The 11 month nightmare known as the Urban Meyer era has come to a close. Jaguars interim head coach Darrell Bevell will steer the ship over the next month, but one of the biggest questions facing the franchise is who will be the next head coach?
There are a few different criteria I'm looking for in the Jacksonville Jaguars' next head coach. Of course, I don't get to make those decisions, but if I were in charge, I'd be looking for a genuine leader that can establish trust, be accountable, and communicate and connect with modern players, coaches, and team employees. In addition, I'd want to make sure we're bringing in an offensive mind that has had success working with quarterbacks in the past. The next head coach of the Jags also needs to articulate a clear and tangible vision for the offense, the coaching staff, and the entire organization. We're not clear on who the general manager will be. It's widely expected that current GM Trent Baalke will not return in 2022. If that's the case, it's entirely unclear how Jaguars' owner Shad Khan will attack rebuilding his front office and coaching staff. Last year, Khan shared that believed in a coach-centric organization, but more recent developments may cause him to back off of that stance. Regardless of the order of hirings, alignment will be key. The general manager and head coach MUST be on the same page. Finally, the next head coach needs to have the Trevor Lawrence seal of approval.
With all that in mind, here are my top two potential coaching candidates for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The former head coach in Indianapolis and Detroit, Caldwell is a calm, confident leader who is revered by coaches and players that he's worked with. As a head coach, he led his teams to five winning seasons in seven years and has an overall record of 62-50. He got a raw deal at the end of both of his runs. In Indy, he was fired after a 2-14 season in which Peyton Manning was injured, and the cupboard was pretty bare in terms of talent. Caldwell led the Lions to a 9-7 record during his final season in Detroit and had an overall record of 36-28 with the Lions. If you can win in Detroit, you can win anywhere. As a former offensive coordinator, Caldwell knows how to work with and design effective offenses. He also comes from the Tony Dungy coaching tree and has a similar leadership style. For me, his leadership qualities, offensive acumen, and past success make for a strong resume. He should be able to establish a culture of trust and hard work while also developing Trevor Lawrence and molding a winning team. Caldwell is 66 and had to step away from his last post to take care of some health issues. But in his most recent interview from August of 2020, Caldwell said he adjusted his diet and is back in good health. Assuming that's still the case, he's a high-quality candidate. Caldwell interviewed for the head coaching job with the Texans in 2020.
This is a Super Bowl winning head coach. Pederson was the head coach in Philly from 2016-2020. Not only was he the head coach for the Eagles during that run, but he was also the play-caller on offense for much of his time there, including the Super Bowl season. During his first four seasons in Philly, he won 42 games, including the playoffs. In 2020, his final year with the Eagles, the team sputtered and won just four games. There were issues on many levels, but Pederson was not entirely without some blame. Following the season, Pederson wanted to promote passing game coordinator Press Taylor to OC, but owner Jeffrey Lurie had other plans, which ultimately led to the divorce. Now, at just 53 years old, Pederson is looking to get back in the game. He's a former quarterback that should be able to identify with Trevor Lawrence and build a modern NFL offense. Growing under Andy Reid and Mike Holmgren as a player gave Pederson a strong foundation. As a coach, he also got his start under Andy Reid, which helped him build upon his knowledge of NFL offenses and leadership. Pederson is a players coach that should do well to establish a culture of hard work and trust.
Between these two, it's pretty much a toss-up for me. Both have done some incredible things in the NFL as head coaches. There aren't your typical "retreads." Having a winning record with two different organizations is no small feat. Jim Caldwell did that. Winning a Super Bowl and two division titles in Philly is another massive accomplishment that only Doug Pederson has achieved. These two are well-liked around the league, and both have offensive minds. Caldwell's past health issues and age offer some questions that need answering, but if he's in good health, he's right there with Pederson. I believe Jim Caldwell or Doug Pederson would be home-run hires for an organization that desperately needs stability.
I'm not patently against hiring an up-and-comer like Kellen Moore or Byron Leftwich, but when you compare their resumes to those of Doug Pederson and Jim Caldwell, it really isn't close. And from the perspective of having a vision for how an organization will look, feel, and operate over a handful of years, Caldwell and Pederson feel like more of a sure bet than the young guns.
The odds for the Jaguars' next head coach via Sportsline:
Doug Pederson +300
Byron Leftwich +400
Josh McDaniels +500
Kellen Moore +500
Eric Bieniemy +500
Brian Daboll +700
Jim Caldwell +1000
Nathaniel Hackett +1200
Raheem Morris +1300
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