With great change comes great responsibility, and Jaguars owner Shad Khan certainly isn’t missing out an opportunity to make the most of the changes being made down at TIAA Bank Field as of late.
Earlier today, the Jaguars and Khan announced the team will be moving on from four-year head coach Doug Marrone following a disappointing 2020 season, ending with the worst final record in team history at 1-15.
In speaking with the media, Khan made it clear that shortly following the team’s ousting of vice president of football operations Tom Coughlin in 2019, that the owner was making a change in philosophy in terms of his direct responsibilities with the team.
No longer a hands-off owner, Khan has been behind the scenes over the past season making certain no deals miss his desk prior to ultimately being approved. No, it does not mean Khan will be making every decision but, he will however, be in the loop more often than he has been in years past.
“The roster control is [because] you don’t want players going in and out or contracts given until you’re aware of that,” Khan said when asked about the direction of his management and roster control.
“So striking the balance between delegation and abdication, I think, is an important point. Certainly, I found that in the last 15 months, having that necessitates a conversation, you’re part of the conversation with the GM and the head coach. So being part of that here for the immediate future I think is important to me.”
Khan made it clear that whomever the team hires as its future head coach and general manager will report directly to him, both positions able to express their concerns with the ownership, rather than a one-man-leads-all approach such as the one that was led when Coughlin was the team’s EVP of football operations.
Having that sort of control will allow Khan to remain in the loop regarding new player contracts. For example, in 2017 the Jaguars allowed Bears wide receiver Allen Robinson to walk in free agency. Recently, the Jaguars were forced to trade defensive end Yannick Ngakoue after contract negotiations with him fell through prior to 2019 and heading into the 2020 season.
Khan had not been as involved in either of those decisions, but will be in all decisions the team makes moving forward.
The search for the team’s new coach and GM will begin now. While the Jaguars have been able to interview some candidates that were already made available, such as former New York Giants GM Jerry Reese and ESPN analyst Louis Riddick, the team may now request interviews for those that are currently employed by other teams.
Khan also would address the rumor surrounding former college head coach Urban Meyer, and the prospects of adding him to the team. While Khan did say he has known Meyer over the years due to their Big Ten connection - Khan is an alumnus of the University if Illinois, and Meyer coached with Ohio State for seven years -, he mentioned he has not yet had any conversations with the future collegiate football HOF coach.
“We have not spoken to anyone about this job or even, obviously, interviewed him,” said Khan. “I mean, this is something—just made the decision this morning. So, you know there is—and I’ll leave it at that.”
While there have been rumors surrounding the timing of the potential hires, Khan also clarified today that the team will “ideally” make the two hires at the same time, noting the need for transparency and alignment of the two positions.
“The key thing, how we would be structuring this is that I’m going to have the general manager and the head coach report directly to me,” Khan added.
“And that way, really, you have the transparency and the needs and concerns of both parties without really getting filtered or have a chain of command. And that’s really what necessitates that you basically hire them about the same time and really you have a perfect alignment, which you need in a winning organization.”
When it comes to the team’s assistant coaches, Khan made it clear he would like to retain “some of them,” which is why no one other than Marrone has been officially let go as of yet. Khan did indicate, however, that ultimately it would be up to whoever the new head coach is to retain or let go of any assistant coaches as they see fit.
“We have some good coaches here,” Khan said. “I want the head coach, whoever that might be, to be able to look at that and retain some of them, but that would be obviously the head coach’s decision.”
The search for the team’s new leaders begins immediately, and the dawn of a new era in Jacksonville does, too.