The Jacksonville Jaguars are in the midst of their offseason program and there is a lot to learn. The team is on its third offseason program with three separate head coaches and the veteran players are in the midst of learning all they can about the new offense and new defense the team will be employing.
Perhaps the biggest change is the departure of Mel Tucker as defensive coordinator, who served as DC for the four seasons previous. In comes Bob Babich and head coach Gus Bradley’s defense and it will take some getting used to. Right now it’s all about learning the terminology and communication. “That’s what we’ve been doing the first week or so, is learning all terms and naming formations so we can communicate effectively. We have to spend a ton of time getting used to all the different terms and different philosophies,” said linebacker Russell Allen about getting all the new information over the past week.
The defense in particular is getting a complete overhaul. While the base 4-3 defense is the same on the surface, the way the players play and the different roles are a major departure. Under Tucker the defense was simple, relying on the reactions of the players and the ability to play fast. Under Bradley and Babich it will be more scheme oriented.
Departures from the past are new for the defense, but the offense is going through another whirlwind of changes. For receiver Cecil Shorts III this is his third new offense, one for every year he has been in the league. This year appears to be a bit more player friendly under offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch. It will still take some getting used to, but compared to the mass of confusion that was the offense under Mike Mularkey this year’s offense should be easier to grasp. The simplification isn’t making players’ time any easier as they learn an entirely new scheme, however. “You have to be on your toes,” says Shorts. “If not, it’s a little embarrassing, because you want to show a new staff and new offensive coordinator you’re on top of your game.”
The Jaguars will head into Phase 2 of the offseason program next week and should begin player-coach non-contact drills. Putting the things the veterans have learned thus far into practice should help the team to grow and learn the concepts faster. For now, it’s still terminology and making sure you’re laying a strong foundation in this new season.
– Luke N. Sims
You can also find me on Twitter @LukeNSims