Ever since Gus Bradley took over as head coach in Jacksonville, the Jaguars have been labeled as “Seahawks East.”
The label makes a ton of sense based on the fact the Jaguars are quick to scoop up defensive players the Seahawks dump. Yet, Bradley wants you to know they are merely talented players who happen to come from Seattle’s organization, via Michael DiRocco of ESPN.com:
I think that could be a perception of it and I want to be careful of that. But if they're good players ... If there's an opportunity for someone that if I have coached, or been a part of coaching, and they've given so much to me and helped our staff as a coaching staff, that in turn if I can have the opportunity to help them, I'm going to look into it. Whether that's a good thing or a bad thing, that's just how I am.
Bradley’s right: Yes, he may be aware of the perception, but that doesn’t mean it’s detrimental to the team. For a case in point, look at the Will Blackmon signing.
Blackmon showcased his talent in training camp last season, but the Seahawks didn’t have room for him on their 53-man roster. So, Bradley saw an opportunity to improve the Jaguars' weak secondary and acted on it.
The move paid dividends. In 15 games, Blackmon recorded 40 combined tackles, 11 passes defended, two forced fumbles and one interception. Moreover, he finished with the second-highest PFF grade on Jacksonville’s defense.
Bradley’s hoping former Seahawks defensive ends Red Bryant and Chris Clemons have the same effect on the defensive line that Blackmon had on the secondary.
The good news is the odds are in Bradley’s favor. Bryant is coming off a career year against the run, and Clemons is inching closer to 100 percent after he completely dominated the opposition in the playoffs.
By the time the Super Bowl had ended, Clemons had racked up one quarterback sack, one quarterback hit, eight quarterback hurries and two forced fumbles in three postseason games.
Bryant and Clemons may be former Seahawks players, but that’s irrelevant now that they are in Jacksonville. Bradley is building his defense the way he wants it and is open to adding any player who fits his defensive scheme.
Because in addition to Bryant and Clemons, the Jaguars had a couple under-the-radar signings in Ziggy Hood and Dekoda Watson. From a schematic standpoint, all four players fit like a glove, and all four players offer a unique skill set at their respective positions.
Jacksonville won’t lead the league in sacks, but its defensive line is one of the most improved units in the NFL thanks in large part to Bradley's vision for the Jaguars defense.