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Rift could be growing as Jacksonville Jaguars narrow down head coach search

Vincent Frank

The 2021 season represented even more drama off the field and some disastrous on-field performances from the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Jacksonville finished the campaign with a 3-14 mark, firing embattled head coach Urban Meyer 13 games into his tenure in Duval. The season also ended with Jaguars fans putting up a clown party to protest the likely retention of general manager Trent Baalke during a Week 18 game against the Indianapolis Colts.

Having lost 29 of their past 32 games and with owner Shahid Khan increasingly under a microscope, recent reports from Jacksonville continue to paint the organization in a bad light.

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Rift growing between Jacksonville Jaguars’ brass during head coach search?

jacksonville jaguars coaching search
Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan during Friday afternoon’s press conference at TIAA Bank Field. After his arrival in Jacksonville, Florida Friday morning, April 30, 2021, Jacksonville Jaguars first-round draft pick Trevor Lawrence along with team owner Shad Khan, head coach Urban Meyer and the Jaguars general manager Trent Baalke held a press conference in the afternoon inside TIAA Bank Field. They were also joined by the Jaguars 25th pick in the first round of the draft and former Clemson teammate of Lawrence, running back Travis Etienne. [Bob Self/Florida Times-Union]

The report from NFL Media’s Mike Garafolo points to Alabama offensive coordinator and former Houston Texans head coach Bill O’Brien being a candidate for the job. He recently interviewed with the brass and is seen as a favorite of the aforementioned Baalke. That’s where the rift starts.

Speaking on NFL Now earlier Tuesday, Garafolo noted that he’s “not getting the vibe” that O’Brien will be the choice to take over the Jaguars’ sinking ship despite him being a “favored candidate of Jaguars general manager Trent Baalke.”

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This could very well clear some things up as it relates to the power struggle in Jacksonville. The owner and his son, chief football strategy officer Tony Khan, have the final decision. President Mark Lamping is also involved in the decision-making process.

That leaves Baalke in somewhat of a precarious position. Sure the Jags have opted to retain him (for now), but that seems to be in more of a figurehead role than anything else.

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Jacksonville Jaguars head coach candidates

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New offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien watches quarterback Bryce Young throw during practice. The Alabama Crimson Tide opened practice for the 2021 season as they prepare to defend the 2020 National Championship Friday, Aug. 6, 2021. [Staff Photo/Gary Cosby Jr.]

The Jaguars will conduct a second interview with Indianapolis Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus on Thursday. It’s the first of what will be at least two second interviews with candidates for the head coaching job. As of right now, O’Brien has not been scheduled for a second interview. Here’s a list of known candidates for the opening.

  • Matt Eberflus, defensive coordinator, Indianapolis Colts
  • Kellen Moore, offensive coordinator, Dallas Cowboys
  • Dan Quinn, defensive coordinator, Dallas Cowboys
  • Byron Leftwich, offensive coordinator, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  • Todd Bowles, defensive coordinator, Tampa Bay Bucaneers
  • Nathaniel Hackett, offensive coordinator, Green Bay Packers
  • Doug Pederson, former NFL head coach
  • Jim Caldwell, former NFL head coach
  • Darrell Bevell, Jacksonville Jaguars interim head coach
  • Bill O’Brien, Alabama Crimson Tide offensive coordinator

As for O’Brien, he is being considered an underrated head coach candidate this cycle after helping lead Alabama to the national championship game a season ago. Under O’Brien, quarterback Bryce Young earned the Heisman Trophy.

From 2014-20 as the Houston Texans’ head coach, O’Brien posted a 52-48 record. He led the team to four playoff appearances in parts of seven seasons — ultimately washing out after taking over general manager duties.

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