How The Jaguars Coaching Staff Came To Be

Joel LefevreAnalyst IMay 12, 2009

Being a coach in professional sports is as tough a job as any you can think of.  If you win you look like a genius and you lose it's all your fault.  The play calling is an essential part of the game of football and it's something that can make or break you. Calling plays in the NFL requires coaches who are strong mentally and are always thinking the next step ahead.  The success of the Jaguars this season will have something to do with how well the coaching staff plans out games and how they can adjust in game situations.  Here is a profile of the Jaguars coaching staff and how they got the responsibilities of making decisions for this team.

We'll start with the man in charge, head coach Jack Del Rio.  Going into his seventh season as Jaguars head coach Del Rio is one of only nine current NFL coaches who has accumulated at least 50 wins as a coach.  Known in his playing days as a nasty hard nosed linebacker Del Rio has brought that same approach to the Jaguars since taking over as coach in 2003.  An all-american at USC Del Rio was always known as a competitor put always had a sharp mind for the game of football.  Del Rio had a respectable 11 year career with five different NFL teams.  While never really in the spotlight for much of his career Del Rio was always a great team player and quietly had a decent career amassing 13 sacks and 13 interceptions in 160 NFL games.  His best season came in 1994 as a member of the Minnesota Vikings Del Rio earned his only Pro Bowl selection and was also named to the all-pro team that season.  Since retiring from the game in 1996 he has worked his way up the NFL coaching ranks.  For two season he was the strengths and conditioning coach for the New Orleans Saints.  From there he moved on to become the Baltimore Ravens linebackers coach in 99 and 2000, winning the Super Bowl in 2000 with the Ravens.  His time in Baltimore was probably the first time Jack Del Rio was really noticed as a great coach as the Ravens boasted one of the most impressive defenses the NFL has ever seen.  In his two seasons there he coached an incredible group of linebackers that included Peter Boulware, Jamie Sharper, and Super Bowl XXXV MVP Ray Lewis among others.  Since being named coach of the Jaguars in 03 he has brought a smash mouth in your face attitude to this team that now prides themselves on their tough as nails defence.  Del Rio has been known to be a gutsy coach in terms of his decision making.  Point in case was the 2007 season when Del Rio gambled on fourth down over 30 times in the regular season and converted about half those attempts.  He has also been known to throw in a trick play or two as was seen in last seasons game against Buffalo on a surprise onside kick by Scobee.  Del Rio's mind is constantly in game mode and his decision making and the confidence he has in his team is contagious with all the players.

On the offensive side of the ball Dirk Koetter is going into his third season as the Jags offensive coordinator.  Playing High School ball at Highland in Idaho, Koetter went on to play college football a Idaho State where he received a masters degree in athletic administration in 1982.  After finishing college Koetter returned to Highland where he was head coach in the 83 and 84 seasons before becoming a full-time college assistant coach.  From 1985-97 he was an offensive coordinator for San Fransisco State, UTEP, Missouri, Boston College and Oregon.  In 1998 after years of paying dues Koetter got his big break and was named head coach of Boise State.  He spent three seasons at Boise winning two Humanitarian Bowls and posting an impressive 26-10 record during that time.  in 2001 he was named head coach of the Arizona State Sun Devils where he coached for six seasons.  During his tenure with the Sun Devils the team made it to four bowl games winning the Sun Bowl in 04 and the Insight Bowl in 05.  After a long and distinguished career as a college coach Koetter joined the Jaguars for the 07 season as offensive coordinator.  He has made an immediate impact with the club as in his first season with the club the Jags offence from 10th ranked in 06 to 7th in 07.  He also helped the offence set a franchise single season record for points with 411 in 07.  With the signing of Torrey Holt, Koetter who is known for his expertise in the passing game will no doubt be looking to put in some more deep passes in the Jaguars playbook.

Mel Tucker is entering his first season as the defensive coordinator for the Jaguars and will have his hands full turning around a defence that was ranked 17th last season.  In his younger days Tucker was renowned for his athletic ability as he was a standout basketball and football player at Cleveland Heights High School.  After High School Tucker played College football for four years at the University of Wisconsin as a linebacker.  In 1985 he graduated with a degree in agricultural business management.  Tucker started his coaching career as an assistant to Nick Saban in 97 at Michigan State.  After two seasons at Michigan State he moved on to become the defensive backs coach at Miami of Ohio for the 99 season.  He spent the year 2000 reunited with old boss Nick Saban at Louisiana State, assuming the same duties he did at Michigan State.  Following one season in Louisiana Tuckered moved on to be a defensive backs coach for four years at Ohio State and was promoted to co-defensive coordinator in 2004.  in 2005 Tucker had finally made the big time being named defensive back coach for the Cleveland Browns.  In 2008 he was Romeo Crennel promoted him to defensive coordinator.  In his four seasons in Cleveland the Browns ranked fifth with 73 interceptions and allowed the fourth fewest completions of 25 plus yards with 78.  In his first season as Jags defensive coordinator Tucker will be counted upon to improve a pass defence that was a dismal 24th last season and cause only 13 interceptions.  His defensive play calling should bode well for the likes or corner-back Rashean Mathis and safety Reggie Nelson who are very aggressive and known to be a handful to match up against. 

On Special teams Russ Purnell enters his first season as special teams coach in Jacksonville.  Playing college football at Orange Coast junior college Purnell transferred to Whittier college where he served as a graduate assistant in 1970.  He began his coaching career in 1972 at Corona Del Mar High School before moving on to coach Edison High from 73-81.  He later made the jump to the college ranks becoming the special teams and tight ends coach at Southern California from 82-85.  Purnell then made the jump to the professional ranks joining the Seattle Seahawks in 1986.  He was the tight ends/assistant special teams coach with Seattle before taking over both duties with the club in 1992.  He would spend two more seasons in Seattle before joining the Special teams of the Houston Oilers in 1995.  He was the special teams coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens from 99-01 coaching outstanding pro bowlers Matt Stover and Jermaine Lewis during his time and winning a Super Bowl in 2000.  From 2002-2008 he was in charge of the special teams with the Indianapolis Colts winning another Super Bowl in 2006.  It should be noted that Purnell is 1 of only 21 coaches to win a Super Bowl with two different NFL teams.

Last but certainly not least we have Jaguars assistant/tight ends coach Mike Tice.  Tice played College football as a quarterback for the University of Maryland.  Following a successful college career Tice had to transition from being a quarterback to playing in the NFL as a tight end.  It's a transition he would make quickly and successfully for 14 seasons in the NFL.  During that time Tice amassed 107 receptions for 894 yards and 11 touchdowns.  Tice while never in the spotlight as a player was nonetheless a starter in this league for 109 of 177 games he dressed in, with the Seattle Seahawks,Washington Redskins and Minnesota Vikings respectively.  After officially retiring in 1995 Tice was named Vikings offensive line coach in 1996.  Tice made an immediate impact with the Vikings coaching five different players to 10 Pro Bowl appearances in his time.  In 2001 he was named Head Coach in Minnesota succeeding Dennis Green.  In his first season as head coach the Vikings led the NFL in rushing for the first time in team history amassing 2,507 yards in 2002.  In 2004 Coach Tice helped lead the Vikings to their first ever road playoff victory in the freezing Tundra of Lambeau Field.  Since being let go in 2005 Tice has been an assistant/tight ends coach with the Jaguars.  In his three seasons thus far the Jags have rushed for their two highest totals in team history rushing for a franchise record 2,541 yards in 06, and amassing 2,391 rushing yards in 07.