It’s now been a week since the Jacksonville Jaguars decided to hire interim head coach Doug Marrone in the same position full time, as well as the appointment of former New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin as the executive vice president of football. The emotional reaction of everything has now worn off and we can take a more reasoned look at what the Jaguars have decided to do going forward. There is a clear hierarchy of power now and it looks like accountability and winning is going to be a focus on the team finally, which feels like a really odd thing to say.
1. Tom Coughlin is here to fix Gus Bradley’s mess
It was clear from the introductory press conference on Thursday that Tom Coughlin is still Tom Coughlin and the old mentality of the Jaguars under former head coach Gus Bradley is not going to fly. You heard it from some of the players that winning wasn’t enough of a focal point for the team in their message and a lot of that was Bradley’s philosophy. Bradley preached getting better and winning will come, which in theory is fine, but he erred in his application of the philosophy.
“There’s no magic to it,” Coughlin told Peter King of SI’s MMQB. “We gotta change the culture. That’s our job. Mediocrity has set in, and that’s got to change. The only way it changes is with hard work.”
The emphasis is my part, but that’s something that I and others brought up early in the season with the Jaguars under Bradley, is that it felt like losing had become acceptable and that’s a dangerous mentality to have with a young football team. You never want to have the mentality of good losses or that losing is OK, and I can guarantee you that Coughlin won’t let that happen, regardless of who the coach is.
2. However you want to say it, David Caldwell got a demotion
When Coughlin was hired as the EVP of football operations there were many questions about what his exactly role would be and how much power he actually had. That was cleared up in the introductory press conference and we now know Coughlin has full control. He will have final say on the 53-man roster, final say on who the team signs in free agency and final say in who the team drafts. He even has had say in the assistant coaching hires. This has led many to wonder what exactly is general manager David Caldwell’s role and why exactly he was retained.
In my opinion, Caldwell has been shifted to more of a role like he had with the Atlanta Falcons. He’s going to still run the scouting operations and the day-to-day duties of a general manager. He’ll make sure the pro scouts are on schedule where they need to be, the college scouts are where they need to be and gather everything together. Think of him as a scouting director working towards what Coughlin is looking for. It seems to be the Jaguars and Coughlin feel that Caldwell is a good talent evaluator, he’s just not a good team builder. This is more common than people think and shifting him to this new role in my opinion will be a good fit.
3. Todd Wash is back, but the defensive scheme won’t be
The Jaguars ended up retaining defensive coordinator Todd Wash, who did do a nice job running Gus Bradley’s defense for the 2016 season, but it still had its shortcomings rushing the passer, etc. Wash being back immediately sent a lot of fans into panic about the defensive scheme, which quite a few players spoke out against after the final game, not changing. The Jaguars kept Wash, but blew out virtually the rest of the defensive coaching staff which should clearly point to a change in defensive scheme. Doug Marrone and Tom Coughlin both have historically had 4-3 defenses when they’ve been head coaches and I would expect the Jaguars to shift more towards a 4-3 front with more split safety looks.
There’s still a pocket of fans who think Wash won’t change, but rest assured… if he wasn’t going to change they wouldn’t have kept him and they wouldn’t have fired the rest of the defensive staff. Wash has a chance to put his own fingerprint on the defense by designing his own scheme, rather than running someone else’s emulation.
4. Chip Kelly and the Jaguars should take a chance on each other
News came out late last week that the Jaguars interviewed former San Francisco 49ers head coach Chip Kelly prior to hiring Marrone as the head coach, which seemed a little odd. It turns out that leaking was no coincidence as the team interviewed Kelly on Monday for their offensive coordinator position. I don’t know if it’s going to happen, but I do think Kelly and Jacksonville can mutually benefit from each other. Many seem to think Kelly has been a disaster in the NFL, but in reality outside of his first year in San Francisco, his offense ranked Top 15 in every category and over 23 points per game each of his four years in Philadelphia. Even in San Francisco, their offense ranked fourth overall in rushing and nearly 20 points per game with Blaine Gabbert and Colin Kaepernick at quarterback and a very questionable offensive line.
I think there has been a bit of an overcorrection on the perception of Kelly as an NFL play caller because he was billed as a revolutionary and he just ended up pretty good. There’s a misconception that he runs a full time up tempo offense, which he does not. Yes, he did burn his defenses out in Philadelphia but that was as a head coach with a lot of personnel power. As an offensive coordinator only, it’s very unlikely that he will be allowed to go 100 miles an hour all the time like many thought he did with the Eagles and he certainly won’t have personnel say. It’s also been reported that Kelly wants to stick in the NFL and get another shot as a head coach since he was bounced pretty quickly from an awful situation. If he can come to the Jaguars and fall in line, sort the offense out it will go a long way towards those steps of getting back to where he wants to be.
5. I don’t think they should, but RB at No. 4 is a real possibility
I’m sure everyone knows my feelings on positions you should and shouldn’t pick in the Top 10 in the NFL Draft, but if you don’t I’m of the firm belief that picking a running back in the Top 10 is very poor value of a premium asset. That being said, just looking at the situation, I think a running back at the No. 4 overall pick for the Jaguars is more a possibility than it has been in a long time when people cried out for it to happen.
Here is a scenario I can see making sense to Tom Coughlin and the Jaguars front office: The Jaguars need to pick up some wins ASAP and it’s pretty clear Blake Bortles is the likely starting quarterback Week 1. If the Jaguars can secure a top flight pass rusher in free agency, a top flight offensive guard in free agency, another mid-level guard in free agency to compete with AJ Cann it paves the way to pick someone like Dalvin Cook at the No. 4 slot. Adding a dynamic running back to a re-vamped offensive line and a play caller like Chip Kelly, who has always focused on having a strong running game, puts you in a position to win football games pretty quickly. Bortles has always been better when there is a threat of running the football and the position that makes the most impact the quickest is generally always running back.
Do I think or hope that it happens? No, not really, but I can easily see where they can line it up to make sense.