JACKSONVILLE – Defensive changes were expected, and a change came Tuesday.
Bob Babich, the Jaguars’ defensive coordinator the past three seasons, will not return in the position next season. The team announced the move Tuesday afternoon, two days after the 2015 regular-season finale.
The Jaguars finished 31st in the NFL in points allowed this past season.
The Jaguars ranked 24th in total yardage allowed (375 yards per game) after ranking 26th (370.8 ypg ) last season and 27th (379.4 yards per game) in 2013, and the defense particularly struggled this past season in key situations.
The Jaguars not only allowed 28.0 points per game in 2015, they finished 31st in the NFL in third-down defense, allowing a 46.3 percent conversion rate. They also were 25th in the NFL in red-zone defense, allowing touchdowns on 35 of 57 opportunities inside the 20 for a conversion rate of 61.4 percent.
The Jaguars forced 18 takeaways, tied for 25th in the NFL. They registered nine interceptions after six last season and 11 in 2013.
The pass rush was a major reason for the Jaguars’ defensive issues this past season. After finishing with 45 sacks in 2014, the Jaguars ranked 20th with 36 sacks in 2015.
The front registered 25 sacks, with the team’s Leo edge rushers –
Bradley during his day-after-the-regular-season press conference Monday had declined to speculate on potential staff changes before doing the “due diligence” to determine what moves were needed.
He said at the time while he expected to be more involved in defensive offseason planning and player evaluation, he hadn’t yet determined if he would be involved in the play calling.
“That’s [one of] the things I think [will be determined] as I gather information and [figure out], ‘Where is it at?’’’ Bradley said. “I think the obligation is [to] do what’s best for this organization, and that’s why I really want to gather all the information, see what’s best and go from there.”
The Jaguars under Bradley have run a hybrid scheme that combines elements of a four-lineman, three-linebacker defense with elements of a three-four scheme. It emphasizes stopping the run on early downs, and also emphasizes pressure on the quarterback from the Leo position.
Bradley used a similar scheme while the defensive coordinator with Seattle from 2010-2012. Seattle and Atlanta still utilize essentially the same scheme.
“There are going to be some things that you see within the scheme that are different,” Bradley said Monday. “There are things that we added within the season that were different and on third down that we haven’t done before. I think that you have your core principles and then you try to utilize the strengths of your players.”