It’s been a busy day for new head coach Gus Bradley. Having just hired new offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch, Bradley turns around and hires his old colleague Bob Babich to be the defensive coordinator. Babich and Bradley worked together at North Dakota State University when Babich was the head coach and Bradley was an assistant. After some years of NFL experience, the two are being reuinted.
Babich brings a lot of experience with him to the Jacksonville Jaguars. He has worked himself up through the ranks of college and the NFL to land where he is now. He spent some time as an assistant at colleges in the ’80s and ’90s (mostly linebackers, some offensive line as well) before landing himself the head coaching job at NDSU. At NDSU he led the team to a 42-22 overall record from 1997-2002. Following the 2002 season he was poached by then-defensive coordinator for St. Louis Rams, Lovie Smith.
Since then he and Smith have been attached at the hip. Originally coaching linebackers in St. Louis, Smith took Babich with him when he went to Chicago. There, Babich worked his way up to defensive coordinator following the departure of Ron Rivera.
While defensive coordinator, the Bears struggled. A top five defense and NFC Champions in 2006, the Bears dropped to the low 20s in most defensive categories in 2007. Babich’s first year was nothing glorious or memorable.
2008 was a better year for the Bears’ defense. Babich’s unit shut down the run but was the most thrown at defense in the league. A top five run defense, the Bears had to learn to create turnovers to be effective. They did this and finished the year with 22 interceptions, good for third in the league. Despite being ranked 30th in the league in passing yards allowed, the Bears managed to hold the opponents’ net yards per attempt to just 5.9 (good for 10th in the league).
The 2009 season brought Babich more responsibility as he retained the DC role and took on the linebacking corps again. The defense found more balance than in 2008 but did not shut down either the run or the pass. The Bears’ defense finished in the middle of the pack for yards, net yards per rush and pass attempt, and in turnovers. Ultimately, it wasn’t good enough for the Bears and they replaced Babich with Rod Marinelli the next season. He has remained with the Bears as the linebacking coach since then.
What the Jaguars get in Babich is a familiar face for Bradley. He is a man Bradley can count on to coach units effectively and who can implement his schemes. I foresee Babich being a sounding board for Bradley. He can do the coaching and he can do the schemes, but I see a collaborative approach to the defense more than it being Babich’s brainchild. While I have questions for a much less familiar Fisch as the OC, Babich brings less intrigue with him.
I think it’s a mediocre hire that will allow Bradley to do what he wants if he needs to/wants to on defense. It is not an exciting or intriguing hire, but as a first time HC, Bradley needs some familiarity to hit the ground running. Thoughts?
– Luke N. Sims
You can also find me on Twitter @LukeNSims