Early this morning, the Jacksonville Jaguars announced that Nathaniel Hackett was relieved of his duties as offensive coordinator. Later in his press conference, head coach Doug Marrone stated that this was not a “knee jerk” reaction and something he has been thinking about for a while.
In addition to expelling Hackett, Marrone also announced that he went to the executive office and spoke with Shad Khan and Tom Coughlin about wanting to bench Blake Bortles and start Cody Kessler for the upcoming home game against the Indianapolis Colts. Interestingly, that there is one key name missing from this statement, and even without reading between the lines from Marrone’s comments, it’s very likely that Dave Caldwell will also be dismissed on December 31st after their final game against the Houston Texans. While Caldwell would be leaving the roster better off than when he found it, that’s what happens when you miss on a majority of your first round picks and double down on a miserable contract extension on a below average quarterback.
And changes may not stop there.
While Marrone said he hasn’t thought about moving on from Todd Wash, that’s not surprising. Firing both coordinators on the same day would be a nuclear bomb for an organization, and that kind of radiation would seep into the quality of future replacements at the coordinator positions.
With that being said, don’t be surprised if Wash also gets the hook by the end of the year along with Caldwell, especially if the communications issues don’t get rectified from here on out.
In my opinion, the biggest decision for Tom Coughlin over the next four-plus weeks will be whether or not to keep Marrone and choose to move forward with a totally blank canvas moving forward. Although my early money is on Marrone being the coach for 2019, a case can certainly be made for a full purge for several reasons. The Jaguars have come across as one of the most undisciplined teams on and off the field this season, and discipline at the minimum is a direct reflection of the man in charge. Another thing that Coughlin will have to consider is what the external perception of keeping Marrone would look like to potential coordinator and position coach candidates that would be interested in taking the job.
Would a promising young offensive mind like Kliff Kingsbury, Zac Taylor, Mika Kafka, or Shane Waldron want to hitch their wagon to what many would perceive to be a sinking ship? I wouldn’t.
Yes, a full overhaul could be beneficial for a culture change. A guy like Baylor’s Matt Rhule (who has already had NFL head coach interviews with the Indianapolis Colts last year) would be someone who would make a ton of sense for the this franchise. A former Penn State linebacker, Rhule is known for promoting a culture of discipline, instilling toughness, and has a reputation for developing players, routinely cultivating zero and one star recruits at Temple and turning them into NFL draft picks.
At Baylor, Rhule took a program that was marred by scandal and rebuilt it from the ashes of ruin to bowl-eligibility in a competitive Big 12 conference and top-25 national recruiting class. Rhule was Coughlin’s assistant offensive line coach with the New York Giants in 2012 before moving on to Temple and has publicly credited Tom Coughlin as the most influential person in his coaching career multiple times.
We’ll get more into candidates if and when the time comes, but for the sake of painting a picture of what a clean slate would look like, I wanted to use Rhule as an example.
But the more likely course of action moving forward is going into 2019 with Marrone and hiring some tired, retread coordinators like Bobby Petrino/Ben McAdoo on offense and Steve Spagnuolo/Mike Pettine on defense. Pettine, McAdoo, and Spagnuolo are currently unemployed and Mike Pettine will likely be out of Green Bay with Mike McCarthy in the offseason. In fact, I’ve been keeping a list of potential head coach, offensive coordinator, defensive coordinator, and even general manager candidates that I’ve shared in the image below.
As far as the general managers are concerned, will the external perception of Tom Coughlin breathing down a potential candidate’s neck hurt the quality of talented evaluators that would be interested in the position?
It’s a realistic possibility.
Perhaps a guy like Cleveland Browns Assistant General Manager Eliot Wolf would be someone who would be interested. Only 36 years old, Wolf is the son of former Hall of Fame general manager Ron Wolf and has been working in NFL front offices since he was 22 years old. Wolf interviewed for the Packers general manager position after Ted Thompson was ousted, and when that job went to Brian Gutekunst, Wolf chose to move over with John Dorsey and the Browns before the 2018 season to add to his resume.
Wolf was instrumental in assembling one of the best draft classes in recent memory (and frankly, a grand slam by Cleveland standards), as the Browns rookie class boasts a franchise quarterback and culture changer Baker Mayfield, likely Pro Bowl cornerback Denzel Ward, stud rookie running back Nick Chubb, and solid contributors in Antonio Callaway and Genard Avery.
In his entire personnel and evaluation career, Wolf has been around Brett Favre, Aaron Rodgers, and now, Baker Mayfield. For a franchise that has been thirsting for a franchise quarterback of that ilk, Wolf is awfully appealing, and his youthful perspective could be a necessary check-and-balance for an older Tom Coughlin. Again, I’ll get into more avenues when the time is right, but just wanted to paint a picture of what things could look like.
So with all the instability surrounding the Jaguars right now, what would you like to see happen? Clean sweep? Marrone with new coordinators? Let us know in the comments below.
Heck, feel free to build your ultimate GM/HC/OC/DC combo using the names using the list above.
The time for speculation is now!