JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan has used consultants and a search firm in his previous searches for a general manager and head coach. Not this time.
Khan and team president Mark Lamping are in charge of conducting interviews as they search for replacements for general manager Dave Caldwell and coach Doug Marrone, who was fired last Monday. Khan said his goal is to hire the GM and coach around the same time, but that he’s not going to rush things.
These hires are critically important as he tries to essentially reboot the franchise. With the No. 1 overall draft pick (likely quarterback Trevor Lawrence), six other picks through the first four rounds, and the most salary-cap space available of any team (approximately $75 million), the Jaguars have the most attractive openings in the NFL and Khan knows it.
“Four years ago, when we did the search [for a head coach], the mindset really was with the head coaches I interviewed was we need a rebuild, we need extra time, we need this, we need that,” Khan said. “We’d won three games. My mindset was we have talent here, what would you do, etc., etc.? The most success we’ve had [during his nine seasons as owner] came right after that. 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.' 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.”
Here’s a quick look at the head coaching and GM candidates the Jaguars have interviewed, requested to interview or have been linked to by reports:
Urban Meyer: The former Florida and Ohio State coach is reportedly the team’s top candidate, but it’s unclear at this point if he has already interviewed or will interview over the coming days. Meyer has three national titles and the list of quarterback he recruited and signed and/or developed as a college head coach is impressive: Alex Smith, Tim Tebow, Cam Newton, J.T. Barrett and Dwayne Haskins, among others.
Raheem Morris: He was named the Falcons' interim head coach after Dan Quinn was fired on Oct. 11 and led the team to a 4-7 record. None of the victories, however, came against teams that finished the season with winning records (Carolina, Minnesota, Las Vegas and Denver). Morris, who led Tampa Bay to a 17-31 record from 2009-11, has earned support from current players to become the permanent replacement. Morris interviewed Thursday.
Robert Saleh: The San Francisco 49ers’ defensive coordinator has either interviewed with or has interviews lined up with five of the six teams that are searching for a head coach: Atlanta, Jacksonville, Detroit, Los Angeles Chargers and New York Jets. He is scheduled to interview this weekend.
Eric Bieniemy: Kansas City’s OC has done or is scheduled to do interviews with Atlanta, Jacksonville, Detroit, the Los Angeles Chargers and the New York Jets during the top-seeded Chiefs’ bye week. He’s spent eight seasons with Andy Reid learning how to develop QBs and call plays and it would be a major surprise if he doesn’t get a head coaching job in this cycle.
Arthur Smith: Ryan Tannehill went from a player the Miami Dolphins didn’t want to one of the league’s top five QBs (he’s fifth in total QBR, ahead of Drew Brees, Russell Wilson and Tom Brady, among others). Smith, Tennessee’s offensive coordinator, is a big reason for that. The Jaguars have requested an interview with Smith.
Brian Daboll: He has been the offensive coordinator with four NFL teams (Cleveland, Miami, Kansas City and Buffalo) as well as co-offensive coordinator at the University of Alabama. Daboll is in his third season with the Bills and has turned QB Josh Allen from a 52.8-percent passer as a rookie in 2018 to a 69.2-percent passer and league MVP candidate. Daboll has been linked to the Jaguars, but cannot interview until Jan. 10-11 because the Bills play this weekend.
Trent Baalke: He was hired in February to be the team’s director of player personnel and has been serving as the interim GM since Dave Caldwell was fired on Nov. 29. Baalke spent six seasons as the 49ers general manager and hired head coaches Jim Harbaugh, Jim Tomsula and Chip Kelly before being fired along with Kelly after the 2016 season. San Francisco went 51-44 and made three consecutive appearances in the NFC Championship Game during his tenure.
Rick Smith: The former Houston Texans GM is one of the top available candidates and has interviewed with Atlanta, Detroit and Jacksonville. Denver also reportedly has interest.
Terry Fontenot: He has served as the New Orleans Saints’ assistant GM of pro personnel for the past six years.
Jerry Reese: He spent 23 years with the New York Giants and was the team’s GM from 2007-17, during which time the Giants won two Super Bowls.
Ray Farmer: He’s a scouting consultant with the Los Angeles Rams now but was Cleveland’s GM from 2014-15. He was suspended for the first four games of the 2015 season and the team was fined $250,000 after an investigation revealed he sent texts to the coaching staff regarding play calls during games, which violated NFL rules.
Louis Riddick: The ESPN analyst also has interviewed with Atlanta, Houston and Detroit.