What’s next for the Jacksonville Jaguars?
Now that the debacle of a the season that the Jacksonville Jaguars endured is over, it’s time to for the front office to figure out just exactly where this franchise is headed. Shad Khan has already made one big move in the firing of General Manager Gene Smith on Monday morning. Black Monday has arrived for this franchise and for some fans, it couldn’t have come sooner. I have been on record as saying I thought that Gene Smith deserved one more year with the team. Obviously I am not the owner and he decided that the time was now. I can’t argue for him, his record was enough to say goodbye. However, anyone within the organization will tell you, that we did get rid of a genuinely good man who cared more than anyone else about this franchise, being here since the teams’ inception. While it’s justifiable, it couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.
But that’s how it is in the NFL, nice guys don’t always come out ahead and Gene Smith’s questionable record, poor draft picks, and the team’s 2-14 record this year, all came into play in the firing. So now that the GM is gone, where do the Jaguars go from here?
Priority number one is getting a new GM. A few names have been thrown out there. Most notably Tom Gamble, the director of player personnel for the San Francisco 49ers and Jason Licht the same position for the Arizona Cardinals. Licht has experience in the New England front office as well and Gamble is known within the Philadelphia Eagles organization also. Either one would be a fine choice as long as they do not try to bring in guys who are “secrets”. What do I mean by that? Well one criticism of Smith was that he tried to “outsmart” the rest of the league by bringing in little known guys from under the radar. “Secrets” if you will. While that is fine when they work out, far too often, they do not. If they can avoid that type of acquisition of talent, then either GM would be a fine hire, and a well-respected hire, from within the NFL community.
While it looks like Mike Mularkey will stay as Head Coach, his future has to be in doubt as well. Mularkey, in a press conference on Monday, said that he is the coach until he is told otherwise, and he has not been told otherwise. My thinking on this is that if Mularkey is around, then the new GM will only be given a 3 year contract. That way both coach and GM are tied into the same time period. It makes sense as Khan is looking for a measured, yet “win now”, approach. And 3 years is about the time frame given for such projects in the NFL.
The other unknown is the quarterback situation. Gabbert, Henne, or someone else? Injuries, poor play, and just general ineffectiveness contributed to this being the worst year ever for the Jaguars. Quarterback is high on the list as a possible need. Some analysts and talking heads are saying there isn’t a franchise QB in the draft this year. Mularkey insists that there is a guy he can win with on this team. And yes, I am purposely avoiding the other “rumor” out there. I don’t think he will be the answer here either. Whatever direction this team goes in all falls on the shoulders of whomever the new GM and Mularkey decide to put under center.
A lot of questions were answered on Monday, but a lot more were opened up. This team desperately needs new life breathed into it. This community has embraced a losing team like no other team’s fan-base would have in similar situations. It’s beyond time to put a consistent winner on the field and there is no better opportunity than now, to do it. I have to credit a person on Twitter for this phrase, @feeltheteal, but it is an apt one: The Teal Phoenix is rising from the ashes. With a New Year on the horizon, so shall a new, rejuvenated Jacksonville Jaguars, rise with it.