From the moment Urban Meyer was hired to head the Jacksonville Jaguars, he has been preaching the importance of the line of defense.
“I always believe that you are building your team around the defensive line and moving backwards. So that’s what we’re going to do. Our line of defense, we feel good about it, some of our players are pretty good, ”said Meyer on March 9th.
The new head coach didn’t just offer lip service when it came to that particular session, either. The Jaguars held seven from last season across their starting front. For those who make up the group, hearing their new coach’s motto creates confidence and excitement that has been lacking in recent years.
“You want to hear that,” defense attorney Adam Gotsis told Jaguar Report.
“You want to hear that the coach lays a lot on your shoulders and has a lot of responsibility for the direction of the team. I firmly believe that too. ”
Gotsis, the former Denver Bronco second round player who came to Jacksonville as a free agent in the 2020 off-season, enjoys this responsibility and is taking on the responsibility for a new team. The Defense Line admittedly saw a drop in production last season.
With veterans like Lerentee McCray and Al Woods signing out on COVID-19 concerns, Calais Campbell sold to the Baltimore Ravens, and injuries to end Josh Allen including decimating the pass rush, the unit floundered without pressure . But the unit is also one of the more seasoned groups of Jaguars with a new look, and when the boys return, Gotsis sees they are playing in their favor.
“I’ve played in games where it’s easier for the guys at the back end when we’re dominant at the front and it’s easier for the offensive to go out because we get three and more. Insult comes in more rhythms. So they know that we can dominate not only in the race but also in passing … sales and all that stuff that wins games, “said Gotsis.
“Coach Meyer has said that repeatedly, so it’s up to us to own this now, it’s up to us, [to] Enter the work and be the best D-lineman in the league. ”
When Gotsis arrived in 2020, it was a one-year free agent deal. After 14 starts at the end of the defensive (and appearing in all 16) Gotsis collected 37 tackles, four defeats, three defended passes and forced fumbling. When the market for free agents opened up, Gotsis tested it before deciding to sign with the Jaguars again. The confidence Meyer and new defensive coordinator Joe Cullen have in the unit is a big reason Gotsis wanted to stay in Jacksonville.
“Hear the mentality of the staff, talk to Coach Cullen, talk to him [defensive line] Coach Lupoi, Coach Meyer, all of these people, you know, you hear the mentality, the mindset, things like that. I know we have great players on the team … we have a great coaching team and we have changed things in the building that make things great around us, “said Gotsis.
“They create added value for us as players and it’s up to all of us to own that and dominate it now. It was pretty easy for my decision, you know, pretty easy when I heard Coach Cullen and I saw what kind of scheme they ran in Baltimore, and I really was – I liked their defense scheme, played in a similar one with Denver. So I know that I fit in with this defense and to hear that I am wanted there, to hear that I add an added value to this defense that makes me be there; that makes me want to play hard. ”
In addition to returning the top seven from the 2020 season – despite denying the option for the fifth year on defensive against Taven Bryan – the staff also brought more linemen to the free hand and draft, creating a depth that was ideal for rotation is.
In the free agency, the Jaguars Gotsis and Dawuane Smoot signed new contracts and at the same time Roy Roberson-Harris and Jihad Ward brought in. The club traded for Malcom Brown. In the most recent NFL draft of 2021, staff Jay Tufele and Jordan Smith tackled it.
With the defense set comes the implementation. It has long called for the Jags Defense to substitute out the 50 under players that were executed and instead do 3-4 or 4-3. something that offers more flexibility to deal with the emergence of spread and option offenses in the NFL.
“It’s like a 3-4 hybrid,” explains Gotsis. “So it’s pretty similar to what a lot of teams are currently playing in the league. Many are staff based, just like any team, you know you are just trying to find the best for who you are playing against and getting your guys in the best position. So I think most of the teams [are] is now based on the 3-4. ”
Gotsis points out some teams that play a real four-down defensive like the San Francisco 49ers, Buffalo Bills, and Dallas Cowboys, but “a lot of teams are like that, 3-4 hybrids, and then have a lot of different packages. ”
Defense rose from the college ranks, placing a linebacker / defensive end on the sidelines. The hybrid player has the ability to weather the onslaught or take cover while covering the barrel at the same time. It’s the position that got Josh Allen and K’Lavon Chaisson to drop out of college on the first round and figure out what they’re best suited to do.
“When you have guys up front who play multiple positions and they can play well, I think the 3-4 gives a bit more flexibility, allows you to move the guys a bit more, allows the guys to be more athletic bit more to use. Says Gotsis.
And after seeing a movie about what Cullen ran in Baltimore as Raven’s defensive line coach, the excitement multiplied.
“All of these guys who just dominate feel good about what we see and they know that when we put that work in and go out and dominate, you feel good.”
Starting work means the extra hours, the free hours, and the willingness to do it yourself. With the COVID-19 protocols severely limiting the opportunities for athletes in team facilities for the time being, players will have to take it upon themselves to prepare for the season. There’s a risk factor that shows in the recent injury to Bronco’s lineman Ja’Wuan James, who trained off-site and therefore could lose his entire salary for 2021 (a $ 10 million basis).
The Jaguars will open off-season OTA training on May 24th. Until then, the desire for improvement drives the unit that Meyer holds responsible for the team’s success. and they take it seriously.
A recent video posted on social media showed most of the line of defense in a park. It is the mentality that sees Gotsis grow out of the all-important line of defense and the overall organization of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Gotsis explains, “It’s hard to say no to, so you know it’s good that we have a lot of people down there and work hard together and put this thing together because you know you can’t just be great on Sundays. You have to be great every day, you have to win every day. And that’s the mentality, you know, attack every day, dominate every day and you know when the season comes we’ll be in a really good place. ”