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Slam dunk for Tice


Mike Tice was asked why he chose Jacksonville. "Why not Jacksonville?" Tice responded.

"I had some other things going on, but when Jack called I was very enthused. He's a very good football coach and a very good friend. They have an excellent organization. The type of talent they have is the type of talent you have to have to take it to the next level. That's the definition of Jacksonville right now: Excellent coach, excellent coordinators and excellent talent," Tice added of his decision to join Jack Del Rio's coaching staff as the Jaguars' assistant head coach/offense.

Tice is one of two coaches Del Rio added to his staff this week. The other addition is linebackers coach Mark Duffner, the former Maryland head coach and Cincinnati Bengals defensive coordinator.

"Any time you get fired it's difficult. We didn't accomplish enough. A new owner wants to bring in his guys so you move on and you look for the next-best situation. It was a slam dunk that Jacksonville was that situation," Tice said of having rebounded from being fired as head coach of the Minnesota Vikings.

What will Tice's role be with the Jaguars?

"The role will grow as we progress. Most importantly, I'll be able to help one of my former teammates, Andy Heck, in his first year as a line coach. Hopefully, I'll be able to help him become a premier coach; be able to help the tight end group and help make that an elite group," Tice said.

Tice and Del Rio are also former teammates and Tice is familiar with Offensive Coordinator Carl Smith, with whom Tice worked the past three summers in the "Manning Football Camp."

"First and foremost you have to be able to run the football when you want to run the football. As I get to know the offensive philosophy, we'll be able to formulate a plan that'll give us an opportunity to be an elite offense," Tice said.

Tice said he expects to return to Jacksonville in the middle of next week, while the rest of the Jaguars staff is on vacation. Tice wants to be settled in and ready to go when the staff returns to the office on Feb. 13.

"You win championships in this league with great defense. Any time you can do that you have the ability to take it to the next level. Now, can we turn that offense into an elite offense. That's the goal," Tice said.

Duffner has been hard at work since Monday. "We've hit the ground running. We started meeting on defense, talking scheme evaluation and free-agent evaluation," Duffner said.

Duffner comes to the Jaguars from Green Bay. He replaces Brian VanGorder as linebackers coach on a defense that ranked sixth in the league in 2005. Duffner is the position coach on a team that's expected to fortify that position in free agency and in the draft, and he coaches a position that is protected by the game's best defensive tackle tandem.

"In nine years in the league, I haven't had the privilege of having that front," Duffner said of tackles Marcus Stroud and John Henderson. "That's where it starts; in the middle.

"I like what I see of Mike Peterson. He's improved in his professional career. I liked Daryl Smith and what he might do coming out of college. It's a good corps right here. I like this style of defense. There are some strains of this defense I have been exposed to," Duffner said.

His coaching career began as a graduate assistant under Woody Hayes at Ohio State, following a college playing career at William and Mary, where he was recruited by Lou Holtz.

"I have real energy and enthusiasm and passion for the game; passion for teaching the game. I'm very impressed with what I've seen from afar and how coach Del Rio runs this team," Duffner said.

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