The Jacksonville Jaguars have an opportunity to essentially re-build the franchise as it's currently known during this offseason. While there have been several rebuilds of the franchise in the past, particularly during owner Shad Khan’s tenure, the rebuilds have been half measures, not a clean sweep.
Now, with the exodus of the team’s head coach and general manager, Doug Marrone and Dave Caldwell, and the expected change in quarterback, the Jaguars have an opportunity that simply cannot be missed. With the right hires and the right amount of luck, the franchises’ fortunes could be turned for the better for generations to come, without exaggeration.
It appears Khan has seen the opportunity the team has in front of it, expressing similar thoughts during his post-season press conference, shortly after announcing that Marrone was no longer the team’s head coach, setting the stage for a full rebuild.
“We won six games last year , but you know, certainly we have a lot of salary cap availability along with the draft picks and obviously the number one pick. But what’s evaded the history of the Jags, really, has been a franchise quarterback,” Khan explained.
“And I think what’s unique, certainly, is that we have the ability now to make a choice and it’s going to define the franchise moving forward.”
There will not be many to contend with Khan’s idea that the Jaguars have never had a true franchise quarterback. Even dating back to the 1990s with quarterback Mark Brunnel, there has been plenty of debates whether or not he was good enough to ascend the team to the heights other franchises have seen over the years.
While there have been good seasons from quarterbacks who suited up for the Jaguars, there has yet to be one that’s played to the level of franchise-defining that Khan is referencing. With the No. 1 pick this year, and the prospects of taking a potential generational talent in Trevor Lawrence, that could finally occur.
Before the team can select Lawrence, however, it must find the man who will be making the selection, and the man who will be coaching him up to become the quarterback many believe he can be at the next level.
In Khan’s tenure, the Jaguars have not won very many games. In fact, he has been one of the fastest owners ever to reach 100 losses.
According to ESPN, Khan officially tied with former New Orleans owner John Mecom as the second-fastest owner in NFL history to reach 100 losses, with just 141 games played. Only former Tampa Bay Buccaneers owner Hugh Culverhouse reached 100 losses faster, in 140 games. Khan has a record of 39-105 as the team’s owner.
Simply put, while a franchise quarterback has evaded the franchise, as of late, winning has certainly evaded the franchise too.
While rebuilds sometimes take time, Khan isn’t quite keen on waiting. Typically a patient owner, Khan believes the team needs to have the mindset of winning in the short, and long term.
“I think we have a great group of young players. Obviously we’re going to have a lead franchise quarterback. You can’t have a mindset [of] this is a rebuild and it’s going to take time, etc,” said Khan. “We have to have a mindset [that] we’re building for the long haul, but you have to be able to win at the same time.”
The long-term ramifications from this offseason cannot be overstated. The opportunities in front of the franchise will likely never come again, it’s that important.
The Jaguars are currently in the midst of interviewing head coaching candidates.
They’ve reportedly interviewed Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bienemy, Atlanta Falcons interim head coach Raheem Morris, former Florida Gators and Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer, San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh and were set to interview Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith following Sunday’s playoff game.
The team has also reportedly interviewed, or named as candidates, current Jaguars Interim General Manager Trent Baalke, former Cleveland Browns General Manager Ray Farmer, New Orleans Saints vice president/assistant general manager of pro personnel Terry Fontenot, former New York Giants General Manager Jerry Reese, ESPN Analyst Louis Riddick and former Houston Texans General Manager Rick Smith.
The list of candidates suited for the job is significant and full of talent. In the past, the Jaguars have not necessarily been the destination-of-choice for many players and coaches of the like, but due to the unique circumstances surrounding the team, this offseason: A No. 1 overall pick, the most cap space in the NFL, and an owner who has shown plenty of patience, the Jaguars have a chance to land almost whoever they’d like.
Certainly, time is of the essence, but Khan wants to make sure the hires are made with plenty of scrutinies, a wide search, he says.
This offseason will feature plenty of promise. Without games being played the Jaguars will be one of the only franchises in the news as consistently as the eventual Super Bowl winner.
The team has been there, done that, in the past, but now they have an opportunity to become something different, something special, and they’re right in the thick of making all of the decisions to make it possible.