NFL Rumors: Jaguars Eye Rams OC Kevin O'Connell for HC Role to Replace Urban Meyer

Tyler Conway@@jtylerconwayFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 30, 2022

Los Angeles Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O'Connell coaches on the sideline during a NFL divisional playoff football game between the Los Angeles Rams and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Sunday, January 23, 2022 in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Alex Menendez)
AP Photo/Alex Menendez

Los Angeles Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O'Connell has reportedly emerged as a "key candidate" in the Jacksonville Jaguars' head coaching search.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported the Jaguars are hoping to have an in-person interview with O'Connell this week if the Rams are eliminated from the playoffs. O'Connell, already a finalist for the Minnesota Vikings' coaching job, was not on the Jaguars' initial round of candidates.

However, the Jacksonville job has been shrouded in uncertainty amid concerns candidates have over working with general manager Trent Baalke. Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich had emerged as the favorite for the job but has seemingly fallen back to the pack amid Baalke reservations.

Baalke famously clashed with Jim Harbaugh when the two were with the San Francisco 49ers. The 49ers chose Baalke over Harbaugh, a move that proved to be a major mistake and led to a brief rebuilding period after Baalke's own dismissal.

It's unclear whether O'Connell is willing to work with Baalke.

The former NFL quarterback has been an offensive assistant coach for the last seven seasons. He has been the Rams offensive coordinator under Sean McVay since 2020, a position McVay did not have on his staff in two of his first three seasons as a head coach.

McVay remains the Rams' play-caller, meaning O'Connell is a candidate for head coaching jobs without ever calling plays at the NFL level. Jay Gruden called the plays for the Washington Football Team during O'Connell's 2019 stint as their offensive coordinator.

While there is no linear path toward being a head coach, it's interesting—if not downright concerning—the Jaguars have seemingly torn up their initial list of candidates to start anew with O'Connell.

Jacksonville spent the 2021 season mired in a state of disarray under Urban Meyer, who was an abject failure in his attempt to transition from the college game to the NFL. Meyer's miscues as a head coach unquestionably did harm to Trevor Lawrence's development as a passer, with the No. 1 overall pick struggling amid a lack of talent and poor scheming.

The Jaguars' next head coach needs to be a home run to undo the mess of the Meyer era, and it doesn't appear their search is headed in a promising direction.