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Ryan Nielsen, Jaguars New Defensive Coordinator, Holds First Press Conference: "We Have a Pretty Good Idea of Where We'll Start…"

021524 Ryan Nielsen Media Availability

*JACKSONVILLE – *Ryan Nielsen laid out his philosophy early and often.

Nielsen on Thursday afternoon met with the media for the first time in his new position as the Jaguars' defensive coordinator. He talked about approach more than specifics, emphasizing two words.

"We want to be attacking and aggressive in everything we do," he said.

He continued, saying "aggressive and attacking" defense is about "How we fit the run, how we attack blocks, how we play coverage. We want to be a forward-leaning, forward-running, going-forward defense. When we make our break, we're coming out of that break to go hit you.

"Those are the two things we want to stress every day."

Nielsen, who spent last season as the Atlanta Falcons' defensive coordinator, was hired as the Jaguars' defensive coordinator January 22. He spoke to the media Thursday at Miller Electric Center for about 15 minutes, emphasizing that aggressive means all levels of the defense – including the secondary – and offering his four defensive priorities:

  • Tackling. "You have to be a good tackling defense to be a good defense."
  • Takeaways. "The No. 1 way to limit points."
  • Ball disruption. "Making the offense play not on time, taking away a running lane or making a ball bounce or disrupting the quarterback."
  • Pursuit. "Keeping the ball inside, proper angles, running and hitting."

Added Nielsen, "That's what we're going to about. That's what we're going to stress. That will be the first thing we talk about with the guys before we even start talking the scheme or stance or anything like that. That will be our foundation and we'll go from there."

The Jaguars in 2023 ranked 22nd in the NFL in yards allowed (342.8) and 17th in points allowed (21.8), finishing eighth in takeaways (27) and 25th in sacks (40).

"They're talented," Nielsen said. "We've got a talented group. We've got some really good players and that's what was exciting and attracted us to the job here. Talent only gets you so far, so we're really excited to get to work with these guys.

"The guys seem very eager and to get going. It is a really good time to start building relationships, which is really huge in what we do. It's about relationships and people."

Nielsen on Thursday stayed general when discussing players and scheme, saying the coming months – into the offseason program in April, May and June – will be about determining positions and roles that most benefit players.

"We're going to put the player in a position that he can have success first, over the scheme," Nielsen said, adding of outside linebacker Travon Walker as an example: "We're going to evaluate everything that he does well, then if he can rush inside, we'll put him inside. If he's a better outside rusher, we'll keep him outside.

"We'll identify that once we get to OTAs (organized team activities). The process is never-ending. We'll put our guys in the best positions for them to have success and ultimately, we will have success on defense and as a team."

Nielsen said that process is ongoing in the next two months before the offseason program begins in mid-April. He added that while the defensive staff is largely in place, an announcement of the entire staff will come soon.

"All the coaches are having input on what we're doing," Nielsen said. "We've studied the roster in that we have a pretty good idea of where we'll start with our players and some of the techniques we would like to teach them. Then, we'll start moving them around to see what else they can do well.

"This is going to be our defense in Jacksonville: Our players, our coaches, our staff. It's not any place that anybody has been, it's a collaborative effort of all of ours together and that's what you'll see on Sundays."


  • Nielsen on joining the Jaguars: "This is a great place. This is a place we want to bring our family to and be a part of. This is a place we want to help take the next step. When we looked at the whole package and everything that was going on, there was no doubt this is where we wanted to be."


  • Nielsen, whose defense in Atlanta was described as favoring man coverage, said the Jaguars coverage scheme will be "mixing and matching. We're going to be playing different coverages and mix and match our coverages." He added, "As one of our coaches would like to say, 'Nothing cheap and nothing deep.' When you're press [coverage], you take away the quick game. We like to play shell. We take away the deep throws. It may look man – or man-ish – at times, but sometimes there's press bail and some nuances in the coverage that's actually a zone with tighter coverage on the outside. It's actually good that you see it like that because if we're viewed like that, then we drop into zone and it could be advantageous for us on defense. That's the process of what we're going through with the players. We definitely have everything in there, we know what we're starting with, what's it going to look like in the end. The new coaches and the new players together, we want to do what's best for everybody."

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