By: James Johnson (@J_1010XL)
The Jaguars have been one of the busier franchises since the start of 2013 as they made yet another pivotal move heading into the 2013 season. This past Thursday, the Jaguars named Gus Bradley, formerly the defensive coordinator of the Seattle Seahawks, the fifth head coach of it's franchise and wasted no time introducing him to the media the following day. The move came as a surprise to most as it was believed General Manager David Caldwell was waiting to interview his longtime friend, Greg Roman of the San Francisco 49ers, for the team's head coaching vacancy. Those rumors were cut short as Caldwell “found his guy” in Bradley last week before even getting a chance to interview Roman, if that was his plan. Caldwell said that it took little time for him to see that Bradley would make a great head coach. If that wasn't enough, the Eagles also called the Jags organization and gave a strong recommendation for Bradley as he left Philadelphia without their vacant head coaching job. Most tend to agree that Philly was very close to making Bradley their head coach, but liked Chip Kelly a tad more than Bradley.
As for Bradley and Friday's presser, Bradley knocked it out of the park, as 1010 XL's very own Rick Ballou said. He brought an energy like no other to Everbank Field on Friday and really has the city and league buzzing about his hiring. The moment he began to talk in Friday's presser, I instantly realized his energy was unlike any other I've ever seen in a Jaguars head coach. In the presser, he touched on what he learned from coaching greats in Pete Carroll and Monte Kiffin, then on his visions for the city and the team. As for the scheme he'll run, that's to be determined, but he did say he'll put the players in the best position to make plays and be effective. Just based off his work I'd guess he plans to use the same scheme he did in Seattle, which he explained as a “4-3 defense, with 3-4 principles”. On offense, he said he wants to establish the run which he feels as a defensive coordinator puts a strain on the opponent’s defense, which will then open up the passing game. Shad Khan also spoke and stated that he felt it was important for the fans of the franchise to be patient and he is very confident that in time Bradley and Caldwell will make this team a contender. I must say, the vibe in Everbank this last week has been upbeat, and I'm very excited to see what the future holds. This week will be a busy one as Caldwell and Bradley assemble a staff and travel to Mobile, Alabama for the Senior Bowl.
Assembling a Staff: Since his hiring, Bradley has had little time to let things soak in and has already started looking for some assistants. On Saturday it was reported that the team found an offensive coordinator in Jedd Fisch, and a defensive coordinator in Bob Babich. Both were names hand-picked by Bradley and had previously worked with him in Seattle (Fisch) and in North Dakota (Babich). Fisch, a name many here in Jacksonville are familiar with, was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for Miami University prior to signing with the Jags Saturday. Before his tenure in Miami, he was a quarterbacks coach for the Seahawks while Gus was the defensive coordinator there. I didn't know much about Fisch, but as I did my research and asked around about him, I was impressed with what I heard. He was responsible for vastly improving the offense of the Hurricanes when they were 25th in the nation in terms of passing in 2012. I expect him to bring the West Coast Offense along with him based on his work at Miami and his background as an offensive assistant that worked under both Mike Shanahan and Brian Billick. As for Babich, Gus worked under him when Babich spent the late 90's to the early 2000's at North Dakota State. He then went on to become a linebackers coach under Lovie Smith during his tenure with the Rams (Smith was the DC) and then followed Lovie when he became the head coach of the Bears. He also served briefly as a defensive coordinator for them from 2007 till 2010, then later went back to being a linebackers coach from then up until now.
Bradley also retained two assistants from last season’s coaching staff in Mark Duffner and Jerry Sullivan, both of which are well regarded coaches at their respective positions. Duffner will be entering his eighth season as the Jaguars linebackers coach dating all the way back to the Del Rio era. The linebackers on the team really seem to vouch for him and, despite what most think, he's done a good job with the younger backers. Sullivan, a fan favorite among the assistants, was brought in by Mike Mularkey last season. Sullivan has widely been known for his work with star wide-out Larry Fitzgerald. He aided Cecil Shorts to a breakout season where he finished just shy of 1,000 yards in receiving, and Justin Blackmon to the 2012 All-Rookie team as a receiver.
There are many spots left to be filled on the staff, but I'd have to say the most important spot left is the quarterbacks coach vacancy.
Senior Bowl Buzz: As of Tuesday Bradley and the three coordinators I named above are all in Mobile scouting for the Senior Bowl. Babich and Ficsh will likely have interviews on Jaguars.com at some point during the week for the fans to view. It's been reported that the Jags so far have shown interest in five of the quarterbacks at the Senior Bowl. They've also spoken with North Carolina linebacker Kevin Reddick and BYU defensive end Ezekiel Ansah. Stay tuned and I will keep you all posted via Twitter on the others players the team shows interest in throughout the week.
(1/22/13) 2:30 PM Update: Mike Mallory, formerly the assistant special teams coach of the Saints, has been hired as the Jaguars new special teams coach (Via Ryan O'Holloran, of the Florida Times-Union). It's unclear if Mallory has joined the rest of the staff in Mobile yet.
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