Jacksonville Jaguars defensive staff taking shape after hiring Ryan Nielsen

• The Jaguars are rounding up their defensive staff after hiring Ryan Nielsen as their defensive coordinator Monday.

Oct 20, 2019; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys defensive backs coach Kris Richard prior to the
Oct 20, 2019; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys defensive backs coach Kris Richard prior to the / Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
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The Jacksonville Jaguars have started adding coaches to their defensive staff after hiring Ryan Nielsen as their defensive coordinator Monday. They will reportedly bring in Matt House as their linebackers coach while Dave Huxtable is set to join Nielsen as a defensive consultant. On top of that, Kris Richard interviewed for their defensive backs coach opening Wednesday.

House was LSU's defensive coordinator the past two seasons. Before that, he spent three years with the Kansas City Chiefs. He was also Kentucky's defensive coordinator in 2018, Josh Allen's breakout season in college. House will replace Tony Gilbert, one of many assistants who were let go after the 2023 season concluded. Tom Pelissero of NFL Media first reported the news.

Huxtable, for his part, brings more than 40 years of coaching experience to the table, having spent time at Texans, North Carolina, UCF, and Georgia Tech. He was the defensive coordinator for the Tar Heels at the time Nielsen was the defensive line coach. Rick Ballou of 1010 XL was the first one to report that Huxtable was joining Nielsen's staff.

Richard, on the other hand, was the defensive back coach for the Seattle Seahawks when the Legion of Boom peaked. He was the Las Vegas Raiders defensive coordinator in 2017. He coached the Dallas Cowboys' defensive backs for two years before landing with the New Orleans Saints, where he crossed paths with Nielsen, in 2021. Aaron Wilson of KPRC first reported his interview with the Jaguars.

The Jaguars dismissed defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell just one day after the loss to the Tennessee Titans in the finale. They also moved on from most defensive assistants, along with running backs coach Bernie Parmalee and assistant offensive line coach Todd Washington. The only three defensive coaches who remained in place were outside linebackers coach Bill Shuey, assistant defensive line coach Rory Segrest, and quality control coach Patrick Reily.

Once the Jaguars fill their defensive staff, they'll need to add talent to the defense

The Jaguars are close to filling all their vacancies on the defensive side of the ball. They should take care of it the next few days. Once they do, they'll need to ensure Ryan Nielsen has enough talent to run his scheme without limitations. The interior defensive line could use some upgrades. The same is true for their cornerback group.

Nielsen's system asks cornerbacks to play man coverage. Last year, Jacksonville mostly played zone, so it will be interesting to see how Tyson Campbell and Darious Williams fit. On the bright side, the Jaguars should get much better play from their front seven, Nielsen's area of expertise. Pro Bowl defensive end Cam Jordan recently vouched for him and his work.

Then again, most players who've suited up for him will most likely have rave reviews of him. It's worth noting that Atlanta Falcons players weren't pleased with Nielsen's departure, which goes on to show what kind of reputation he has around the league.

The Jacksonville Jaguars are coming off a disappointing season. Having Ryan Nielsen around should increase their chances of returning to the playoffs and challenge the Houston Texans for the No. 1 spot in the AFC South in 2024.

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