t help, but even with a solid #2 in Latavius Murray filling in the Vikings have averaged a mere 85.4 rush yards per game, good for 30th across the league.
DeFilippo’s firing didn’t appear to be a performance issue and rather was a philosophy issue, which… doesn’t make sense considering the Vikings handed Cousins’ the first multi-year, fully-guaranteed quarterback deal in NFL history. Considering “Flip” had the Vikings’ pass game firing on all cylinders, which is what he specializes with and the Vikings appeared to want by DeFilippo’s hiring and the signing of Cousins, it’s hard to assume DeFilippo was at fault for the Vikings’ struggles. He should be a hot name this offseason for team’s looking for a new play-caller.
Jacksonville will be one of those teams, and they offer a great potential situation for “Flip” to take on. The Jaguars will most likely be selecting a quarterback in the first round as the Blake Bortles experiment is coming to an end, and with DeFilippo’s track record at the quarterback position, it’s hard to imagine he would turn down the idea to groom another. Considering his calling to the pass game, the Jaguars could look to add another mind for a run-game coordinator to pair with DeFilippo, but his lack of expertise with the run game shouldn’t keep them from bringing “Flip” in to fix the pass game.
And what makes this all really interesting is DeFilippo’s connection to the Jaguars staff.
“Flip” served as the New York Giants’ offensive quality control coach from 2005-2006, under then-head coach Tom Coughlin, who as previously mentioned currently serves as the Jaguars EVP of Football Ops. After Coughlin’s firing on New York a couple years back, he drew interest from San Francisco and Philadelphia for their open head coaching gigs. Had he taken one of those jobs, Coughlin would have brought “Flip” with him as his offensive coordinator. Despite Coughlin turning down both jobs, DeFilippo took a job as QB coach in Philly anyway.
Onto the defensive side of the ball, Mike Pettine is likely going to be searching for a new gig this offseason as well. He hasn’t gotten himself fired in Green Bay, as his defense ranks 8th best (up from 23rd in 2017 under Dom Capers) in pass yards allowed with 225 per game. While the run defense numbers aren’t great at 126.2 yards per game (24th), the Packers have accumulated 40 sacks and 19 turnovers, with three rookies starting on defense.
Pettine’s hybrid 4-3/3-4 defense relies on a mix of blitzing and four-man rushes with heavy utilization of man coverage to generate coverage pressure and sacks. Ben Fennell of The Athletic did a fantastic piece covering Pettine’s philosophies before the 2018 season began that you can read here. Pettine is also on record for being more of a players’ coach when it comes to schematics, as he bases his calls on his players’ skillset and reducing confusion in order to keep things simple and technique-based.
Todd Wash has been the polar opposite of that, more known for forcing scheme onto the talent the Jaguars have provided him. Players have even commented on their frustrations with Wash’s scheme in the past, and despite that, the Jaguars still mainly run the same thing: Four-man rush with very, very little blitzing, and often lining up in Cover 3 with a sprinkle of man coverage (mainly off-man). If this stubbornness is still a problem for the Jaguars defense (it is), then Pettine would be a great replacement to change those philosophies.
And, like DeFilippo, Pettine has a strong connection to the Jaguars’ staff as well.
Before taking a head coaching job in Cleveland from 2014-15, Pettine served as the Buffalo Bills’ defensive coordinator… under previously mentioned Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone. That year, although the Bills posted a not-great record of 6-10, their defense was lights out, allowing only 204.4 pass yards per game (4th best in NFL), and recording 35 interceptions and 57 sacks. Buffalo’s defense was regarded as one of the league’s best, and their performance landed Pettine his first head coaching game.
Oh, and although this is connecting the dots and nothing more: Pettine hired DeFilippo as the Browns’ offensive coordinator in 2015.
The Jaguars could very well just keep Wash as the defensive coordinator and promote from within at the offensive coordinator position with current interim O.C. Scott Milanovich. However, with the firing of DeFilippo and Pettine likely going to be avilable for hire with a new head coach heading Green Bay’s way, both have a fantastic track record that will make them hot names for teams searching for coordinators in 2019.
However, their connections to the men in charge in Jacksonville could give the Jaguars an edge over other teams, should the team pursue these options.
Jaguars wide receiver Marqise Lee officially taken off PUP list
The Jacksonville Jaguars have officially taken wide receiver Marqise Lee off of the physically unable to perform (PUP) list today. Head coach Doug Marrone announced the development at his pre-practice press conference today. Marrone says Lee will be practicing today.
— #DUUUVAL (@Jaguars) August 17, 2019
Lee has not practiced or played since his preseason knee injury almost a year ago today. With this progression, the Jaguars will go into the season — at least for now — with their top receivers active and relatively healthy. If Lee is able to make any sort of contribution during the start of the season it will be a major success for the Jaguars.
Currently, the Jaguars have relied on newcomer Chris Conley along with veterans Dede Westbrook, and D.J. Chark along with other newcomers to make up for Lee’s absence. It is not yet known how this will affect the Jaguars roster come the cut-down day.
The Jaguars have not announced a corresponding move as of right now. The roster stands at 91 until they do so.
REPORT: Jaguars sign RB Elijah Hood, release QB Tanner Lee
Earlier today the Jacksonville Jaguars announced the signing of running back Elijah Hood. As a corresponding move, the Jaguars have released quarterback Tanner Lee.
— #DUUUVAL (@Jaguars) August 17, 2019
Hood, 5’11” 230 pounds, was originally drafted in the seventh round by the Oakland Raiders. After bouncing around on the Raiders practice squad for the year, he was eventually waived following the 2017 season.
Hood most recently played the Carolina Panthers, however, his time with the Panthers was cut short in 2018 due to a torn ACL. He will get an opportunity to prove himself with the Jaguars and potentially live up to his collegiate career where he accumulated 2,580 yards and 29 touchdowns while at UNC.
With the injury to running back Alfred Blue (ankle) this past Thursday along with other running backs on the roster, the Jaguars needed to add depth at the position. Hood will get every opportunity to make the team, but his chances are rather slim.
Lee, a 2018 6th-round pick by the Jaguars was finally released as a corresponding move to signing Hood. Releasing Lee will not come to much of a shock for Jaguars fans. Lee has struggled throughout the offseason and in the preseason during both of his seasons with the Jaguars. This leaves backup quarterbacks Gardner Minshew and Alex McGough to battle it out in the Jaguars last two preseason games — although it looks like Minshew has the upper hand as of right now.
Jaguars defensive end Datone Jones has inside track on backup job
Earlier this offseason, the Jacksonville Jaguars opted to sign seven-year veteran Datone Jones as a means to create more competition and depth behind defensive end Calais Campbell. At the time, this was seen as more of a roster-filler type move, essentially to make sure the Jaguars have enough bodies during training camp. However, the situation has completely changed due to the way Jones has played during the offseason and into training camp.
Jones, 6’4″ 285 pounds, was originally drafted 26th overall in the 2013 NFL draft by the Green Bay Packers. Coming out of UCLA he was expected to make a major impact along the defensive line after accumulating a respectable 62 tackles, 16 tackles for loss, and 6.5 sacks during his senior season. Since being drafted, Jones has bounced around the NFL playing for the Minnesota Vikings, Detroit Lions, San Francisco 49ers and, most recently, the Dallas Cowboys.
Jones was not able to make as much of an impact on the Packers’ 3-4 defensive front after bouncing around from the defensive line to — surprisingly — linebacker.
For a short time, Jones signed with the Minnesota Vikings shortly after his contract with the Packers ended and expressed the concern of a position switch during an interview with the Vikings update stating, “They didn’t tell me. I found out on NFL Network that they had moved me to outside linebacker, I kind of knew that I would have to make the adjustment or I wasn’t going to be there anymore. I wanted to come into a place where I felt most natural, where I could really showcase my ability, what I could really do.”
Having to make such a drastic change in his career path after being mildly successful — 73 tackles and nine sacks with the Packers — at another position impacted Jones. While Jones did accumulate the most pressures for the Packers during the 2016 season while playing outside linebacker, it still was not the appropriate position for him to play given his natural ability.
Now with the Jaguars, Jones is back along the defensive line and is thriving. With the backup strong-side defensive end position for the Jaguars being completely wide open, Jones has taken the opportunity afforded to him and could be apart of the first group of players coming onto the field for the normal starters.
The Jaguars have tried for a couple of years now to find a good backup behind Campbell. They drafted defensive tackle/end Taven Bryan in the first round just a year ago, however, he has switched to more of a fulltime role on the interior of the defense. Mostly a disappointment his first two seasons, defensive end Dawuane Smoot has also taken a backseat with the arrival of Jones, giving Jones the inside track to win the primary backup job.
Jones has taken that opportunity and has thrived. Able to come off the ball with speed and power, he has the ability to adequately stop the run along with getting to the quarterback. During the game on Thursday, Jones completely took over the Eagles offensive line. One play in particular from Thursday’s game stands out.
Jones lines up on the defensive edge and is unblocked, getting to the quarterback and knocking him (Cody Kessler) out of the game. These are the type of plays which illustrate why he has earned a spot on the Jaguars 53-man roster.
— Datone Jones AKA TONE_LOCC (@IAM_Dat_One) August 16, 2019
A rotation from normal starters Yannick Ngakoue, Marcell Dareus, Abry Jones, and Campbell to Josh Allen, Bryan, Eli Ankou, and Jones illustrates just how deep the Jaguars are along the defensive line.
This past week head coach Jaguars Doug Marrone was asked about the importance of the defensive end spot behind Campbell.
“I feel good about where we are with our D-Line, I do. In other words, I feel like we have good starters, and I feel like we have good depth. I think we have a lot of players there, guys that will probably be, if you look at the roster, I think that can potentially be the toughest. Who is nine, who is 10 if we keep 10, wherever that goes,” Marrone stated.
“Yan obviously looks great out there, but then all of a sudden [Dontavius] Russell, [Michael] Hughes, Datone Jones, I mean you have guys now, big V [Kalani Vakameilalo] is a big body in there. We have guys now that are in there that are pretty good that it’s going to be a tough call.”
A “tough call” that might have gotten tougher — or easier depending on how you look at it — with the performance Jones put on Thursday and throughout the offseason. Against the Eagles, Jones was credited with three tackles and a quarterback hit, however, it was his persistent pressure and pocket collapsing plays that set him apart from everyone else.
Shortly after the game, reporters spoke to Jones about his strong play against the Eagles. “I just wanted to go out there and execute and compete. I felt like I started off really slow the first preseason game and I felt like I owed it to my teammates to go out there today, execute and put my abilities on film,” Jones said.
“[I wanted to] let guys like Calais [Campbell], Marcell [Dareus] and Yannick [Ngakoue] know that I’m here to compete and I want to be in the lineup with those guys. I want to be here in Sacksonville, sacking quarterbacks. Preseason is all about coming out here and displaying and competing and just having fun with your brothers. Executing, you know.”
It is clear playing behind the Jaguars starting defensive line, and seeing the culture within that group has lit a fire under Jones for the better. If he can provide the same production he has done in the past, the Jaguars may have one of the deepest defensive line groups in the entire league.
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