The Jacksonville Jaguars named Todd Wash their defensive coordinator on Friday. Head Coach Gus Bradley made the decision after four interviews with defensive coaches outside the organization and did it with the help of a very good defensive mind.
According to a story in the Florida Times-Union, Monte Kiffin, who spent many years in the league as a coordinator himself, consulted with Bradley during the search for Jacksonville’s next defensive coordinator. Kiffin also visited training camp in July and has been someone Bradley has looked to in certain situations. Kiffin is not officially on staff with Jacksonville, but he is being touted as an unofficial consultant. Monte and I, there’s a deep level of trust [in the] relationship that we have,” Bradley said, via Vito Stellino. “I know he has a track record of hiring very, very good defensive personnel. Mike Tomlin, Lovie Smith, Herm Edwards — the list goes on.”
In an odd twist, Kiffin was not the only one sitting in on the interviews with the other four candidates. The Times-Union also reported that Wash sat in on those interviews as well. “It was uncomfortable,” Wash said. “In the back of your mind, I think it’s human nature, you want to be the defensive coordinator. … Sitting in on the interviews was a learning experience, it was a humbling experience.”
Bradley acknowledged in the article that Walsh sitting in on the interviews was “unorthodox”, but Wash should also take it as a compliment, because even before Bradley gave him the job, he wanted his input on the coaches that he was interviewing. Wash certainly isn’t a big name and it will take time to figure out if he was the right guy for the job, but the organization was comfortable with Wash and that means the fans have to wait it out. Wash said he will be calling the defensive plays from the sideline, which is a subtle change from previous defensive coordinator Bob Babich, who called the plays from the press box. Wash was not shy about what he expects from his defense. “We’re going to play with great toughness, great effort and we’re going to play disciplined,” Wash said. “I think that’s some of the things that we did not do as a unit. That starts with me also.”
Wash has to change the culture of this defense in order to succeed and he knows that. Getting Dante Fowler, Jr. back from injury will certainly help, but one player will not turn the worst defense in the league into a juggernaut. Personnel changes need to be made, you can’t expect the coach to work miracles with middle of the road players. Upgrades at many positions need to be made, there is no doubt, but the question is, are the Jaguars willing to spend money? Even beyond that, are players willing to play in Jacksonville? Those questions will be answered over the next few months, for better or worse.