After firing defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell and the rest of the defensive staff, head coach Doug Pederson and the Jaguars have started the process of finding replacements. That became clear with a series of reports today that several defensive assistants from around the league would be interviewing for the open position.
In a continuation of what looks like a future decimation of the Ravens‘ coaching staff this offseason, secondary coach and defensive pass game coordinator Chris Hewitt will interview for the job, per Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic. Baltimore’s coordinators have both been garnering interest for multiple head coaching openings, and earlier today, we saw the team’s defensive backs coach Dennard Wilson interview with the Giants for their open defensive coordinator job. Even Ravens defensive line coach/associate head coach Anthony Weaver has received head coaching interest.
Hewitt has been a staple in Baltimore, coaching with the Ravens since the team’s last Super Bowl season in 2012. The Jamaica-native started off coaching as an assistant strength and conditioning coach at the college level for the Fighting Irish before spending eight seasons at Rutgers coaching running backs and cornerbacks. In 2012, Hewitt joined John Harbaugh‘s staff as a defensive backs coach. After another eight years, Hewitt was promoted to pass defense coordinator and has spent the past two seasons in his current role.
Jacksonville isn’t afraid to poach from a division-rival, scheduling an interview with Titans defensive coordinator Shane Bowen, per ESPN’s Turron Davenport. While Bowen technically is still employed in Nashville, the firing of Mike Vrabel leaves Bowen in a precarious position, as whoever eventually replaces Vrabel may not choose to retain him in Tennessee. After five years as an assistant with the Texans and Titans, Bowen got his first coordinator job in 2021. In his first season, Bowen impressed, with Tennessee finished as the sixth-best scoring defense and finishing 12th in yards allowed. The next two seasons saw mostly middling defenses in Tennessee.
Also off the Titans’ coaching staff, the Jaguars will interview Tennessee’s defensive pass game coordinator and cornerbacks coach Chris Harris, according to Ben Arthur of NFL on FOX. Since entering the NFL in 2013 as a Bears defensive quality control coach, Harris went from assistant defensive backs coach for the Chargers to defensive backs coach for Washington before landing in his current role with the Titans this year. Harris also got some interest in last year’s coordinator search for the Texans.
Finally, the last candidate to receive a request to interview for the Jaguars open position was Jets safeties coach Marquand Manuel. Manuel started coaching in Seattle in 2012, a few years after concluding his playing career, as an assistant special teams coach. He would climb the ladder for the Seahawks becoming a defensive assistant and an assistant secondary coach over the next two years. He took his first position coaching gig as the secondary coach for the Falcons in 2015 and was promoted to defensive coordinator two years later. When his contract in Atlanta expired, Manuel was hired as the defensive backs coach in Philadelphia for a year before taking the safeties coach position in New York. Like Harris, Manuel was a candidate for the Texans defensive coordinator job last offseason. He also interviewed for the same job with the Panthers last year, as well.
The Jaguars are certainly exploring plenty of options for who will coach the defensive side of the ball in Jacksonville next year. The team reportedly also requested an interview with Falcons defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen but were blocked access, per Jaguars beat reporter John Shipley. The Panthers also blocked an Ejiro Evero interview. There seems to be a concentrated focus on coaches with defensive back experience, which makes sense after the team gave up the seventh-most passing yards in the NFL this year.