The Jacksonville Jaguars have managed to hang onto two influential coaching assistans, wide receivers coach Jerry Sullivan and linebacking coach Mark Duffner.
After hiring Bob Babich as defensive coordinator and Jedd Fisch as offensive coordinator, the next step in the process was to see which position coaches should be retained. With some assistants, like ex-QB coach Greg Olson (Oakland’s new OC), leaving the Jauguars, it was crucial to retain some coaches if only for the sake of continuity. Jerry Sullivan easily topped that list.
Sullivan has had an extensive career in the NFL and specializes in receivers. Prior to the 2012 season he was coaxed out of retirement by ex-head coach Mike Mularkey to coach the Jags’ wide receiving corps. A lot of Jaguars Nation had hoped that he would feel invested in the receiving corps he was developing even without Mularkey at the helm, and it turns out we were right. Sullivan’s influence is obvious with the Jaguars. Cecil Shorts III had a breakout season and has posted the highest amount of receiving yards since 2005. Justin Blackmon also had a superb rookie season, leading all rookie receivers with 865 yards. On the whole, the passing offense moved from 2,179 yards in 2011 to 3,419 in 2012. The growth at wide receiver (despite massive overturn and turmoil throughout the season) under Sullivan is largely to thank.
Duffner’s retainment is also crucial for the Jaguars. Despite poor personnel at the linebacker position following the Clint Session concussions and Daryl Smith groin injury, the Jaguars were able to develop younger guys to fill in. The initial Russell Allen, Paul Posluszny, Kyle Bosworth formation fizzled largely due to inadequate balance because of Bosworth’s play. As the season went on Duffner was able to develop Julian Stanford into a good enough player to replace the horrific Bosworth and play at a moderately high level. Allen and Stanford both made leaps in the 2012 season and that is largely due to Duffner. His ability to promote the talent at linebacker, despite poor personnel, is commendable and warrants his retainment.
The Jaguars are smart to add Duffner and Sullivan to the defensive and offensive staff. The Jags need some continuity in an era of rejuvenation. They also need good position coaches. Sullivan’s coaching is impeccable and Duffner’s ability suggests that the defense will continue to have a strong linebacking unit through 2013.
– Luke N. Sims
You can also find me on Twitter @LukeNSims