Jack Del Rio's search for an offensive coordinator was more intense than the Jaguars coach first anticipated, but he knew he had his guy after a few conversations with USC quarterbacks coach Carl Smith.
"It's a good fit for what I'm looking for," Del Rio told jaguars.com this afternoon. Del Rio is in Mobile, Ala., to observe Senior Bowl practices.
Del Rio began searching the roles of available offensive coordinator candidates three weeks ago, after Bill Musgrave was relieved of his duties. Del Rio wanted a man who:
• Had experience as an NFL offensive coordinator and had worked extensively with quarterbacks.
• Believes in the principles of a strong running game and a vertical passing game.
• Would be content with his new position and wouldn't use it as a stepping stone to a head job.
Going back through the list of NFL offensive coordinators over the past five years, Del Rio came across Steelers wide receivers coach Bruce Arians. Steelers head coach Bill Cowher, however, expressed a desire to keep his staff intact, which meant Del Rio wasn't likely to receive permission to interview Arians for the job.
Del Rio went back five more years, and that's where he found Smith, who was the offensive coordinator for the New Orleans Saints under Jim Mora from 1986-96. Del Rio, of course, played for Mora in New Orleans and was familiar with Smith.
At first, Del Rio phoned Smith for the purpose of seeking the latter's advice on candidates. At some point in their conversations, however, Del Rio asked Smith if he would be interested in the job. When Smith replied affirmatively, he became the leading candidate. He is one of only two men who were formally interviewed for the job. The other is Mike McCarthy, who was the Saints' offensive coordinator this past season.
With 32 years of coaching in his background, Smith isn't likely to spend his time padding offensive stats for the purpose of promoting himself for a head job. He's not a headline name to be confused with Scott Linehan, who was the hottest name of all the offensive coordinator candidates. Linehan joined Nick Saban's staff in Miami last week.
"We want to protect the quarterback, we want to protect the football, we want to score points," Del Rio said of his and Smith's joint offensive philosophy. "We want to attack, be aggressive, but we want to do those other things, too."
Del Rio wouldn't go into detail about changes Smith might make with the Jaguars' scheme and personnel, but he added: "We're going to take a good, hard look this offseason at how we can utilize the people we have."
Smith, 56, coached Heisman trophy winner Matt Leinart last season. Smith has coached 12 years at the collegiate level, three in the USFL and 17 in the NFL.
His professional coaching career began as an assistant coach under Mora with the Philadelphia/Baltimore Stars of the USFL from 1983-85. In the NFL, Smith has coached for the Saints, the New England Patriots (1997-99) and the Cleveland Browns (2001-03).
Smith graduated with a bachelor's degree in physical education in 1971 and received his master's degree from Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo in physical education in 1972. He lettered in football as a defensive back from 1969-70 after transferring from Bakersfield College. He and his wife Dianne have three sons: Tracy, Tyler and Nicholas.
In other news on Tuesday, the Jaguars signed defensive back Ray Perryman and offensive tackle Sammy Williams to contracts. Perryman, 26, was originally signed by the Jaguars on Oct. 30, 2003, and spent four weeks on the practice squad before seeing action in the final four games of the season. The 5-11, 195-pound safety played in four games in 2004 before being waived on Oct. 13.
Williams, 30, is a seven-year veteran who has played in 30 career games with 14 starts. He was originally signed by the Jaguars on June 20, 2003, and spent the entire season on the active roster. He was waived by Jacksonville after the 2004 preseason. The 6-5, 310-pound offensive lineman has played with San Diego, Baltimore and Kansas City.