Although no clear front-runner has emerged yet in the Jacksonville Jaguars’ exhaustive search for a new head coach since firing Urban Meyer, a shorter list is now beginning to take shape. Among that list include the much-discussed options of Byron Leftwich, Todd Bowles, and Matt Eberflus. Let’s take a look at the latest we are hearing around the Jaguars’ current search for their next head coach.
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The Jacksonville Jaguars’ head coach search
Jaguars owner Shad Khan, his son, Tony Khan, the AFC South franchise’s executive vice president of football administration, and general manager Trent Baalke are narrowing down their list of candidates for an anticipated second round of interviews.
The Jaguars are expected to start inviting a number of candidates for second interviews. These interviews are expected to be conducted in person. Names included on this list are: Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich, Jacksonville interim coach Darrell Bevell, Indianapolis Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus, Buccaneers defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, and former Detroit Lions and Indianapolis Colts coach Jim Caldwell, according to league sources not authorized to speak publicly.
Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett is expected to be a finalist for the Denver Broncos’ job, per sources. Still, he made a good impression on the Jaguars’ search committee. The Jaguars also interviewed former Philadelphia Eagles coach Doug Pederson.
Trent Baalke reportedly remains on shaky ground with the Jaguars
Baalke advocated for former Texans coach and general manager Bill O’Brien, currently the Alabama offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. However, O’Brien won’t receive a second interview.
Eberflus is another candidate that Baalke has reportedly pushed for. The Jaguars met with Eberflus in Indianapolis after an extremely brief, initial virtual interview that included technical difficulties with the Zoom setup, per sources.
Regardless of which coach the Khan family ultimately signs off on, Baalke’s job security and power heading into the offseason are being widely characterized as “extremely shaky” in league circles. Several sources predict the new head coach will lead the way on key offseason decisions, with the former San Francisco 49ers general manager exiting the building after the draft.
Baalke had done a good job building his relationship with the Khan family and was kept on to help them pick up the pieces after the embarrassing Meyer situation.
Picking up the pieces post-Urban Meyer
That included a pair of videos going viral of the former Ohio State and Florida coach dancing suggestively with a woman who is not Mrs. Meyer in Columbus, Ohio, as well as berating the coaching staff, telling them, per sources, “I had a better f–g staff at Bowling Green.” Additionally, the former Jags HC would leave practice early, sometimes as early as 7 PM, leaving the coaching staff at the Jaguars’ training facility to finish up game plans.
Meyer told one coach he never should have hired him and the coach was a failure and should quit the profession. He also repeatedly berated receivers coach Sanjay Lal, according to sources.
His verbal abusiveness toward staff wore them out, per sources, and created a toxic work environment. Finally, Khan moved on after multiple controversies that included an awkward benching of running back James Robinson.
Jaguars are hoping their new head coach sets a different tone around the franchise
The hope in Jacksonville is that the new hire will be a strong, accountable leader who won’t ask the staff to do anything that he wouldn’t dig into himself. The Jaguars, by all accounts, have talked to some well-respected coaches.
It’s up to the Khan family now to make sound decisions to find a long-term answer for a franchise that has an opportunity to build around talented young quarterback Trevor Lawrence, a former top overall pick.
Since taking over the franchise, Khan has had four coaches, three general managers, and one executive vice president of football operations in his decade of ownership.
Mike Mularkey lasted one season. Gus Bradley was in place for four seasons — the same tenure as Doug Marrone, who reached an AFC Championship Game. And then came the disastrous Meyer era.