Monday, March 10, 2014
Bryant to help Jags follow Seahawks' path
By Michael DiRocco
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Red Bryant is never going to forget what it felt like to win the Super Bowl earlier this year.
He also isn't going to forget the 2008 and 2009 seasons, either.
What he experienced then -- going 4-12 in '08 and 5-11 in '09 -- was just as much a part of Seattle's championship run as anything they did last season, he said.
Red Bryant, who signed a four-year deal with the Jaguars, believes his new team has a similar level of commitment that his former team had.
"A lot of people talk about the great season we had this past season, being able to win the Super Bowl, but a lot of people forget the journey that led up to the Super Bowl," Bryant said Monday, two days after he signed a four-year contract worth $17 million with the Jaguars. "It was a lot of shortcomings, hard falls, and we persevered and I was there during that whole process."
One of the main reasons Bryant signed with Jacksonville is he believes the Jaguars are on a similar path under general manager David Caldwell and head coach Gus Bradley, who was the Seahawks' defensive coordinator from 2009-12. He sees the Jaguars at the same point the Seahawks were in his first two seasons and believes he can help as the franchise attempts to maneuver its way through the same building process.
"They've got a vision from the owner to the general manager to the head coach to everybody in the program," Bryant said. "They know what their vision it. They're going to be committed to it and they're not going to [deviate from it]. When you have that type of commitment to winning, commitment to excellence, only good things can happen.
"...I know what it takes. I know what type of commitment you have to have from the front office on down and that's the same commitment that I see the Jacksonville Jags have."
That's a pretty big leap of faith considering Caldwell and Bradley are only in their second year in Jacksonville and inherited a roster that was one of the worst in the NFL. The Jaguars lost their first eight games of 2013 by double digits and finished the season ranked 22nd or worse in the six major statistical categories (yards per game, rushing yards per game, and passing yards per game). They were 29th against the rush and 31st in total offense and rushing.
But there is optimism because early returns are solid on the duo's first draft class and they were able to add several free agents who turned into key players, such as defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks, cornerback Alan Ball, and linebacker Geno Hayes. Marks signed a four-year extension in December and is one of the players around which the defense will be built.
Bryant is another one of those players. He's a five-technique defensive end, meaning he lines up over the offensive tackle and is responsible for the gaps on either side. The 6-foot-4, 323-pound Bryant began his career as a tackle before moving to end in 2010 and he said he's willing to play inside and outside with the Jaguars.
"I'm pretty sure Gus will have a plan and the defensive coordinator will have a plan on how to use me," Bryant said. "I definitely feel like I can play inside if given the opportunity and I hope moving forward that's in the plan to utilize me inside as well."
Bryant, whom Seattle cut on Feb. 28, had planned on visiting Green Bay and Kansas City and said the Washington Redskins also expressed interest, but when he got to Jacksonville and spent time with Bradley, Caldwell and defensive line coach Todd Wash he felt the Jaguars were the perfect situation.
"I just think it's a great fit for me all the way around," he said. "I know where the vision starts from the top down and I believe Jacksonville is definitely moving in the right direction and I'm excited about being able to help their franchise turn it around."