JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser examines the day that was on the day after the 2016 regular-season finale – with an eye on Jaguars players' thoughts on the upcoming search for a new head coach
A LOT OF RUMOURS
Allen Hurns knows there will be change.
That much is certain, and Hurns and other Jaguars players understand they will be playing next season for a new head coach – and very possibly a new coaching staff.
As for how much they will follow the process, and how much they will worry about it during the coming days or weeks … Hurns said the reality is not much. It's not that players don't care about the outcome.
It's just that there's not much they can do about it either way.
"I don't get too caught up into who's it going to be; there are a lot of rumors," Hurns said Monday, a day after the Jaguars' 2016 season ended with a 24-20 loss to the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. "You never really know. For me, I'll just wait. …
"I won't be looking at any of that – not on Twitter or anything like that. You can hear rumors. Some of them may be true and some of them may not. So, I try not to give them anything."
Wide receiver Allen Robinson echoed the thoughts of teammates when he said he wouldn't follow the search "too, too closely."
"Understanding how this league works, there is a lot of stuff that will inevitably be out of your control," Robinson said. "For me, it's about going into the offseason having a plan and improving my game. We understand that there's going to be a head coach. Who that is is out of our control."
Former Jaguars Head Coach Tom Coughlin reportedly interviewed for the position last week, and General Manager David Caldwell has said that interim head coach Doug Marrone will be a candidate.
New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive coordinator Mike Smith, New England Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia, Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and Arizona Cardinals offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin also have been reported as being candidates.
SHORT AND SUCCINCT
With the Jaguars' coaching staff's future uncertain, and with the team already in the process of interviewing candidates and requesting interviews, Caldwell addressed the team in the final meeting of the 2016 season. The meeting was brief – about three minutes. "He was just saying, 'The next coach we get … don't give him a reason, don't get in trouble, things like that,''' Hurns said. "There is going to be change as far as the coaches coming in and the mentality of, 'We've got to win.' That's pretty much understandable. The main thing he said was, 'Don't give a reason for the coach not to be here.' "
Offensive tackle/guard Luke Joeckel (No. 2 overall), safety Johnathan Cyprien (second round) and running back Denard Robinson (fifth round) were the lone members of the Jaguars' 2013 draft class to finish the 2016 season on the roster. All are scheduled to become free agents at the start of the new league year March 9. Robinson played as a reserve this season, with Cyprien starting 16 games. Joeckel's situation is the trickiest because he missed the last 12 games after knee surgery. Joeckel said he realizes that could put him in a free-agent situation similar to that faced by Jaguars left tackle Kelvin Beachum last offseason; Beachum signed a one-year deal with the team having an option to retain him. Joeckel, who started at left tackle in 2014 and 2015 before playing guard this season after Beachum's signing, said Monday he was ahead of schedule in his rehabilitation and did not rule out a return to Jacksonville. "Who knows what the cards will play, but I've got to come back healthy," Joeckel said, adding "I love Jacksonville. Jacksonville has been home for the last four years. … We'll see what happens. I can't really focus on where I'll be next year. All I can focus on is getting better and rehabbing." Joeckel said while he still prefers to play left tackle, he will do "whatever I need to do to help the team. That's how football is."
Myles Jack described his rookie season as a "new experience." The Jaguars' second-round selection in the 2016 NFL Draft, Jack was projected as a potential Top 5 selection before a knee issue hurt his draft stock. He started 10 games as a rookie at the team's strong-side linebacker position, splitting repetitions with veteran Dan Skuta. "Overall, it was a learning experience – it's something I have to take and grow from and use it as motivation," Jack said. "It's the NFL. This league really doesn't owe you anything." Jack worked during training camp backing up middle linebacker Paul Posluszny, who started 16 games and had perhaps his best season in six Jaguars seasons. "I understood that I had a 10-year Pro Bowl vet in front of me," Jack said. "He's a baller. This is his defense. Thank God he didn't get injured and I didn't have to step in. I got a chance to sit back and learn, and watch how he operated and how he had control of everybody – how to be a leader, how to be a pro. It was really a good experience for me."
"It was the most frustrating season I've ever had, and I think everybody can say that. What happened this season wasn't what anyone expected. You've just got to use it as motivation and add fuel to the fire for next year. There's not much you can say, but you have to go to work."