Jaguars and think they have to find an offensive-minded head coach this time, given the state of rookie quarterback's Blaine Gabbert's game, and the anemia that has inflicted that side of the ball in recent years. Still, one club executive in the NFL told me he believes interim head coach Mel Tucker, the team's former defensive coordinator, might have a shot to hang on given the franchise being in transition to new ownership under Shahid Khan. I'm not sure. In a market where it's always difficult to keep the tickets selling, Tucker's hiring won't move the needle much, if any.
Sports Illustrated's Don Banks previews Black Monday and offers his views on Jacksonville's and Indiana's next head coaches.
I'm told by sources that Khan is quite aware of how much he doesn't know regarding the way the NFL works, and is going to lean almost entirely on general manager Gene Smith and former Jags owner Wayne Weaver for guidance and counsel. That means it's Smith's call to make, and he's known for his off-the-radar approach to making decisions (see the NFL draft).
Smith will do his due diligence, trying to find the next John Harbaugh, Mike Smith or Chuck Noll type -- meaning the little-known assistant who was an excellent head coach selection in waiting. One candidate he would be wise to keep in mind is Packers quarterback coach Tom Clements, a longtime NFL assistant who has done strong work on Mike McCarthy's staff in Green Bay since 2006. If Clements gets a job with a team in need of a quarterback, look for Packers backup Matt Flynn, a potential free agent in 2012, to perhaps follow him and serve as a potential starting option.
Another name I believe will surface in Jacksonville's search is that of ex-Raiders head coach Tom Cable, who did superb work this year in resurrecting the Seattle running game as the Seahawks first-year assistant head coach/offensive line coach. Cable's 8-8 in Oakland last year looks better all the time (he at least didn't mortgage the franchise's future in the draft) and his running game credentials would fit very nicely with a Jacksonville offense that is rightly built around its one true star, running back Maurice Jones-Drew.
Cable knows MJD and Jaguars tight end Marcedes Lewis from their days together at UCLA, where he was on staff at the time, and getting Lewis' game back to its pre-contract extension 2010 levels is one of the primary concerns in 2012. In addition, Cable may be able to bring Dolphins quarterbacks coach Karl Dorrell with him to Jacksonville to work on Gabbert's game. Dorrell did exemplary work with Matt Moore in Miami this season, helping the ex-Panthers starter revive his career. Dorrell was head coach at UCLA, and Cable served under him there. Both Jones-Drew and Lewis would likely applaud those moves.
• Indianapolis -- Two-game winning streak or not, I'm almost certain Jim Caldwell will be coaching his final game with the Colts Sunday at Jacksonville. The firing won't be what Colts president Bill Polian would have preferred, but by bottom-line analysis, even a 3-13 record would render the decision defensible when you consider teams like the Dolphins, Chiefs, Jaguars, Bucs and Chargers will all win more games than that and still wind up making coaching moves. It just feels like the right time for a bit of a clean break in Indy, and Caldwell will be part of the collateral damage. And just to clarify, the Polians, both Bill and his son, Chris, the team's general manager, aren't going anywhere.
Given the quarterback situation the Colts face next season, maybe Andrew Luck, maybe Peyton Manning, maybe both, I would be shocked senseless if Indy didn't opt for an offensive-minded head coach. The Colts also won't go for an outside-the-box candidate like Rob Ryan, because image is very important within the franchise and the Indianapolis market, and the Polians would sooner divulge detailed injury reports than turn into daredevils on the hiring front.
I could see a proven and solid commodity like Mike Sherman making a lot of sense in Indy. Maybe a Jay Gruden, a Mike Mularkey, or even a Brian Schottenheimer. But whoever it is, he'll have a passing game pedigree and hopefully be able to pick up the pieces of a disastrous 2011 in Colts-dom.
Read more: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2011/writers/don_banks/12/29/black.monday.primer/index.html#ixzz1hysqc000