Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley failed to bring the massively Seattle Seahawks defense down to Duval and it may be fine to admit that dream is gone.
When Gus Bradley first joined the Jacksonville Jaguars, it was expected he could revamp a struggling defense and successfully implement a ‘Seattle South’ version of the defense he ran with the Seattle Seahawks.
Instead, the Jaguars struggled under Bradley and defensive coordinator Bob Babich to three of the worst defensive performances in franchise history. It was so bad that many of the Jaguars faithful lost the trust they had in Bradley and his ability to even right the ship on the side of the football considered his specialty.
The collective groan when Todd Wash was promoted to defensive coordinator could probably be heard across the NFL. But, as pointed out by Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union, Wash has done some tremendous work with the team, and likely deserves to be back after actually getting production following three years of futility.
The key thing to point out from O’Halloran’s article isn’t just the growth of the defense to be a top-10 unit in 2016, but that Bradley appears to have moved on from his desire to imitate the Seattle defense. Straight from Bradley’s mouth:
"I think he’s done a great job. The defensive staff – I really wanted it to be their defense. … There are things that we’re doing here that we didn’t do in Seattle. We just felt like to stay ahead of it, [we had]to incorporate new things. Those guys did the research on it and the work."
Three years of futility trying to copy the Seahawks and suddenly things change when you add some wrinkles. There was a post on reddit early in the season that summed it up well.
Moving on from the goal of copying Seattle’s defense finally allows the Jaguars to implement their own defense to fit the personnel. This leads to clear improvement, even though the Jags are still implementing a similar base scheme. Wash has been much better than predicted in creating a defense that can competently play week after week and post reliable numbers.
There’s still room to grow, of course, but this Jags defense has actually flourished now that it isn’t trying to fit square peg talent into round scheme holes. In yet another example of Gus Bradley’s deficiencies as a head coach, the movement away from what he wanted to implement has yielded positive results. After four years at the helm, Bradley may finally be realizing it, too.
No more pursuit of being ‘Seattle South.’ Let’s be our own team and form our own identity.