The Jacksonville Jaguars are still deep in the coaching search. We’re heading into the divisional round of the NFL playoffs and it’s been a mostly quiet week for the team. Shad Khan and Trent Baalke have conducted the first round of interviews. There’s been a second interview with one candidate.
It’s clear that Khan wants to leave no stone unturned this year after making a colossal mistake in hiring Urban Meyer. Some candidates are still in the playoffs, so this process will continue to play out. Let’s take a look at the candidates and what could happen going forward.
Jacksonville Jaguars News and Notes: The Coaching Search
The Jacksonville Jaguars Head Coaching Candidates
At this point, the Jaguars have interviewed 10 candidates for head coach: Matt Eberflus, Byron Leftwich, Nathaniel Hackett, Jim Caldwell, Doug Pederson, Todd Bowles, Kellen Moore, Bill O’Brien, and Darell Bevell. The Jaguars also requested an interview with Dan Quinn, but he turned down the request.
Candidates to Watch
Though there are close to ten candidates, there’s a smaller list that has a realistic shot at making the final cut. The most likely candidates are Matt Eberflus, Byron Leftwich, Nathaniel Hackett, Jim Caldwell, and Doug Pederson. Two of these candidates are still in the playoffs. The fact that some are in the postseason means the search could go on for a few more weeks.
#Colts DC Matt Eberflus, who has emerged as a hot candidate for at least two HC openings, has his second interview with the #Jaguars today. It is in-person. Jax likely to also add a 2nd interview with a coach whose team is currently in the playoffs.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 20, 2022
Eberflus is the first confirmed finalist for the Jaguars coaching job. He’s the current defensive coordinator for the Indianapolis Colts. His second interview with the team was on the 20th. Some think that an offensive-minded coach would be best to lead the team, especially considering Trevor Lawrence and his development. However, a head coach just needs to be a good leader. He would have to hire a strong offensive coordinator to help mentor Lawrence though. Eberflus has been the defensive coordinator for the Colts for four years and has gained a lot of respect in that time. He’s also a finalist for the Chicago Bears head coach opening.
Leftwich is the hometown favorite. He was the seventh overall pick of the 2003 NFL Draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars. Though Leftwich didn’t have a great playing career, the connection has many fans yearning to see him back in teal and black. NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport also reported that Jacksonville is likely to schedule a second interview “with a coach whose team is currently in the playoffs”. Leftwich fits that description and it seems that steam has been gaining for his candidacy over the past week or so. If Leftwich is Khan’s pick, he’ll have to wait until the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are out of the playoffs.
Hackett also has ties to Jacksonville. He was with the Jaguars from 2015 to 2018, initially as the quarterbacks coach and finally as the offensive coordinator. Hackett has been the offensive coordinator of the Green Bay Packers since 2019. Aaron Rodgers is quoted as saying Hackett’s head coaching candidacy is “a little overdue“. That’s high praise from a future hall of fame quarterback. Hackett is also a candidate for head coach openings with the Denver Broncos and Chicago Bears.
Denver Broncos coaching candidate Nathaniel Hackett with a incredible answer about coaching anyone as if they’re a starter.
Love this answer. pic.twitter.com/eX8aICNDUk
— 𝘾𝙖𝙢𝙚𝙧𝙤𝙣 𝙋𝙖𝙧𝙠𝙚𝙧 (@CameronParkerPO) January 11, 2022
Jim Caldwell and Doug Pederson
Caldwell and Pederson are the two people on this list (of candidates to watch) that have head coaching experience. Caldwell was successful with the Indianapolis Colts and Detroit Lions, while Pederson won a Super Bowl with the Philadelphia Eagles. Since neither is currently employed by an NFL team, either could be hired at any moment. But the Jaguars are likely waiting to finish up their other interviews.
Though Eberflus is the only announced finalist to this point, it’s possible Caldwell and Pederson had strong interviews and are playing a waiting game until the team conducts second interviews. They both have more robust experience in the league and Khan may not need to interview them a second time to know what he thinks of them. Caldwell is also reportedly a candidate for the Bears job.
The Jacksonville Jaguars Must Endure an Extended Hiring Process
We’re already three weeks into January and no team has hired a new head coach yet. This is partly due to the NFL adding a 17th game to the season. It’s pushed back the schedule and the playoffs will also take longer than they used to. If the Jags have their sights set on Leftwich or Hackett, they may have to wait another few weeks. At any rate, other teams with head coaching vacancies should start hiring soon and that will inevitably speed up the process for everyone.
Embed from Getty Images