After a frustrating end to the season from the Jaguars defense, Mike Caldwell was fired. Shortly after that, the Jaguars made a move for their defensive coordinator position. The Jaguars hire Ryan Nielsen to fill that role, in the first of many moves in the Jaguars offseason.

Jaguars Hire Ryan Nielsen

For Ryan Nielsen, he comes over from the Falcons defensive coordinator position. A huge get for the Jaguars, as he was one of the most intriguing coaching candidates available on the defensive side of the ball. Last season, Ryan Nielsen went from the Saints defensive line coach to the Falcons defensive coordinator position. In a sign of how respected Nielsen is, Cam Jordan, the Saints star defensive lineman, sang his praise for Nielsen.

Nielsen led a depleted Falcons defense to one of the better overall defensive units in EPA per play, despite having a very poor pass rush unit. The Falcons’ defense in the 2023 season over-performed based on the personnel that Ryan Nielsen was given. With a more equipped defensive unit in Jacksonville, the Jaguars are set up to see improvement on the defensive side of the ball. After the Jaguars Hire Ryan Nielsen, the next step is resigning Josh Allen to a deal. Giving Nielsen pass rushers is one of the most important moves of the season for the Jaguars.

The Jaguars Hire Ryan Nielsen: What To Expect

Jacksonville Jaguars Defense - Kam Nedd/Jacksonville Jaguars

Jacksonville Jaguars Defense – Kam Nedd/Jacksonville Jaguars

When Ryan Nielsen was hired to be the Falcons defensive coordinator, one of the questions people had was the design of his scheme for the Falcons. At the time, Nielsen said that he wanted his defense to “stop people” per team reporter Tori McElhaney. That report carried over to the Falcons season defensively. Despite a lack of talent along the front seven, the Falcons found a lot of general success as a defense.

The decision to bring Nielsen in for the Jaguars job has been met with a lot of praise from reporters around the league. Doing more with less is always a sign that a coach is doing something right, and with increased talent along the defensive front, combined with a comparable, if not better, defensive backfield, the Jaguars’ defense should take a massive step in the right direction.

If there’s one main takeaway, it’s that Nielsen will find ways to utilize his pass rushers to the fullest. Jaguars hire Ryan Nielsen is the perfect coach for a Jaguars defensive line that’s on the cusp of figuring things out. Josh Allen broke out as a top pass rusher, while Travon Walker began to find his groove in his sophomore season.

Jacksonivlle Jaguars LB Foyesade Oluokun (23), and OLB Josh Allen (41) - Nicholas Bastoky/Jacksonville Jaguars

Jacksonville Jaguars LB Foyesade Oluokun (23), and OLB Josh Allen (41) – Nicholas Bastoky/Jacksonville Jaguars

When the Jaguars hire Ryan Nielsen, Nielsen will bring one huge asset from the Falcons defense. That’s how great the Falcons run defense was in the 2023 season. The Falcons had the best run defense in the NFL for the 2023 season, something that can drastically affect the game, especially with how great the Jaguars’ secondary is. But, that leads to the only notable issue with the Jaguars hiring of Ryan Nielsen; a defensive coordinator that uses more man coverage than zone.

A change in the scheme isn’t something to overlook, especially when the change is as drastic as it is for Jaguars hire Ryan Nielsen. The defensive change from a more zone-heavy defense to a more man-heavy defense will be the biggest challenge. Polar opposite defensive coverage schemes will make the offseason an interesting one for the Jaguars. Ryan Nielsen and the Falcons ran man coverage at the third-highest rate in the NFL, while the Jaguars were ranked 31st. Such a huge change to the defensive philosophy will be something to watch, especially as the Jaguars try to construct a better defense for 2024 and beyond.

Jaguars Hire Ryan Nielsen: Final Thoughts

Jacksonville Jaguars CB Darious Williams (31), and OLB Josh Allen (41) - Nicholas Bastoky/Jacksonville Jaguars

Jacksonville Jaguars CB Darious Williams (31), and OLB Josh Allen (41) – Nicholas Bastoky/Jacksonville Jaguars

At the end of the day, despite the fairly large change in defensive scheme, the Jaguars made a home-run hire. Ryan Nielsen has been a favorite of many in the NFL world, both players, coaches, and media alike. The defensive backfield in Jacksonville is comparable in talent to the Falcons, and there’s a chance that the defense will adjust quickly to the new scheme. But, there’s one area that is going to see a huge boost thanks to the Jaguars hire Ryan Nielsen.

That is the defensive line. When given the linemen on the Falcons, despite their youth and lack of high-end talent, the Falcons’ defensive line outperformed expectations by a considerable margin. While not trying to take a stab at the Falcons’ defensive line, the Jaguars’ defensive line is that much better. Josh Allen and Travon Walker alone make the Jaguars defensive line a tough one to stop, but adding in a defensive coordinator who’ll get the best out of both of those players is a recipe for success.

“The Jaguars Hire Ryan Nielsen” is the best first step the Jaguars could’ve made in their offseason. After a collapse like the Jaguars had, massive changes are welcome, especially on the defensive side of the ball that struggled in the second half of the year. Ryan Nielsen is a fantastic hire for the Jaguars and should be a major contributor to a defense that makes strides in the right direction in the 2024 season.