Jaguars DC Ryan Nielsen outlines the key to being a successful NFL coach

• Newly appointed Jaguars DC Ryan Nielsen it takes more than Xs and Os to have success in the NFL.

Oct 20, 2022; Glendale, Arizona, USA; New Orleans Saints co defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen
Oct 20, 2022; Glendale, Arizona, USA; New Orleans Saints co defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen / Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Jacksonville Jaguars believed defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell didn't get the most out of his unit in 2023, so they moved on from him after the season ended. Having cast a wide net to find his replacement, the Jags zeroed in on Ryan Nielsen. Nearly a month after hiring him, they've at last introduced their new defensive coordinator. Nielsen took advantage of the opportunity to speak publicly and talked about what he thinks will help him succeed in Jacksonville.

Nielsen says he wants to build strong connections with his players in Jacksonville. Based on his comments, it looks like he's off to a strong start.

"We've got a talented group, Nielsen told the local media. "We've got some really good players and that's what was exciting and attracted us about the job here. But talent only gets you so far, right? We're really excited to get to work with these guys. They seem very eager, you try to reach out, introductions, Hello, how you doing? introduce yourself, things like that and the staff and the guys seem very eager and to get going. Obviously, the season just ended. So we need a break".

"We're just getting going here staff-wise. So this is a good time to start building relationships, which is really huge in what we do, right? It's about relationships and people. And so this is a great time a couple of these guys are just coming up "Hey, coach, introduce and put a face with the name things like that. So it's been very positive," Nielsen said.

Nielsen coached at the collegiate level for several years before making the leap to the NFL in 2017. He spent time as the defensive line coach for the New Orleans Saints and later got co-defensive coordinator added to his responsibilities in 2022. Last year, he crossed enemy lines to become the Atlanta Falcons' defensive coordinator. However, the Falcons fired head coach Arthur Smith and his staff followed not long after.

That said, Atlanta waited before letting Nielsen and other assistants walk. In fact, they blocked the Jaguars' first request to interview him for their defensive coordinator vacancy. But once the Falcons were close to hiring Raheem Morris as their head coach, they granted Jacksonvile permission to interview Nielsen. Here's his introductory press conference:

The Jaguars defense should improve with Ryan Nielsen leading the way

In Nielsen's lone season with the Falcons, their defense improved considerably. They went from 27th to 11th in total defense, ranked fourth in the league in red-zone efficiency, and third in conversion rate on third down. In Jacksonville, Nielsen will put an emphasis and fundamentals.

"That's the two things, when players come in, we want to stress. There's some things, fundamental things, tackling, takeaways, ball disruption in pursuit. And that's what we're going to be about: Tackling takeaways, ball disruption, you have to be a good tackling defense to be a good defense. Takeaways are the number one way to limit points. Ball disruption is making the offense play not on time."

"We're taking away a running lane or making a ball bounce or disrupting the quarterback and then pursuit, keeping the ball inside, proper angles, running and hitting. That's what we're going to be about. That's what we're going to stress. That'll be the first thing we talk about with the guys before we even start talking scheme or stance or anything like that. We'll start with that. That will be our foundation and we'll go from there."

Wherever he's gone, players and fellow coaches have praised Nielsen for his detailed approach. During his introductory press conference, the new Jaguars defensive coordinator said that he'll use a template of the things his players have previously done but he ultimately wants to build a unit with its own identity, a Jacksonville defense. He also said that he brought along coaches who know how to teach, and their priority will be to gain the players' trust.

If Nielsen is able to get the most out of his players, as he's expected, the Jaguars could have one of the top 10 defenses in the league next season. Also, their chances of making the playoffs would increase considerably, with a defense to match their high-powered offense.

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