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Byron Leftwich to the Jacksonville Jaguars hits snag, Nathaniel Hackett to get second interview

It’s been reported over the past several hours that Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich was close to becoming the next head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The fit seemed perfect enough. Leftwich is a former first-round pick of the Jags and led the team to some of the most success it has had as an organization. He’s also seen as an up-and-coming offensive mind after leading that side of the ball for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers over the past three seasons.

Unfortunately, it now appears that Leftwich might not be heading “home” to Duval after all.

“The Jacksonville Jaguars have scheduled a second interview with Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett for Thursday, according to league sources not authorized to speak publicly. The development, along with potentially holding more second interviews with head coaching candidates, comes after the Jaguars launched contract talks with Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich Tuesday night before discussions became complicated Wednesday morning and momentum toward an anticipated deal stalled,” Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network reported Wednesday.

Talk about some damning news for a downtrodden Jaguars organization. This also comes on the heels of a perceived rift between embattled general manager Trent Baalke and the Jaguars higer-ups regarding the search to replace Urban Meyer, who was fired after just 13 games as the Jaguars’ head coach this past season.

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What is going on with Byron Leftwich and the Jacksonville Jaguars?

Dallas Cowboys, Byron Leftwich
Nov 28, 2021; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers Offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich before the game against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

There’s an overriding issue here. According to Wilson, the presence of Baalke has been “controversial for some candidates who have expressed reservations about working with Baalke.”

This adds a whole new layer to the situation. Typically, teams don’t retain their general manager when a coach has been fired. This cycle has included the Jaguars, Broncos and Dolphins doing just that. It complicates the interview process in a big way.

The Byron Leftwich situation magnifies this further. As of Wednesday morning, he had already reached out to individuals to form a coaching staff. That included Buccaneers outside linebackers coach Larry Foote and wide receivers coach Kevin Garver.

Related: Top NFL head coach candidates, including Byron Leftwich

As for Hackett’s presence as a candidate, he’s been considered by multiple teams. That includes the Denver Broncos. Hackett has served as the Packers’ offensive coordinator over the past three seasons. Prior to that, he was in the same role with these Jaguars from 2016-18.

Indianapolis Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus and Jaguars interim head coach Darrell Bevell are also finalists for the job.

Needless to say, this hiring is going to set the tone for a Jaguars team that has lost 29 of its past 32 games and needs someone to aid in the development of 2021 No. 1 pick Trevor Lawrence at quarterback.

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