Envisioning Change: Jaguars D-line
In previous installments of the Envisioning Change series, we’ve had looks at the new defensive line pieces in Chicago as well as what Tampa Bay has added on offense. Today’s edition focuses on the work Jacksonville has done to alter the look of their D-line.
Taking over the Jaguars after three season as Seattle’s defensive coordinator, Head Coach Gus Bradley was expected to bring some notion of that Seattle defense with him. While that Northwest influence was apparent in 2013, it might be impossible to overlook this season.
A pair of Seattle stalwarts — Chris Clemons and Red Bryant — have been called South to join the Jaguar D and help Bradley more effectively mimic the fronts Seattle deployed under his watch. Additionally, Jacksonville brought in Ziggy Hood from Pittsburgh with an eye toward slotting him back into a position he’s better suited for and the team re-signed Jason Babin to be a factor in their Leo rotation.
Essentially adding without subtracting, Jacksonville has assembled a deeper line that will alow for more situational mixing and matching. Here’s a fun look at the returnees and new parts all on the field together, lined up to mirror the ‘under’ that has been so effective for the Seahawks:
PFF’s Steve Palazzolo was kind enough to offer some analysis of the new members of the line:
Bryant will assume a similar role to the one he played in Seattle as the run-stopping defensive end in Jacksonville’s system. He’ll generally line up on the strong side, head up on the tackle, and he’ll be charged with controlling the B and C gaps (either side of the tackle) in the running game. While he’s listed as a 4-3 defensive end, Bryant’s role is similar to that of a 3-4 DE.
While the position doesn’t call for a lot of pass rushing production, Bryant has showed well as a run stopper, grading positively in three of the last four years against the run. The Jaguars will expect more of the same. Bryant appears a lock to start and replace Tyson Alualu who finished at -15.4 in a similar role a year ago.
Like Bryant, Clemons will step right into a familiar role from his Seattle days. He’ll assume the Jaguars “Leo” defensive end spot which is primarily a pass rushing position. The Leo generally lines up on the weak side of the formation, often ensuring a clean path toward the quarterback with no tight end to worry about on chips and double teams. One of the league’s best edge rushers in recent years, he has posting pass rush grades of +1.4, +24.5, +16.9, and +26.4 each season dating back to 2010.
Clemons will see his fair share of snaps, but he likely won’t have to carry the bulk of the workload with the re-signing of Jason Babin who graded at -4.3 overall and +6.1 as a pass rusher. Third-year defensive end Andre Branch could also be in the mix, but his time may be up after two seasons providing little impact off the edge (-8.1 pass rush in 2013).
After five disappointing seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Jaguars are hoping to salvage Hood’s career. The former first-rounder struggled in his role as a 5-technique defensive end in Pittsburgh’s system, but the Jaguars plan on kicking him inside and trying his hand at 3-technique. Many analysts pegged Hood for this role coming out of college, so Jacksonville is hoping it was more a case of his being mis-cast rather than being overmatched. Hood will compete with incumbent starter Sen’Derrick Marks who was perhaps the best Jaguars defensive lineman a year ago grading at +3.2 overall including a +12.2 pass rush grade.