After a dramatic turnaround in 2017, the Jacksonville Jaguars coaching staff is receiving some much deserved praise this offseason – including a top 12 ranking from Bleacher Report.
Mere minutes from the Super Bowl, the Jacksonville Jaguars ended the 2017 season near the mountaintop – which is more than anyone could have asked for after a disastrous 2016 campaign.
The team’s turnaround last year was remarkable, but one of the reasons it was so unexpected was the lack of turnover in the coaching staff. Yes, the team fired head coach Gus Bradley but a majority of the coaching staff stayed in place, including offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett and defensive coordinator Todd Wash.
It turns out that’s a pretty solid group of coaches.
In his recent power ranking of head coaches, Elliot Harrison of NFL.com slotted in Doug Marrone at 14. Our own David Levin more or less agreed:
"For now, I think he is right where he should be."
But what about when you account for the entire coaching staff?
Brad Gagnon over at Bleacher Report bumps the Jags coaching staff up to 11th best in the NFL in his recent rankings.
"11. Jacksonville JaguarsHead coach: Doug Marrone (26-24)Key assistants: Offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, defensive coordinator Todd Wash, defensive backs coach Perry FewellA former offensive coordinator who excelled with the Saints, Marrone has helped guide offenses that have ranked strongly in two of his three seasons with the team. He took over a team that won three games in 2016 and had them winning playoff games in 2017, which shouldn’t have been overly shocking because he also won nine games with a so-so Bills team when he was last a head coach in 2014.Hackett deserves some credit for their success on that side of the ball in 2017, but he hasn’t done enough with Blake Bortles at quarterback.Meanwhile, Wash is coaching so much talent that it’s tough to tell what kind of impact he’s had, but the fact is he’s run a top-10 defense in each of his two seasons in that role, and he has a good lieutenant in Fewell."
I’m fine with the ranking in a vacuum, but Gagnon’s analysis is somewhat puzzling. He mentions Blake Bortles, which seems mandatory in every piece that discusses the Jaguars, but he docks Hackett points for lack of development. Given the perception of Bortles as a below average quarterback, it makes more sense to credit Hackett for conjuring up a top 5 offense in spite of Bortles.
I don’t agree with that assessment either, but you can’t have your cake and eat it too when it comes to evaluating Bortles in a certain context.
Gagnon’s note on Wash is valid however, as we don’t really know how much scheme is really elevating the defense. There might not be a more stacked side of the ball in the entire NFL than the Jacksonville defensive starters.
Win a Super Bowl and this ranking will go up significantly next year.