The Jacksonville Jaguars announced they've parted ways with defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell one day after the humiliating loss to the Tennessee Titans in the 2023 finale. They also moved on from most of their defensive assistants, except for outside linebacker Billy Shuey, defensive quality control coach Patrick Reilly, and assistant defensive line coach Rory Segrest.
Now, the Jags will embark on a search for Caldwell's replacement. Whoever fills the opening will have a bit of talent to work with. Outside linebacker Josh Allen is coming off a career season. Travon Walker, the first overall pick in the 2022 draft, also made a leap in Year 2. Cornerback Darious Williams had a Pro Bowl caliber campaign and Tyson Campbell should bounce back in 2024 after dealing with injuries last year. There's also safety Andre Cisco, along with linebackers Foyesade Oluokun and Devin Lloyd.
The Jaguars' next defensive coordinator will need to focus on fundamentals, having players fill assignments, and finishing tackles, something they struggled with under Caldwell. The team's brass will need to cast a wide net in the search, and there will not be a shortage of candidates. Here are four they should focus on.
4. Jim Leonhard, Illinois senior football analyst
Jim Leonard has worked his way up the coaching ranks and maybe he's ready for the leap to defensive coordinator in the NFL, having previously held that position in college. A former player, Leonard brings lots of expertise to the job. After going undrafted in 2006, the former Wisconsin Badger signed with the Buffalo Bills. He later spent time with the Baltimore Ravens, the New York Jets, the Denver Broncos, and the New Orleans.
Once Leonard hung up the cleats in 2014, he returned to his alma mater to begin his coaching career. He was Wisconsin's defensive backs coach in 2016. He got promoted to defensive coordinator the following year and became their interim head coach in 2022. He interviewed for the Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator position before getting hired as a senior football analyst at Illinois.
As noted before, Leonard has had a myriad of roles, and that vast experiece could be useful in Jacksonville. That said, the Jaguars may be hesitant to bring in hasnexperience't been a coordinator at the NFL because Mike Caldwell had no experience at the position when he got the job.