Mirror, Mirror On The Wall, Do The Seahawks Reflect In Duval?
By Troy Graham
New Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley has left Seattle, but how he achieved that success with the Seahawks shows clear in the rearview mirror. Looking at how he has reconstructed the Jags roster since he joined the franchise in January, the new additions reflect how he rebuilt the ‘Hawks.
The process all started with the draft. Luke Joeckel was the best player available in the draft for their first round selection so they picked him. From the past couple of drafts, Seattle tended to stay faithful to the rule of drafting the best player remaining. The most prime example was the selection of Russell Wilson in the 2012 draft even after critics were sold on the signing of Matt Flynn at quarterback, a pick which makes them seem like the smartest team in that draft.
Shades of Seattle showed more as the draft drifted on: John Cyprien was selected at safety in the second round, Dwayne Gratz at cornerback in the third, Josh Evans at safety in the sixth, Jeremy Harris and Demetrius McCray both cornerbacks were selected in the last round.
After looking at last season it’s fair to say the Jags could use an upgrade in every position, but the one of the most noticeable improvements in the Seahawks efforts to move out the flock of mediocrity into the NFL’s elite was found in the defensive backfield. Anyone who disagrees, cornerback Richard Sherman would be sure to tell them otherwise.
Marcus Trufant, a former pro-bowler and veteran role model for the Seattle defense, might be the quietest free agent acquisitions at cornerback that can show massive upside for the Jags.
“I just finished my 10th year, so I’m able to bring some wisdom to the table,” Trufant told the team website. Needles to say in the later years of his career, his previous three years in Gus Bradley’s system can help mold the youth from the draft.
In front of that defensive backfield is a line of hefty players Bradley plans to turn the curve with moving forward in upgrading this team. Other than getting Patriot leftovers in Brandon Deadrick and Kyle Love, there hasn’t been any neck breaking improvements. On the other hand the debut coach has kept consistency on the line.
It wasn't necessarily a drastic overhaul by not keeping Austin Lane, C.J. Mosley, Jeris Pendleton and Terrance Knighton, but it showed strong planning by keeping a core of players with upside including Tyson Alualu, Andre Branch, Jeremy Mincey and a veteran in Jason Babin. Babi can be a player who can play the role of another crafty older guy on the defense who could almost be used similar to how the new HC used Chris Clemons at the defensive end position in Seattle, a former pro-bowler in their 30s who has young guys to spell them, in order not to get them too gassed during pass rush situations.
According to NFL.com that position, known as the “Leo” on defense, is where Babin is penciled in as going into the preseason.
“It's a position that I can only dream about because you're going to line up on a tackle or you're going to line up on the open side, and you're going to rush the quarterback every down, for the most part," Babin said. "I don't think I could ask for anything more than that.”
Reflecting on it all, it seems the majority of the coach’s efforts have been primarily funneled towards the defense. Nevertheless, the offense of the Jags, yes the Jacksonville Jaguars are showing some progression to a style the Seahawks possess as well.
Former Texans running back Justin Forsett spent three years in Seattle with Gus Bradley prior to 2012 and fills the void of Maurice Jones-Drew not having a change of pace backup. With an improved offensive line and now another player in the backfield with experience, the quarterback mystery of uncertainty isn’t all bad as there are positives to lean on.
Including, Jed Fisch at offensive coordinator. A coach who not only been mentored by former super bowl champion coach Mike Shanahan for the Redskins and former super bowl champion coach Brian Billick from his stint with the Ravens, Fisch was also mentored by current Seahawks coach Pete Carroll during his Southern California days.
The 2013 season may not lead to the Jags flying up through the standings like the Seahawks did in 2012, but with everything that transpired so far they could turn some heads.
Mirrors never lie, but Bradley hopes the one he looks into reflects a Jags team he rebuilt and mirrors the success of the most recent ‘Hawks.