TAMPA, Fla. — Merriam-Webster officially defines debacle as “a great disaster” or “a complete failure.” For NFL head coaches, debacle will forever be linked to the disastrous hire the Jacksonville Jaguars made when they brought in Urban Meyer to be the head coach.
While much will be written over just how badly the Urban Meyer-era went for the Jags; the focus for the team now turns to who will right the ship and try to turn a team regularly struggling to reach .500 into a contender.
Jaguars owner Shad Khan has quite a bit offer a new head coach, and general manager if he decides to completely clean house. The Jaguars have Trevor Lawrence, universally regarded as one of the top quarterbacks to enter the league in many years. The team will need to rebuild the offensive line and many other areas, but if Lawrence develops, at least has the QB position filled for a decade.
The team will have upwards of $70 million in cap space, or more, depending on how they handle their own free agents in the coming offseason. The Jags also have all their draft picks plus an extra third-round pick, an extra fifth-round pick, and possibly more picks in the 2022 NFL Draft.
So who might be the best candidate to lead the Jaguars into a new era? There are plenty of great candidates with one having a direct tie to both Jacksonville and Tampa. The following are in no particular order.
He’s a Super Bowl-winning coach who successfully developed Carson Wentz and when he went down and plugged in backup Nick Foles on Philadelphia’s way to a Super Bowl win. He’s got a 42-37-1 record and a 4-2 playoff record. But, it’s not often a coach is fired just after winning Super Bowl; so Khan will have to do some background research if Pederson makes the shortlist of coaches.
The dynamic former NFL player has coordinated some of the league’s most potent offenses ever during his time with the Kansas City Chiefs. Since he became offensive coordinator, the Chiefs have averaged 30.2 points and more than 400 yards per game. The Chiefs have also produced a league MVP quarterback and posted a 47-14 record. He comes highly recommended by Andy Reid and is well-liked by players across the league.
The Jacksonville Jaguars legend has been coaching under Bruce Arians here in Tampa and has worked with the greatest quarterback of all time for the last two years, Tom Brady. He’s already been a Super Bowl-winning coordinator and he’s had success as both a quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator. Hiring him would be tough for Bucs fans, but would be hugely popular with what is left of the Jaguars fanbase. Leftwich checks many boxes and called Jacksonville home for a long time.
He’s one of the most respected coaches in the NFL and led the Colts to two divisional titles while in Indianapolis. Perhaps the most impressive accomplishment in his career was taking the Detroit Lions, yes, the Lions, to the playoffs…twice. He carries a career record of 62-50 which translates to roughly nine to 10 wins per season. All of which only adds to his success working with multiple quarterbacks on their way to the playoffs or Super Bowl.
Caldwell, Leftwich, Bieniemy, or Pederson would all bring respect to a franchise in desperate need of it after the Urban debacle. It will be a long road back to relevance for the Jaguars, but the NFL has shown that road can often get greatly accelerated with the right coach at the helm.