Surrounding all of the London news today regarding the Jaguars initiative to play two home games overseas for the 2020 season, Jaguars owner Shad Khan made it clear on Tuesday that his ultimate goal is to create a winning franchise — the top priority, Khan said when speaking to the local Jacksonville media Tuesday morning.
“Today’s news is about London and what it means for Jacksonville, but make no mistake – winning is the top priority,” said Khan.
“Everything we’re striving to do for the franchise and the city is about winning and about building a franchise that expects to win constantly. I think most of you know, I just came back from the Super Bowl and obviously witnessed firsthand the energy of the fans and obviously the joy of Kansas City fans afterwards and I want that more than anything for the Jaguars fans. We’re not going to rest until we get there, but that doesn’t erase what we need to do here away from the game and to create and generate the revenues and be everything we can be here in Jacksonville.”
After a majorly disappointing season finishing 6-10, the Jaguars, and Khan, opted to remain with the status-quo at head coach and general manager by way of retaining both Doug Marrone and Dave Caldwell, respectively. While there have been a couple of major changes — EVP Tom Coughlin and offensive coordinator John DeFilippo are no longer with the team —, many questions will remain regarding the team’s on-field performance for 2020 and beyond.
With a London stay becoming the norm for the Jaguars moving forward — at least for two weeks of the regular season —, the question of a competitive disadvantage in those games was asked. The Jaguars will be traveling for 10 out of their 16 regular season games next season. In their London series since 2013, the Jaguars have gone 3-4 including losing their last two matchups by a combined score of 21-50.
Khan, however does not feel the team will be disadvantage by it at all.
“I don’t think it’s a competitive disadvantage. I think you can — next time you see [Jaguars Head Coach] Doug Marrone or [Jaguars General Manager] Dave Caldwell, you can ask them,” said Khan. “I think, if you look back here, yes, we’ve struggled and in seasons we won three games or around there, one of those wins was in London. So, I think it doesn’t put us at a competitive disadvantage.”
For the first time in a non-press release format, the Jaguars owner spoke on the reasoning for retaining Marrone and Caldwell along with the dismissal of Coughlin. The message of continuity with the idea stemming from the team’s success in 2017 was at the forefront.
“We were a .500 team within reach of first place of the division right at the midway point,” Khan explained. “One game, two games in a row and we had the Minshew mania going, and then, boom. We lost five straight and then lost two of the last three. A 6-10 team last year that did a good job dealing with a number of the off-field issues, but the bottom line is that we really underperformed. That completed the thought plan of what we needed to do going forward.”
During the bye week in 2019, the Jaguars transitioned to veteran quarterback Nick Foles after rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew II struggled in the team’s week nine matchup against the Houston Texans in London. This decision was made by Marrone, however Coughlin was ultimately thought of as leading the charge to switch back to Foles.
Completely starting over was not on the agenda for Khan, especially after being only one game away from the Super Bowl in 2017.
“I know things change greatly year to year, but we’ve been closer more recently than many teams in the league. My feeling is that we can return to that place and go much faster to where we want to be if we can keep some things intact for 2020,” said Khan when asked about retaining Marrone and Caldwell. “We have a really good core of young players from our recent drafts. We have excellent draft capital.”
The Jaguars currently have nine selections in the 2020 NFL draft including two first-round picks. It will be the third time in franchise history the team will have multiple first round picks.
“The message as the whole football organization as I met with them after our season was over, is the time to win is now. We have everything really in place with some of the changes to expect a good season. The results are going to speak for themselves a year from now, and we will all know if this is the right approach I took and I will take full responsibility for it.”