Head coach Doug Pederson told the media Monday that he wasn't planning on making changes to his staff. However, he changed his mind later the same day and the Jacksonville Jaguars parted ways with defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell.
Greg Augman of Fox Sports first broke the news the Jags were relieving Caldwell of his duties. Not long after, Jordan Schultz added that the team was moving on from most defensive assistants. Then, Aaron Wilson of KPRC2 later reported that defensive quality control coach Patrick Reilly would be one of the few coaches that would be retained. Eventually, the team announced the firing. Here are the names of the assistants they moved on from, via John Shipley of Sports Illustrated:
- Inside linebackers coach Tony Gilbert
- Safeties coach Cody Grimm
- Defensive line coach Brentson Buckner
- Defensive quality control coach Sean Cullina
- Defensive quality control coach Tee Mitchell
- Senior defensive assistant Bob Sutton
- Passing game coordinator/cornerbacks coach Deshea Townsend
Pederson added Caldwell to his staff when he became the head coach of the Jags in 2022. Caldwell was previously the linebacker coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He and Pederson were in Andy Reid's coaching staff with the Philadelphia Eagles in the late 2000s and early 2010s.
In Caldwell's first year at the helm, the defense ranked 12th in points allowed and 24th in total yards. Also, they were fifth in takeaways. Last season, they were 17th in points surrendered, 22nd in total yards, and eighth in takeaways. While Travon Walker and Josh Allen combined for 17.5 sacks between the two, the rest of the defensive front accounted for seven.
On top of that, the Jaguars gave up 30 points or more four times in the last nine weeks. They allowed just 28 against the Tennessee Titans in the finale but that represented a season best for the division foe. Leaving aside the team's penchant for letting opponents score, the Jaguars routinely struggled to finish tackles.
In the finale, the Jags allowed Derrick Henry and Tyjae Spears to wreak havoc. In the following clip, you can see the defense's failure to track and tackle Henry.
The Jacksonville Jaguars had to move on from Mike Caldwell
The Jaguars' defense has its moments. However, their inability to tackle and their penchant for giving up too many big plays late in the 2023 season was one of the reasons they failed to make the playoffs even though they had a 99 percent chance of getting in following the win over the Houston Texans in Week 12.
In his first year in Jacksonville, there were also talks about Caldwell having to dial things back a bit because his scheme was a bit too complex, which in turn made it difficult for players to perform instinctively. It seems that after two years, Doug Pederson believed things weren't going to get much better.
The Jacksonville Jaguars will embark on a search for their new defensive coordinator. The opening should be appealing due to the presence of bookend pass rushers Josh Allen and Travon Walker, cornerbacks Tyson Campbell, Darious Williams, and safety Andre Cisco. One thing to keep an eye on is whether they'll stick to the 3-4 system Caldwell employed or change to a 4-3 scheme.