Tom Coughlin said it was time to turn the play-calling over to Bob Petrino, who Coughlin hired two years ago with this day in mind.
When Chris Palmer left the Jaguars two years ago, Coughlin began a search for an offensive coordinator that was not productive. Matt Cavanaugh and Mike Heimerdinger each turned down the job, leaving Coughlin without a legitimate candidate and to begin looking for a bright, young offensive mind he could develop for the future.
"My search led me to Bob Petrino," said Coughlin, whose intents were that "I would be able to turn the offensive controls over to him in a few short years. The timing is right for that now."
Coughlin announced Petrino as the Jaguars' new offensive coordinator today, officially filling the position for the first time since Palmer left. Coughlin had performed the offensive coordinator and play-calling duties in addition to his head coach responsibilities the past two seasons.
Petrino will do the play-calling next season, and although it hasn't been decided if Petrino will work from the press box or from the sideline, Coughlin made it sound as though he is leaning toward having Petrino on the sideline.
"It's something I worked for for a long time in my life," said Petrino, who had served as quarterbacks coach the past two seasons, as he learned the intricacies of Coughlin's offensive system. "I'm very confident we'll do well," he added.
Actually, the Jaguars did very well on offense last season, despite their 7-9 record. The Jaguars produced two wide receivers who each caught more than 90 passes, a tight end with more than 60 catches, a running back with 1,399 yards rushing, and a quarterback who threw for more than 3,600 yards in the league's seventh-ranked offense. However, Coughlin was criticized for having taken on too much responsibility, and his play-calling was the subject of constant attack.
"I do understand the reason I have a job is because everyone loves to come to the game to say what play they'd call," said Petrino, who is prepared to have his play-calling criticized, too. It would seem to go with the job.
Coughlin said he would not hire a separate quarterbacks coach. Petrino will continue in that capacity.
"I like to attack," Petrino said when asked about his philosophy of offense. "I like to go after the defense. Naturally, with Fred Taylor, our philosophy is to run the ball first, which only makes sense, but we'll be very aggressive, probably 50-50 (run-pass). What I believe in is very similar to what (Coughlin) believes in," he added.
"The main thing will be the play-calling. I don't see a change in much," Petrino said.
Coughlin confirmed Petrino would be left alone to do the play-calling, but added that he would add his "two cents" between offensive series.
"He's still the head coach," Petrino said with a smile.
"Bob has made a lot of decisions about the passing game the last couple of years," said Coughlin, who was pressed on why he had decided to promote Petrino now.
"I just go by what's best for our team right now. As we made that run in the second half of the season, I knew this is what I wanted to do," Coughlin said.
Petrino came to the Jaguars from the University of Louisville, where he was the coordinator of one of the most high-powered offenses in the country. He tells of having been surprised to get a call from Jacksonville one day and being asked if he was interested in the quarterbacks coach's job with the Jaguars.
Coughlin said he hadn't spoken to quarterback Mark Brunell about Petrino's promotion, and that contract negotiations with Brunell were no factor in the decision to promote Petrino.
"I knew I would have this opportunity if I showed him I could handle it," Petrino said.