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Caldwell on head-coaching search: 'We need to start the process'

Posted Dec 19, 2016

Jaguars GM David Caldwell says former Jaguars HC Tom Coughlin 'someone we would be interested in talking to' to replace former HC Gus Bradley


JACKSONVILLE – The task is critical, and goes beyond the obvious.

Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell said while a major objective in the coming weeks is finding a permanent head coach to replace Gus Bradley, more needs to be done.

“We’re going to fix anything that’s been wrong,” Caldwell said Monday.

Caldwell said considering the team’s 2-12 record and nine-game losing streak, issues go beyond the head coach.

“We’ve talked at length about what we need to do to correct this,” Caldwell said of him and owner Shad Khan. “I think we’re looking at this and looking at all facets of the organization, from the football department to our scouting department to our coaching staff.”

Caldwell said he and Khan decided at last week’s NFL Owners Meetings in Dallas that Bradley would be dismissed following the team’s game against Houston Sunday regardless of outcome. The Jaguars lost, 21-20, and Bradley was relieved of his duties shortly thereafter.

Caldwell said part of the reason for the timing was respect for Bradley, but he also said a major reason was a desire to start the head coaching search. The Los Angeles Rams last week fired Head Coach Jeff Fisher.

“We need to start the process for a new head coach,” Caldwell said, adding, “There are some dynamics that when the ball started rolling that we didn’t want to be left behind. … At the end of the day, I think when we made the decision, we felt like we had to do it.”

Khan said in a statement released Sunday that Caldwell will lead the search for a head coach. Caldwell said others involved in the decision will be Shad and Owner Tony Khan, Jaguars President Mark Lamping and “maybe select personnel staff.”

“My vision of looking at this team is this is going into our first year,” Caldwell said. “We’ve got to correct this and make sure that, regardless of how people got there, they have to live up to their abilities.”

Caldwell said he is confident the position “is going to be an attractive job.”

“I’ve gotten numerous phone calls today as opposed to 2013 where I was cold-calling,” Caldwell said, referring to the 2013 search that led to Bradley’s hiring. “We want a guy that can bring a winning culture to this team. We need someone that can develop our young players, obviously. We have our list of priorities and what we’re looking for. I think we’ll keep that internal for now, but I think for a guy to come in here and really set this culture in terms of us playing winning football. I think we’ve lost eight, nine or 10 games by a touchdown or less. Those are very winnable game for us and it could be a quick turnaround for us.”

Caldwell declined to discuss many specific possible candidates, but said the search could begin as early as Tuesday. He also said former Jaguars Head Coach Tom Coughlin, a two-time Super Bowl winner while the head coach of the New York Giants, “will be somebody we would be interested in talking to.”

Coughlin coached the Jaguars to a 68-60 record, two AFC Central titles and two AFC Championship Game appearances from 1995-2002.

“Tom’s a great man and a great person,” Caldwell said. “We’ll see where it goes. There will be a lot of guys we’ll be interested in talking to.… He’s got so much experience on myself or any coach that we have in this building. He’s a great individual. I think you can always learn from people. There’s always a quest for knowledge.”

Caldwell did not rule out Coughlin being hired in some capacity other than head coach.

“I’m comfortable with whatever is right for the organization,” Caldwell said. “Whatever Shad or Mark (Lamping) or myself feel helps us get to that next level, I’m more than comfortable with that. It’s not about me, it’s not about one person, it’s about the Jacksonville Jaguars and the city of Jacksonville and putting together a Super Bowl-contending team.”

Caldwell said there’s no timetable on a decision. Because Coughlin is not coaching he can be interviewed at any time. Teams must request permission to speak with candidates currently with NFL teams. Caldwell also said college coaches could be considered.

“There’s coaches that have different levels, different areas that we can start interviewing starting tomorrow,” Caldwell said.

The Jaguars on Monday named assistant head coach-offense/offensive line coach Doug Marrone interim head coach. Marrone coached the Buffalo Bills to a 15-17 record as head coach from 2013-2014, and Caldwell said Marrone will be a candidate “regardless of what happens over the next two weeks.”

Caldwell said while previous head-coaching experience wouldn’t necessarily be a “high priority,” he said he would consider it helpful.

“I don’t want to avoid a candidate if he doesn’t have it because you can be overlooking a great future head coach,” Caldwell said. “Experience is critical, even with our players. Our players are young, but they may lack experience in certain areas and I think experience is invaluable.”

Caldwell said whether or not he is familiar with a candidate will have no bearing on the process.

“I did that with Gus -- not that I wasn’t comfortable with him, but I had no prior experience with Gus … I had no prior relationship with him,” Caldwell said. “It’s what’s right for your organization and that’s the way it’s always been. …

“You want to find out as much about a person as you can and where they’ve been and how they’ve treated people, how they’ve acted. …You’ve got to sit down with the person and spend a lot of time not being impetuous with the decision and really kind of get to know the person before you make the decision. Then you’ve got to rely on your instincts when you select them.”

Caldwell said he wouldn’t rule out trading a draft selection for a coach, but added that it can be difficult to find the right fit in that scenario.

“That’s not an easy match,” he said.

Caldwell said Khan made clear he expects “big things” from the current search – and for the coming offseason and the 2017 season.

“I haven’t had to sell him or anything, but we have constant conversation about, ‘Hey, I’ll be the first to admit where I’ve made mistakes,’’’ Caldwell said. “I’ve laid it out to Shad different places where I failed Gus. …. There was no selling. Shad just said, ‘Hey, I expect big things.’’’

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