JACKSONVILLE – Very, very good was not good enough.
If that has been the overriding theme of the Jaguars’ 2018 offseason, Todd Wash left doubt Wednesday that it’s true of the defense, too.
“We’ve got to get better at everything,” the Jaguars’ defensive coordinator said shortly after practice on Day 2 of 2018 Veteran Mandatory Minicamp at the Dream Finders Home Practice Complex Wednesday.
Wash, in his third season as the Jaguars’ coordinator, had perhaps the day’s money quote when speaking to the media Wednesday. Asked about the team’s offseason approach and how last season’s run to the AFC Championship Game is motivating players and coaches, Wash was succinct.
“We did not accomplish jack last year,” Wash said. “That’s the mentality we’re going with, and you can see they have a chip on their shoulder and want to get better every day.”
Wash made clear in his 10 minutes speaking with the media a day before the end of the offseason program that that – improving on a good season that wasn’t good enough – has been the offseason theme for a defense that ranked second in the NFL last season in yards allowed, sacks and interceptions.
“We did not play as well as we wanted to, even though we did have some success,” Wash said. “We can get better and our players know that we can get better. As coaches, we have to be able to find more ways to put them in the position to be successful.
“They’re talented. We’ve got to get them in that position and get the hell out of the way.”
The Jaguars’ defensive personnel remained largely unchanged in the offseason, with the major change being the loss of nickel corner Aaron Colvin as an unrestricted free agent and the signing of UFA D.J. Hayden to take Colvin’s place. The team also lost veteran middle linebacker Paul Posluszny to retirement, with third-year veteran Myles Jack expected to move to the middle full time after playing strong-side linebacker in base-defense situations last season.
Second-year linebacker Blair Brown could move into the strong-side linebacker role, and Wash said Wednesday Brown is one of multiple players capable of playing the role. He also spoke highly of the progress of rookie seventh-round linebacker Leon Jacobs.
“He’s a quick learner,” Wash said of Jacobs. “He really does a nice job of what we’re asking him to do and understanding the checks. We look forward to seeing him in pads [in training camp].”
Whereas the Jaguars entered last season with players such as end Calais Campbell, cornerback A.J. Bouye and safety Barry Church entering their first season in the system, Hayden and rookie reserve defensive end Taven Bryan are the only front-line players new to the system.
Continuity has had a positive effect in terms of players’ knowledge of the scheme, Wash said.
“We’ve been done with installs [of the scheme] for a couple of, three days now,” Wash said. “We’re just adding stuff that we do during the year whereas last year we were not. We were still installing at this point in time. We’re ahead of the schedule there.
“Being the second year in the system, it allows us to do more things and situational football because our guys understand what’s asked of them and what the call is designed to do. It’s very encouraging and obviously it’s a joy being on the grass with them. They’re making great strides.”
Wash said the continuity also can be seen in the speed the unit has shown during the offseason.
“There’s no doubt; they’re out there playing fast,” Wash said. “They’re communicating extremely well – pre-snap indicators and all of that kind of stuff. It’s a credit to them. They’ve all played together for a year and they trust each other. They’re playing faster.”