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DC Mike Caldwell: "You have to affect the quarterback"


JACKSONVILLE – The defensive specifics are yet to be determined.

What is known about the Jaguars' defense moving forward is coordinator Mike Caldwell is aggressive. And as he sees it, that's ideally what the defense will be, too.

"That's just my nature," Caldwell said.

Jaguars Head Coach Doug Pederson, hired as head coach February 4, was a teammate of Caldwell's with the Philadelphia Eagles in 1999. Pederson said Caldwell's aggressive mindset "fits what we do."

"Those are the conversations Mike and I have had," Pederson said. "We want to maintain the aggressiveness. We want to be able to put our players in position to make plays and present a picture to the offense where maybe you don't know where a blitz is coming from.

"It takes players, too. We understand that. I'm excited for him."

Caldwell, introduced as the Jaguars' defensive coordinator Friday, cited influences such as Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, the late Jim Johnson and Baltimore Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh – all of whom are aggressive.

"I believe as a coach, when you're on defense you have to affect the quarterback and you have to affect the offense," Caldwell said. "That enables you to go out there and be successful."

Caldwell will coordinate a defense that has struggled in recent seasons after ranking in the Top 10 each season from 2016-2018. The Jaguars ranked 28th in the NFL in points allowed and 20th in yards allowed in 2021 while ranking last in the NFL with nine takeaways.

"If you're attacking on defense, you're going to make the offense adjust to what you're doing," Caldwell said. "If you affect them the right way, now it disrupts their timing. Advantage: defense."

Caldwell, 50, spent the past three seasons as the Buccaneers' inside linebackers coach. He played linebacker 11 NFL seasons with six teams and has coached with four teams. This is his first coordinator position.

"I'm excited about it," Caldwell said. "Now, I get a chance to put my stamp on it. I've sat in many a defensive staff room. Every idea doesn't line up every time. Now, I get input and now I have a chance to develop the ideas the way I see it. I'm excited about the opportunity and ready to roll."

The Jaguars also this week hired: Bob Sutton senior defensive assistant, Brentson Buckner defensive line, Bill Shuey outside linebackers, Tony Gilbert inside linebackers, Cody Grimm safeties, Deshea Townsend secondary/cornerbacks, Rory Segrest assistant defensive line and Patrick Reilly defensive quality control.

"We (he and Pederson) talked about it," Caldwell said. "At the end, it's Doug's decision. I sold the guys I wanted. He had guys he wanted. I think the staff is exceptional."

Pederson on Friday emphasized the presence of Sutton, a 22-year NFL coaching veteran who spent last season as the Jaguars' defensive assistant and who has nine years' experience as an NFL coordinator (Kansas City Chiefs, 2013-2018; New York Jets, 2006-2008).

"That's a big step for him to use," Pederson said, with Caldwell adding: "Bob will be a great resource. He has a bunch of knowledge. It's something I can bang an idea off or have him bring an idea to me. He's a guy I'm going to lean on."

The Jaguars ran a 3-4-based scheme under coordinator Joe Cullen in 2020 after being mostly a 4-3 scheme under former coordinator Todd Wash. Pederson and Caldwell on Friday both said the scheme moving forward will be based on personnel.

"What the Jaguars players do well, we'll let them do that," Caldwell said. "There's not going to be a 'We're going to be this type of defense.' We're going to look at the personnel, understand what they do well, let them. Once you see what you have, then you'll be able to utilize those pieces and get the best out of them."

Added Pederson, "Every year, you hit the reset button and try to figure out the identity. We're about to get into free agency, the draft is coming up and things are going to look different. You get into the offseason program and you're trying to figure things out.

"Identity-wise, it's kind of hard to put a thumb on it right now."

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