Dec 24, 2011; Nashville,TN, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars interim head coach Mel Tucker on the sideline against the Tennessee Titans during the second half at LP Field. Tennessee defeated Jacksonville 23-17. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-US PRESSWIRE

Mel Tucker - Jaguars Cornerstone in 2012

A lot of time is spent analyzing players, head coaches, and general managers, but not a lot is said about coordinators unless they are suddenly in the race for a head coaching position.

Mel Tucker, the Jaguars defensive coordinator since 2009, was in the position of interim head coach for the Jags after the firing of Jack Del Rio last year.  He wasn’t offered the head coaching job after the season; but make no mistake, the work that Mel Tucker does this year will determine the future course of the Jaguars.

Blaine Gabbert, offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski, head coach Mike Mularkey, and Gene Smith are getting their deserved attention for the success of the Jaguars this coming year.  A lot rests on the shoulders of those men in the development of an offense that can compete in the NFL.

Tucker deserves that hug! Source: Phil Sears-US PRESSWIRE

All due respect to those men, but it will be Mr. Tucker who keeps the team competitive in 2012.  The Jaguars defense made its first top 10 appearance under Tucker during the 2011 campaign, his third as the team’s defensive coordinator.  The Jags finished 8th in limiting pass yards, 9th in limiting the run, and 11th in takeaways.  With the additions on defense (and more competitive games), the defense is looking to have an even more impactful season in 2012.

And that all starts with Tucker.

Each game, he develops the schemes for the Jaguars.  He instills confidence in the team to succeed in their assignments.  He prepares the men from the 4th cornerback on the roster to the starting defensive tackle.  Without that preparation, the team can’t hope to compete.

The better offense for 2012 will not be the high-flying Peyton Manning type.  It won’t be able to keep pace in a shootout with the Lions or the Saints.  The offense in 2012 will be reliant on solid defensive play under Tucker.  In order to win, the Jaguars will have to be effective at taking the ball away, at stopping the opposition, and limiting scoring.

The defense will limit the pressure placed on the offense to win games as quickly as possible.  It will free up more run play calling.  It will allow more flexibility in scheming.  And it all comes back to Tucker.

Blaine Gabbert’s best friend in 2012 isn’t going to be an offensive playmaker, it’s going to be the defensive coordinator.

After every game the Jaguars win in 2012, somebody should be giving Tucker a hug.  The man’s going to deserve it.

- Luke N. Sims

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Tags: Blaine Gabbert Bob Bratkowski Denver Broncos Detroit Lions Gene Smith Indianapolis Colts Jack Del Rio Jacksonville Jaguars Mel Tucker Mike Mularkey New Orleans Saints Peyton Manning

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