The birth of a new Jaguars era
Most franchises in the NFL usually only have rebuilds. It is very rare for franchises to have re-births. Teams get sold, coaches fired and hired, GM’s and players too. Rarely though, does it occur in the pace of which the Jacksonville Jaguars have done it. Most teams will go through an ownership change and other parts will stay in place for a few years while the owner learns the ropes. The Jags, however, are using a decidedly different route.
Shahid Khan has been the owner of the Jaguars for just a little over a year now. Since that time, he has had two head coaches and one GM, all with ties to the old ways of the franchise. Now with his bold new leadership style, Jaguars fans have a brand new GM along with a brand new coach. What do I mean by brand new? Neither of them have any experience at their respective top-level assignments that they have now. New GM Dave Caldwell has been a spark plug since his arrival here. His direct style of interviews and answering of questions has endeared himself already to the Jaguars faithful that had grown tired of the calm and demure demeanor of former GM Gene Smith. He has a certain “air” about him, if you will. New Head Coach Gus Bradley, the former Defensive Coordinator for Seattle, is a guy many went “who?” when they heard of his hire. Following his press conference, he made it clear why Caldwell and Khan hired him. He is a coach who has passion. It flowed from him with an easy-going smile and a way of directly, but not disrespectfully, engaging reporters and media members’ tough questions. If Jaguars fans don’t know the direction Mr. Khan wanted by the hiring of Dave Caldwell, it’s easy to see what he wants by hiring Gus Bradley.
So two guys with no experience at their current level, hired by an owner with just over a year of experience of ownership. Jacksonville hasn’t seen that level of newness since the franchise first began in 1995. Not since former owner Wayne Weaver hired a little known coach/GM from Boston College, Tom Coughlin, has the franchise been so new before. Rarely does that happen in the NFL. It usually takes moving of franchises to get this much change to happen to a franchise. For fans in Jacksonville, it is definitely a fresh start. The only people who have ties to the former regime are going to be players and a few leftover position coaches. The decision-making process is going to be new, the style of offense is going to be new, the leadership direction is going to be new.
I think this is a change that is much-needed. The organization has grown stale and to a point, predictable. Sure it’s easy to see and say that now, hindsight is always 20/20, but in discussions with fans and non-fans about the Jaguars, most would give a negative opinion and a disbelief that it would ever change with the old leadership. There are still some who doubt the hires now, even, but the majority has been overwhelmingly positive to the fresh start many are seeing the Jaguars take. It seems that this is what the franchise needed, a fresh start, a re-do, a re-birth, whatever you want to call, it has been needed, looking back.
The NFL community has taken notice of what’s going on in Jacksonville since Shad Khan has taken over the team, by his hiring moves and decisions that he is making. The hiring of two respected, up and comers in league circles, have a few people turning their heads and looking at Jacksonville and wondering what is next. These next few months are critical to the teams’ future. All that fans can do is hope and pray that Caldwell makes the right personnel choices in the draft and Free Agency and that Coach Bradley can implement a system that takes advantage of each one’s unique abilities. If that happens, this team and this town won’t be mocked anymore. Sometimes a bold leader is all that is needed to turn things around. It seems like the Jaguars have three, now.
Eric Harris is an NFL writer for TPF and can be contacted at EHarris@ThePenaltyFlagBlog.com.