The Jacksonville Jaguars finally had some names surface in a real connection to their vacant offensive coordinator position on Tuesday. The three names that were reported were former Chicago Bears head coach Marc Trestman, San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman and Minnesota Vikings running backs coach Kirby Wilson.
I've been asked quite a bit on Twitter who my preference would be, so I figured I would just jot down my thoughts on each of the candidates and why I like or dislike them.
So for me, here is how I would rank the known candidates.
1. Kirby Wilson
First and foremost, the Rooney Rule does not apply to coordinator positions, so keep the token candidate stuff to yourself. This probably looks weird to a lot of people, but doing some digging before I made this post about potential candidates, Wilson was someone I passed over because he had only been a running backs coach in his career as an NFL coach. He checks some of the same boxes that made me like Randy Fichtner on that list, however. He's worked under guys like Bruce Arians and Todd Haley, who have a more up tempo and vertical offense that effectively runs the ball with a zone blocking scheme. He also seems to have the kind of personality that would mesh well with Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley. He's noted as being an energetic guy who motivates his players and worries about at the end of the day if they executed what they were supposed to do, because if they do that, they'll win. Sound familiar?
While there is no direct connection for Wilson and Bradley, Wilson did work for current Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll from 1997-1999, which also had Jaguars defensive backs coach DeWayne Walker on the staff. Bradley has a few people he can get information on Wilson, outside of interviewing.
While Wilson has never called plays in the NFL, he has been considered for coordinator jobs in the past. Last year he was a finalist for the Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator position and there was some talk that he was considered for the Pittsburgh Steelers OC position when Bruce Arians left, as the Steelers like the hire from within.
2. Marc Trestman
Trestman seems to be Twitter's main choice for the Jaguars offensive coordinator and it's pretty easy to see why. Trestman has a rep for being a "quarterback whisperer", as he's taken some mediocre veterans and turned them into productive quarterbacks. Look at Rich Gannon's resurgence for the Oakland Raiders and the work he did in the CFL, as well as making Josh McCown look like a serviceable starter with the Chicago Bears. Trestman's first season with the Bears was a big success offensively, but it seemed to fall apart the second year and then was exacerbated with a rift between Trestman, offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer and quarterback Jay Cutler.
The Bears offense regressed Trestman's second season, but it was hardly bad. Cutler posted arguably his best season statistically, even missing games, and running back Matt Forte had 1,800 combined yards. Part of the reason for Chicago's regression has been attributed to Aaron Kromer getting game planning/adjustment duties rather than Trestman handling them.
Trestman is interesting to me because of his past work with quarterbacks. Even if Blake Bortles doesn't develop, it seems likely that Trestman can at least make him look serviceable. Trestman's offense is also more vertical than what the Jaguars have had in the past, and is what the Jaguars are looking for.
99. Greg Roman
I won't lie, I'm not a huge fan of Roman as an offensive coordinator for the Jaguars. It's more fit, than anything really. The Jaguars personnel leans more towards vertical and zone blocking concepts offensively, because that's what they've drafted for. Roman on the other hand comes from a power offensive line that's less about having athletic lineman who can move and more on just beating your man. He's been in that style of offense going back to when he was the tight ends/offensive line coach at Stanford under Harbaugh.
While Bortles and Colin Kaepernick have similar skill sets as quarterbacks, the 49ers passing game was never really all that great and was more an efficient compliment to their power running game than something they could lean on. Under Roman the 49ers passing offense has never ranked higher than 23rd and has been 29th twice and 30th overall. Overall they have only ranked higher than 20th overall once, when they had the 11th ranked total offense in 2012. The one feather in his cap however is that the 49ers have averaged less than 23 points per game once, last season, when they averaged just 19 points a game.
Roman is also up for some head coaching positions this year so he still seems an unlikely candidate, for me. I'd also hold the concern that if he became the Jaguars offensive coordinator it could be a one-and-done type thing if he's successful and be sought after as a head coach next season, leaving the Jaguars looking for their third offensive coordinator in three years. While that's all in all probably a positive, because it meant there was big progress, it's still not something I'd really want.