11 Coaches That May Replace Jack Del Rio for the Jacksonville Jaguars
As a writer, I often find myself with the unenviable task of thoroughly criticizing my favorite team. Yet, as the old saying goes, if you aren't a part of the solution then you are a part of the problem.
With many of my readers suffering through a difficult 1-5 start in 2011, I thought it would be proper to shine a little light into the future.
Jack Del Rio's tenure is unquestionably coming to a close, and the next head coaching hire in Jacksonville absolutely has to be on the mark. The Jaguars can't afford to make another bad hire and waste four or five seasons of Blaine Gabbert's career in mediocrity.
The next hire has to be right, and I believe it will be.
Luckily for Jacksonville, 2012 promises to have a large pool of available head coaching candidates. However, the next coach for the Jaguars must show the ability to cultivate a dynamic offense and assist in the maturation of a young quarterback.
While the losses mount, the cupboard isn't bare. With Maurice Jones-Drew, Blaine Gabbert, Tyson Alualu and a host of quality new signings on defense, the Jaguars' nucleus is in place.
With that in mind, let's do what the fans in Jacksonville want. Let's focus on the solution.
Here are 11 coaches that could take over if, indeed, Jack Del Rio isn't back for 2012.
Before you burn your computer, bear with me.
Dirk Koetter isn't the sexiest name out there, true. But, have you stopped to consider that Dirk Koetter got 71 touchdown passes out of David Garrard from 2007-2010? During that stretch, Garrard's quarterback rating, yards per game and interception ratio all dramatically improved compared to the first few seasons in his career.
While you can say that was the result of natural improvement over time, consider how dramatically these numbers changed.
Prior to 2007, Garrard averaged nearly 50 yards fewer per start, and his average interceptions per 100 attempts was nearly four times higher than in his first season with Koetter.
While 2007 may seem like a mirage in Garrard's career, consider that Koetter helped him to achieve his career-best 23 touchdowns in 2010, while only playing 14 games.
Furthermore, Koetter clearly has good chemistry with Blaine Gabbert, and is helping the young quarterback to progress steadily. Gabbert trusts Koetter, and retaining him would prevent Gabbert from having to learn another offensive system in just his second year.
Still not convinced?
The conservative nature of the 2011 Jaguars is not indicative of Koetter. It is indicative of Jack Del Rio, a defensive-minded coach in a basketball-on-grass league.
In nine years as a head coach, Koetter boasted a 66-44 record, with only two losing seasons. Included within are his 4-2 bowl record and two conference championships at Boise State and Arizona State.
Koetter had four seasons with eight or more wins and two seasons with 10 wins, all the while having some of the most explosive offenses in college football.
He was a hot head coaching candidate in 2010, and nearly got the job in Denver. Koetter will get interest after 2011 as a head coach, but will likely get the opportunity as interim head coach in Jacksonville if Del Rio is fired during the season.
Koetter will make a better head coach than you think.
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Brian Schottenheimer gets a lot of talk as a head coaching candidate, but I hope the Jaguars go in a different direction.
In my opinion, Schottenheimer gets undeserved press for a few reasons. Primarily, his father is a coaching legend. However, being a coaching legend doesn't mean anything for the son's success (ask Mike Shula).
Furthermore, the city of New York could hype and sexualize a bologna sandwich, so it makes sense that the offensive coordinator of the Jets might be considered a hot head coaching commodity.
However, Mark Sanchez doesn't seem to be progressing under Schottenheimer's direction, and the Jets offense looks terrible.
Schottenheimer is losing a little luster, but his name will remain in the mix.
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The Jaguars could do a lot worse than hire an offensive line coach with a bust in Canton.
Grimm will get the opportunity soon, however, and the Jaguars could use a guy that could help two struggling, young offensive tackles to mature.
Eben Britton and Eugene Monroe have struggled, but could become the bedrock of a solid offensive line under Grimm's direction.
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Everyone in Jacksonville is quick to point out that Bill Cowher has allegedly bought a house near Jacksonville approximately 972 times in the past 18 months. Some consider Cowher's interest in the area as indication that he is waiting for Del Rio to get shown the door before taking over.
I just don't see it happening.
Coaches whose legacies are set are always timid to get back into the role. Having accomplished all there is to accomplish, a situation would have to be perfect for Cowher to consider.
While I don't think Cowher would have the Jaguars at the bottom of his list, he just seems comfortable enjoying watching his children enter adulthood.
Oh, and being a terrible broadcaster.
In 2009, Perry Fewell went 3-4 in an interim role with a terrible Buffalo Bills team. Despite not getting the Buffalo job, Fewell continues as a strong head coaching candidate while the New York Giants defensive coordinator.
Fewell is a pretty intense guy, which would be an abrupt change from Del Rio who may or may not have a pulse.
Fewell was also a former assistant in Jacksonville under Tom Coughlin, and figures to be a top-five head coaching candidate in 2012. He would be an excellent hire, despite being a defensive-minded coach for a team that needs obvious offensive help.
Mel Tucker, the Jaguars defensive coordinator, is quietly doing one hell of a job.
Tucker is showing that, given a few talented players to work with, he can build an excellent defense. The sieve that was the Jaguars defense in 2010 has morphed into a top-10 unit, and Tucker deserves much of the credit.
While Tucker figures to be an under-the-radar head coaching candidate, Jacksonville will give a long, hard look at the man that deserves kudos for a heroic coaching effort in 2011.
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Tom Coughlin coming back to Jacksonville is unlikely, but it certainly isn't impossible.
If the Giants fail to make the playoffs in 2011, Coughlin could find his head of the chopping block. If that happens, it's not inconceivable that Wayne Weaver would consider bringing back the initial coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Coughlin would come back with much more credentials than he left with, having won a Super Bowl with the Giants. At his age, Coughlin wouldn't be a long-term fix, but could conceivably turn around the Jaguars in a short time.
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As a television analyst, Brian Billick looks uncomfortable. I don't think he enjoys smiling into a camera or reading a script.
I think he would rather coach quarterbacks and cuss out referees.
While it's not certain Billick would entertain an offer from the Jaguars, the Super Bowl-winning coach would be a guy that Jacksonville must investigate.
Billick would bring order and progress to an offense in the doldrums, and prove to be incredibly valuable to the maturation of Blaine Gabbert.
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Greg Olson, offensive coordinator of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, is an under-the-radar candidate.
But, should he be?
Olson, in his third-year with Tampa Bay, has done a masterful job of handling Josh Freeman. This speaks to his ability to work with and develop a young quarterback, which is something the Jaguars must consider.
The Buccaneers have a growing, dynamic offense with several overachieving young stars that have Olson to thank for their success.
While not a household name, Olson would be a great option and exactly the type of candidate the Jaguars need.
Tom Clements is the current quarterbacks coach of the Green Bay Packers, and former CFL quarterback in the 1970s and 1980s.
While the initial thought is that having Clements, who deserves much of the credit for Aaron Rodgers' development, would be ideal for Blaine Gabbert, I think the Jaguars should go in another direction.
My initial concern is that Clements is nearly 60 years old, and hasn't really gotten much hype as a head coaching candidate. Whether he isn't interested or doesn't interview well, his success with Rodgers still makes him worth a phone call.
Winston Moss is currently the assistant head coach of the Green Bay Packers, and a former NFL linebacker of 11 seasons.
Moss is highly regarded by Mike McCarthy, and is considered an up-and-coming head coaching candidate. While hiring another former NFL linebacker to coach the team may frighten many Jaguars fans, Moss apparently interviews well and seems to have the intangibles of game management that an NFL coach needs.
Having been McCarthy's right-hand man, Moss would combine his previous experience with McCarthy's knowledge and likely add an intensity the Jaguars currently lack.
In addition, Moss has single-handedly witnessed the maturation of Aaron Rodgers, and could relay much of what he has seen in Rodgers' maturation process to Blaine Gabbert.