Jaguars linebacker Myles Jack is used to this, perhaps too used to this. For the fourth time in his young six-year career, Jack will be faced with an offseason of uncertainty, getting set to get familiar with yet another new coach.
Since being drafted by the Jaguars in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft, Jack has been coached by three different coaches, including Gus Bradley, Doug Marrone and Urban Meyer.
All three are now onto other things with Meyer being the latest to be fired, unable to hold his gig for even a full season.
Now the franchise is in search of its next leader, someone that Jack, and the rest of the Jaguars’ roster, will have to grow to learn from.
Speaking with reporters last week and earlier this week, Jack and a host of other players shared their thoughts about what the franchise needs in its next leader. While some players opted to keep their opinions close to their vest, others were candid and honest about what direction the franchise should go in.
For Jack, the team doesn’t need a “player-friendly” coach or anything of that ilk; At this point in his career, Jack says, he doesn’t care about all of that. The team needs a leader, first and foremost, and one that is all about winning.
“We just need, number one, a leader of men, somebody that when they say something it holds weight,” he said last Thursday. “Everything’s detailed. You can tell it’s a finished product, like they’re giving something to us ...”
“Number two, it has to be somebody that it’s just about ball, it’s about winning. Whatever advantages or disadvantages that we may or may not have, we need to maximize our advantages and minimize our disadvantages, so whatever coach is about just winning. We just have to win.”
It’s understandable that Jack would want a coach that is all about winning. While, certainly, Meyer, Marrone and Bradley wanted to win, outside of an anomaly season in 2017 that saw Jacksonville take the big stage in the AFC Championship game, they simply haven’t, losing 50 games since 2018.
The Jaguars are currently conducting a wide-net search to find its next head coach. That list includes a couple of standout coaching candidates that fit the criteria Jack is looking for, namely Jim Caldwell who is thought to be one of the best leaders of men in the league, widely respected by players and coaches alike.
For other fellow LB Damien Wilson, “certainty” was on the top of his list.
“Just certainty. Someone that just makes decisions with 100 percent bought in certainty about what their doing,” Wilson said last Thursday. “Someone that can get a whole identity of a team like this is who we are and this is what we’re sticking with it. That’s pretty much the main thing for me.”
The Jaguars dealt with plenty of confusion this season. Under Meyer, the team didn’t appear to have an identity. Through losing, they lost any sort of buy-in, and confusion crept into the locker room and the coaching staff as a result. That must change in 2022.
Again, winning was a common theme amongst players, defensive tackle Malcom Brown echoed that on Friday last week when asked about what the team needs in a new head coach.
“Somebody who can come in and get the organization going in a winning direction. I know that kind sounds cliché or whatever but we just need someone to come in with a system or something and get everything going right,” he said.
“I don’t know what’s right or wrong, I’m just a player and I just come in here and play ball. Whatever they coach me up to do and want me to do on the field, I try to go out there and do my best at doing that.”
Rookie cornerback Tyson Campbell went through his fair share of lumps this year before finding a groove, becoming one of the team’s best defensive backs. He wants a winner, too.
“Just win, that’s about it,” Campbell said on Monday. “Everybody wants to win so everybody has that mindset. We’re going to be in good hands. I trust the management and everyone upstairs to find the perfect coach for this organization, so I have no worries about that.”
Fellow rookie, safety Andre Cisco, feels that the players need someone that will be able to work with the team. The players bought into each other, now they need a coach to do the same.
“Yeah, I think the biggest thing is going to be just being able to work together with the players,” Cisco said on Monday. “I feel like that’s what the players—we all worked really well together. I feel like we were all close, we had a really good locker room bond. So, a coach that can advance that and use that to his advantage, I think that’s the biggest thing.”
The Jaguars are now in offseason mode. For the players, they’ve likely already discussed with owner Shad Khan what needs to happen moving forward, as part of the team’s yearly exit interviews. Jack said part of what he will bring up with Khan will be about what kind of coach is needed if asked.
“When we do have the opportunity to speak to him, I’ll definitely be one of the first people to say that for sure if that question comes about.”
Having been through this plenty of times in the past, Jack’s advice to young players is simple, expect a restart, expect a completely new regime, and they’ll have to earn their role yet again.
“Then coming into the new season, you’re basically going to have to earn your spot and earn your role because there may be new faces and new people who don’t know what you can do,” he explained.
“It’s basically going to be a repeat year for you, so expect it to be a long year and just earn your keep because this league doesn’t really wait for anybody. That’s basically what I’d tell them, like keep working, don’t get out of shape this offseason, and stay on it because it’s a new draft every year.”
He’s right, and the Jaguars players will be in for a shock to the system when a new coach is eventually hired. A fresh start, perhaps this will be the change needed to bring some success to Jacksonville.