JACKSONVILLE – A word of caution to Jaguars observers:
If you expect fundamental changes to the team's base defense, you may be disappointed.
While observers throughout the offseason have speculated about the team moving from a 4-3 defensive scheme to a 3-4 in 2020, defensive coordinator Todd Wash said any scheme change will be relatively subtle.
"We're not a true 3-4 or two-gap team," Wash said recently. "That's not how we're built up front – or the size of our unit – to do that."
Wash was asked if observers were "just kind of making a big deal of the 3-4 stuff."
"That would be a correct statement," he said.
Wash said what will define the defense in 2020 more than scheme will be how versatile players such as Josh Allen, Yannick Ngakoue, Cassius Marsh, Aaron Lynch and K'Lavon Chaisson – players who can play linebacker and defensive end – are used in various situations.
"It's funny: everybody says we're going to a 3-4," Wash said. "You will see some different fronts, but we want to still continue to give teams a lot of multiple looks. Most importantly, we want to put the players on our roster in a position to be successful in any scheme that they fit.
"You're going to see a lot of fronts that we've run through the years within this system that just match the personality and the skill set of our players."
A 3-4 defense typically is based on a "two-gap" defensive front, meaning defensive linemen occupy blockers while consuming space and defending gaps on either side of where they line up. The Jaguars in recent seasons have been more of a one-gap defense, with linemen penetrating and pressuring in the backfield while attacking a specific gap.
Wash said that won't change significantly.
"We're not built to be a two-gap team; we're still going to be one-gap, single-high," Wash said. "It's just guys playing different spots, changing some alignment. We have not installed a different front from what we've had in our system the past two years. Leverages and alignments are going to be a little different within our scheme.
"You're going to see the outside linebacker on the line of scrimmage more because that's the skillset of the guys we have. Everybody's saying a 3-4, but if you look at our system the last two years, we've had three different front families based out of the 3-4, but nobody considered us a 3-4."
Wash on Allen, the No. 7 overall selection in the 2019 NFL Draft who had 10.5 sacks last season as a rookie: "The biggest thing we're looking for from him is to continue to improve, continue to make impact plays – which he has. As a coach, you always want a young man to continue to develop as a leader within our unit. Obviously, losing some veterans up front, everybody's saying, 'We need Josh to be a leader … We need Josh to be a leader…' The biggest thing is we just need him to continue to improve as a player fundamentally. The leadership stuff will naturally come. I don't think as a coach you can say, 'Hey, this our leader. We need you to become our leader.' I think it's just naturally going to happen. He has shown that already in this offseason, taking control of some things within our defensive-line unit.''
MARRONE ON STAFF ADDITIONS
The Jaguars last week hired Tony Gilbert as assistant linebackers coach and Denard Robinson as offensive quality control coach. Gilbert played linebacker for the Jaguars from 2003-2006, and since 2010 has coached at Georgia, Auburn, East Mississippi Community College, Georgia Military College, John Milledge Academy, North Carolina and Central Florida. "I've been tracking Tony for a while," Marrone said. "He started out in junior college and was able to get on at UCF and helped them with the linebackers. I really felt good about getting Tony on board here, and he's excited to come." Robinson played running back for the Jaguars from 2013-16, rushing for 1,058 yards and five touchdowns. "I really think he has a great skill set as far as knowledge of a guy that has played quarterback, running back, receiver – he can do a lot of different things, his knowledge of those positions," Marrone said. "His ability to learn really put him in a position of leadership down the road. We feel really fortunate to have him."