Jaguars Rumors: Colts DC Matt Eberflus 'Strongly Backed' by Trent Baalke in HC Search

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 22, 2022

BALTIMORE, MD - OCTOBER 11: Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus watches during the Indianapolis Colts vs. Baltimore Ravens Monday Night Football NFL game at M&T Bank Stadium on October 11, 2021 in Baltimore, MD. (Photo by Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Jacksonville Jaguars general manager Trent Baalke has reportedly "aligned" himself with Indianapolis Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus amid the team's search for a new head coach.

CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora reported Saturday that Baalke's reputation within coaching circles is "quite poor," which has complicated the Jags' process and left the GM reaching out to potential candidates to "gauge their interest in him."

He's "strongly backed" Eberflus after another one of his preferred candidates, former Houston Texans head coach Bill O'Brien, fell out of contention to fill the vacancy, per La Canfora.

The decision to retain Baalke, who was hired as the director of player personnel in February 2020 and promoted to general manager nine months later following the dismissal of David Caldwell, came as a surprise given the team's struggles in 2021.

Jacksonville posted a 3-14 record to put itself in position to make the first overall pick in the draft for the second straight year.

A major reason for the lack of success was the disastrous tenure of head coach Urban Meyer, who posted a 2-11 record while dealing with a constant barrage of controversies. The Jags compiled a 1-3 mark under interim head coach Darrell Bevell to finish the campaign.

The coaching turmoil wasn't the only problem, though. The Jacksonville front office, led by Baalke, failed to make enough improvements to the roster around quarterback Trevor Lawrence, the 2021 No. 1 pick, and struggled on both sides of the ball.

It created a situation where a total rebuild of the front office and coaching staff seemed in order, but team owner Shad Khan and Co. decided to retain Baalke and involve him in the head coaching search.

The result has been a "bizarre coaching process" that's left many of the top candidates holding "significant reservations" about how to move forward if Baalke is going to remain with the team, per La Canfora.

Meanwhile, Eberflus has served as the Colts defensive coordinator since 2018. The team has ranked in the top 10 of takeaways in all four of his seasons and in the top 10 of points allowed three times.

If Jacksonville could pair the 51-year-old Ohio native with a highly touted offensive coordinator, there would be reason for optimism within the coaching staff. But there would still be questions about whether the front office could revitalize the roster.

All told, it's not hard to see why frustration is beginning to mount within the Jags fanbase with the organization having earned just one playoff berth since Khan bought the team in early 2012.