NFL AM: Who Is The Best Fit For The Jaguars Head Coaching Job?


Jags Interview Tom Coughlin

The Jacksonville Jaguars are one of the three franchises that currently have a head coaching position open.  According to an ESPN report, the team reportedly interviewed former Jaguars and Super Bowl winning New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin on Wednesday.

Coughlin was reportedly the first candidate to officially interview for any head coaching job, mainly because he’s one of the only viable candidates that currently does not have a job in coaching.

Is he the best fit for the Jaguars?

There’s no denying his credentials as his 70-year old hands can be decorated with a pair of Super Bowl rings.  Coughlin has worked under some of the best coaches in NFL history and has created a potential Hall of Fame legacy in his own right.  He knows the franchise, as he is the one who helped launch it, still lives in the area and has great ties to the community.

All of those things that make him a great fit are why the Jaguars should look in a different direction.

You can’t go home again.

The idea of a Coughlin homecoming will warm the hearts of many in North Florida, but there’s been virtually no case where a head coach returning to where he started has worked out.

For Coughlin’s own legacy, he should remain retired, even if the competitive juices are still flowing.  He’s one of the only coaches who has been fired from a city and his subsequent success endeared himself in the hearts of Jacksonville fans.  Why would he want to spoil that?

Although the Jaguars have what could be a solid nucleus, there is a major question mark at quarterback with Blake Bortles.  Since general manager Dave Caldwell is staying aboard in his role, will the new head coach have full control to make personnel decisions at the QB position?  How would it reflect on Caldwell if the new head coach wants to go in a different direction?  There are major question marks on whether they’ll be able to function together.

Coughlin’s interview with Jaguars owner Shad Khan was reportedly without Caldwell in attendance. That, in itself speaks volumes.  Was the interview for the actual coaching job or in a front office position?  Did the meeting without the GM take place because Khan wanted an unbiased opinion of the team’s roster?  Regardless, it’s not a great sign for Caldwell.

Then there’s Coughlin’s age.  Since we’re speculating and not hiring, we can use age discrimination.  Coughlin is 70 years old.  How much longer can the team expect him to fulfill his obligations? If he were to coach three more years, that would be a victory.  Unfortunately, in a very best case scenario, the organization would be going through a scheme change now and then three years from now.  Assuming Bortles wins the starting quarterback job, he will be working with his fourth different offensive coordinator in as many years and if he were to somehow make it through the next two years, likely then a fifth.

All of the reasons why Coughlin should not be the Jaguars next head coach aren’t an indictment on him or his credentials.  If he wants to coach again, it should be in Buffalo, or possibly a job that isn’t yet open.

You can’t go home again, at least not as head coach.

Who Would Be A Good Fit?

Although it’s arguable how good of a position the Jaguars head coaching vacancy is, there are only 32 of these jobs and there will be plenty of suitors.  Especially with a big money owner who has shown blind loyalty in the very recent past.

Josh McDaniels, Offensive Coordinator, New England Patriots

McDaniels should be the Jaguars first choice as their new head coach.  He has head coaching experience which has humbled him, and he is a much different and much better coach now than he was a few years back when he took over the Denver Broncos.

Tom Brady’s offensive coordinator has routinely extracted the very most out of his talent, and his formations and game plans are unique on a week-to-week basis, according to the team’s opponent.  McDaniels is a bright mind with experience who’s arrow is pointing up.

Kyle Shanahan, Offensive Coordinator, Atlanta Falcons

Shanahan has done a tremendous job with quarterback Matt Ryan and has helped turn the Falcons back into a division champ.  His own father, who won multiple Super Bowls has endorsed him and Shanahan has thrived working with different types of quarterbacks in different systems.

The only negative against him is his lack of head coaching experience.

Mike Smith, Defensive Coordinator Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Coach Smith has been successful as a head coach before in Atlanta, where he worked with Dave Caldwell.  He has routinely elevated the talent on his defenses and is very familiar with the area and culture being a Central Florida native and spending several years as the Jaguars defensive coordinator.

The biggest negative against Smith is that he’s a defensive guy, and although the Jags defense needs to be fixed, one would assume that they would want an offensive guy to try and fix Bortles.

Jim Bob Cooter, Offensive Coordinator, Detroit Lions

Cooter has done a tremendous job “fixing” Matt Stafford and turning the Lions into a feared offense despite losing Calvin Johnson.  He’s an ascending head coach who has quickly elevated through the ranks.

Cooter’s main negative has to do with experience, as he’s only been a coordinator since 2015, and he’s only 32 years old.  Being a head coach is a huge responsibility to take on at that age.

About Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein is the managing football editor for Football Insiders and has covered the NFL for over a decade.  Charlie has hosted drive time radio for NBC and ESPN affiliates in different markets around the country, along with being an NFL correspondent for ESPN Radio and WFAN.  He has been featured on the NFL Network as well as Sirius/XM NFL Radio and has been published on Fox Sports, Sports Illustrated, ESPN as well as numerous other publications.