Late last week a report emerged that former Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Deshea Townsend was going to be hired as the new secondary coach of the Minnesota Vikings. But on Super Bowl Sunday, Ian Rapoport of NFL indicated that Townsend had a “change of heart” and would be accepting a job with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Building on that news, Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network reports that the ex-Chicago Bears secondary coach has finalized a deal with Jacksonville and will become the team’s defensive passing game coordinator-secondary coach.
According to Chris Tomasson, who covers the Vikings and the NFL for the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Townsend’s former Steelers teammate and good friend Bryant McFadden has indicated to him that the change of heart came about because the Jaguars offered Townsend “a bigger role within the defense.”
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Steelers Had a Defense Called ‘Tight Drop Deshea’
That seems an important consideration for the 46-year-old Townsend, with McFadden telling Tomasson that he believes it’s only a “matter of time” before Townsend gets a job as an NFL defensive coordinator.
“When he was at Pittsburgh, legendary hall of fame coach Dick LeBeau respected his football mind so much that we had a defensive call that was called ‘Tight Drop Deshea,”’ McFadden added.
In Jacksonville, Townsend will be charged with trying to improve a secondary that was middle of the pack last season in terms of pass defense, having allowed 228 passing yards per game, per NFL.com. Of greater concern is that the Jaguars intercepted just seven passes last season while allowing opponents to complete 69.4% of their passes, tied for worst in the league with the Philadelphia Eagles.
But according to McFadden, Townsend has already demonstrated a knack for making adjustments, pointing to a 17-9 loss to Minnesota on December 20, 2021, in which the Bears were without all four of their starting defensive backs yet held Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins to 87 yards passing, his career low as a starter.
Townsend Was a Fourth-Round Pick of the Steelers
Deshea Townsend came into the NFL as a fourth-round draft pick of the Steelers in 1998, selected No. 117 overall out of Alabama. He played 12 seasons in Pittsburgh before finishing his career with Indianapolis in 2010.
According to Pro Football Reference, Townsend played in 191 career games and was responsible for 470 tackles and 21 interceptions, three of which he returned for touchdowns. He was also credited with 15.5 sacks, 112 passes defensed, five forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries.
Townsend’s coaching career got underway in 2011 when he was hired as Arizona’s assistant defensive backs coach. During the two seasons he worked in Arizona, Townsend worked under Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton, who was his position coach while he played cornerback with the Steelers.
Townsend will be coaching on the same defensive staff as former Steelers defensive tackle Brentson Buckner, who is expected to be named Jacksonville’s new defensive line coach.
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