Coaching Carousel in Jacksonville

When the Jaguars season ended with a 31-20 playoff defeat at the hands of the AFC Champion New England Patriots, many Jaguars fans and media alike believed that the team's coaching staff would likely remain the same entering 2008. And for the first time during Jack Del Rio's tenure as Jaguars head coach, Del Rio didn't have to fire any assistant coaches in the offseason.

Coaching continuity for the Jaguars? This is the NFL, not so much.

First, defensive coordinator Mike Smith interviewed for the Atlanta Falcons head coaching job and was hired by that currently dysfunctional organization. It remains to be seen whether or not it was a great move for coach Smith, but he always wanted to become a head coach, and the Jaguars organization certainly seemed to support him. When Smith left, he took former Jaguars defensive line coach Ray Hamilton and Alvin Reynolds, and the coaching shakeup officially began for the Jaguars.

Following Hamilton's and Reynolds' departures, longtime secondary coach and former head coach Dave Campo decided to leave for greener pastures as Campo returned "home" to Dallas, where he started his coaching career under Jimmy Johnson in 1989, and eventually moved up to defensive coordinator, before being hired as a head coach in 2000.

The Jaguars knew that replacing Mike Smith, Alvin Reynolds, Ray Hamilton, and Dave Campo would be no easy task, and there's no way to tell how much of the team's success was attributed to these four football minds. But like any successful team that gets it's coaching staff raided, Jacksonville was forced to find suitable replacements, and that's what they did with their new hires.

The first new coaching hire by the team was former Detroit Lions defensive coordinator Donnie Henderson. Henderson was a defensive coordinator for the New York Jets for two seasons, preceding his taking the same position with Detroit in 2006. What will Henderson's role be? Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio said definitively–

"His role will be defined later."

We obviously know that Henderson will have some role on the defense, and our best guess is in the secondary, but at this time, we have no idea exactly what coach Henderson will be doing.

The Jaguars next order of business was to find someone to replace Mike Smith as the team's new defensive coordinator. The Jaguars struck quick with a few interviews and eventually ended up landing what is quite likely coach Del Rio's biggest "splash" during his tenure, former Redskins defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. Williams was touted as the best coach available after he interviewed for the Washington head coaching job when Joe Gibbs retired and was rebuffed by eccentric Redskins owner Dan Snyder. Williams is an ultra aggressive defensive mind who likes to bring pressure and keep his corners on somewhat of an island, a vast disparity from the philosophies of coach Smith. Perhaps the biggest question about the Williams hire is how much will coach Del Rio be involved in the game plan. Williams is a do-it-yourselfer, and works best when his head coach gives him "space."

One of the final coaching hires was the addition of former University of Kentucky defensive backs coach, Thom Kaumeyer. Kaumeyer was a former defensive coordinator at Tulane University, and former defensive backs coach at San Diego State, prior to accepting the job in Lexington. So what will Kaumeyer's role be in Jacksonville? Definitively, to help with the defensive backs, according to Jack Del Rio.

In addition to these hires, the Jaguars gave Tom Williams and Ted Monachino promotions, and the front office let former Director of Pro Personnel Charles Bailey go, and promoted Gene Smith, the former Director of College Scouting.

The Jaguars have made a lot of changes in the front office in a time which there was supposed to be coaching continuity. Now the team will have to listen to a partially new set of voices, and have a new mind helping to call the shots. Will they take a step back? I don't think so. The defense was the weak link in 2007, and most of the changes were on the defensive side of the ball. Perhaps a new set of voices and a different scheme will help the Jaguars get back to that physical reputation that has preceded them over the last four years, it can't hurt.


Charlie Bernstein is the Editor-in-Chief of JagNation.com, and a regular syndicated contributor to FoxSports.com, Sirius NFL Radio, MySpace Sports and Sportsillustrated.com. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers Association, and is a columnist for the New Smyrna Observer. Feel free to contact him -HERE- with questions or comments.



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