On Friday February 11 Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network indicated that the Minnesota Vikings were “expected to hire” former Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Deshea Townsend to be the team’s new secondary coach. But on Super Bowl Sunday, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported that the former Chicago Bears secondary coach has had a “change of heart,” and is now expected to go to Jacksonville to join the staff of new Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson.
Assuming that he does in fact sign a contract with the Jaguars, Townsend, 46, will be coaching alongside former Steelers defensive tackle Brentson Buckner, who is expected to be named Jacksonville’s new defensive line coach.
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The Jaguars Had the 17th-Ranked Pass Defense in 2021
Deshea Townsend will be working with a position group that was middle of the pack last season in terms of pass defense ranking, having allowed 228 passing yards per game, per NFL.com.
And while the Jaguars allowed a relatively modest 24 passing touchdowns last year, they recorded just seven interceptions, tied for the second-fewest in the league. The Jags were also tied for worst in the NFL (with the Philadelphia Eagles) in terms of completion percentage allowed at 69.4%.
So there’s plenty of work to do in Jacksonville, though former Steelers backfield mate Bryant McFadden believes that Townsend is more than up for the task. On Friday February 11, McFadden told TwinCities.com that “Townsend is extremely savvy and relatable to guys. He’s a players’ coach but he understands what it takes to be successful. I think it’s only a matter of time before he’s a defensive coordinator in this league.”
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Tyson Alualu Spurned the Jaguars in March 2021
At least the Jaguars come out on the plus side of the transaction in this instance. Last offseason it was Jacksonville getting spurned, when Steelers defensive tackle Tyson Alualu—a former Jaguars first-round pick and an unrestricted free agent—agreed to go back “to where it all started” before reversing his decision to rejoin the Jags.
Steelers defenders were jubilant about his return to Pittsburgh. But Alualu—who will turn 35 in March—had a tough season from an injury perspective. He dealt with an elbow issue prior to the season opener at Buffalo. Then he suffered a broken ankle early in the team’s Week 2 game against the Raiders, an injury that required surgery, ending his 2021 season after just 61 total snaps.
His loss was a huge blow to Pittsburgh’s run defense. In May 2021, Pro Football Focus ranked him among the Top 32 defensive linemen in the league, alongside fellow Steelers Cam Heyward and Stephon Tuitt. Heyward was one of two Steelers who were named All-Pro in 2021, but Tuitt missed all of last season.
In July 2021 Tuitt’s brother was killed in a tragic hit-and-run accident in the Atlanta suburb of Johns Creek. It’s unclear if Tuitt is going to return in 2022. He is entering the final season of a contract that is scheduled to pay him $9,048,560, as per overthecap.com.
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