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Transcript - Jaguars Owner Shad Khan: Monday, January 4, 2021

(Opening statement) "Good morning, everyone. I think before we begin, I want to acknowledge and really thank everyone who has helped the Jaguars navigate the COVID-19 virus and kept our team healthy. Our medical group, athletic trainers as well as the players and the coaches, all did an exceptional job of creating, protecting each other, from the first day of training all the way through yesterday's game. I also want to salute our front office and City of Jacksonville for producing a safe and enjoyable experience for all the home games throughout the season. We were one of the very few teams in the NFL that had fans in attendance for all of our home games and obviously, that's a great credit to the City of Jacksonville and the Jaguars staff. Thank you very much for all you did. And finally, and most importantly, I do want to commend and applaud everyone who loves the Jaguars and who supported us throughout this year. The turnout was fantastic and no matter what, our fans stuck with us and it was amazing to see everyone. So, thank you. 

I think as you know, we are making a change with our head coach. I spoke to Doug [Marrone] this morning and I'm grateful for what Doug did, serving the city with grace, and he cared a lot about the Jaguars and the people here in Jacksonville. And really, I think it was difficult, but really the right thing to do. I wish Doug, Helen and his family well and I'm sure that he's going to enjoy success in his next job. So now, we'll continue our search for our new general manager and it'll also be time for us to find a head coach for the Jaguars. So, thanks again for joining me and I'm happy now to take your questions."

(On how critical it is to make the right decisions in filling the two positions) "Well, I think— you know, Mark—I mean, yes, this is our second search for general manager in the nine years I've been there and Doug was with us for 4 years as head coach. So I think we've worked with them, we've been patient, given them all the resources. But certainly, I'm committed to do a wide search and make sure we have the right people to help us win."

(On whether these are the best two jobs available in the NFL right now) "Well, I certainly think there's a huge amount of interest in this, much more so than the last time around. And I also look at really—we're in a much different, and I would say a better position today than we were a year ago. A little over a year ago, as you well know—and I think you reported—we did have team disharmony and we were—for lack of a better word—salary cap hell. I think today, I frankly thought that we would do better. We won six games last year [2019], but you know, certainly we have a lot of salary cap availability along with the draft picks and obviously the number one pick. But what's evaded the history of the Jags, really, has been a franchise quarterback. And I think what's unique, certainly, is that we have the ability now to make a choice and it's going to define the franchise moving forward."

(On what he's learned over the years in terms of what he might be looking for in these two open positions) "Well, I think obviously you want the harmony and the mission, the goal that we're here to win. I think for me, somebody—a proven leader who understands not only the basics of football, the blocking and tackling, but more importantly the modern football. Some of the things, the new football—but more importantly, handling the 21st century athlete at the same time. So, the old and the new, I think, are absolutely vital. And then being able to attract really the right staff, I think that is a key element. You're only as good as the people you surround yourself with. So who they can attract and really the approach is going to be very, very important for us."

(On whether he'll hire a head coach first, before a general manager) "Well, I'll tell you, I think ideally, you want to hire them about the same time. What I learned, and I think it's really true, it doesn't get quite the visibility, but the current environment is, the head coaches, the kind of coaches you want, they want to be able to work very closely with the general manager on the personnel side. The key thing, how we would be structuring this is that I'm going to have the general manager and the head coach report directly to me. And that way, really, you have the transparency and the needs and concerns of both parties without really getting filtered or have a chain of command. And that's really what necessitates that you basically hire them about the same time and really you have a perfect alignment, which you need in a winning organization."

(On the timing of when he plans to hire and what he's looking for in the general manager position) "Well first of all, on timing, I think this is something that we're not doing that often, so we're going to take our time to make sure we've looked far and wide and really at a whole variety of candidates. So I really can't give you the timing, unless when it's right, obviously, we'll be sharing it with you. Now, on the general manager search, I mean, we've interviewed people who were available. But there are a number of them who are unavailable due to the league rules, and today we'll be turning in our request to be able to interview some of those. So really, this process is going to be running in parallel and certainly, we'll keep you [updated] whenever we have something worthwhile." 

(On who is involved in helping you make these hiring decisions) "Well, I've gone through the rite of passage as a new owner coming into the league. The advisors, consultants, whatever, we did that. This time around, I think I have a much better sense myself. So I am the key decision-maker, but we do have people at the Jaguars. Mark Lamping would be one who will be working with these people, so they will be involved from that viewpoint. But when it comes to who the key decision maker is going to be, I mean, you're looking at him."

(On what specific qualifications he's looking for in a new head coach, whether he'll be looking at anyone in the collegiate level and whether he can address the Urban Meyer rumors) "Well, I think all of that. If you look at some of the successful head coaches in the NFL, four years ago you probably had not heard of them. So I think there's a lot of talent out there, and frankly we want to look at all of that. So, I mean, if there are assistants, proven head coaches, all of that, we'll be looking at. And on the rumor of Urban Meyer, obviously, I've known Urban over the years through Big Ten and what have you. But we have not spoken to anyone about this job or even, obviously, interviewed him. I mean, this is something—just made the decision this morning. So, you know there is—and I'll leave it at that."

(On if he had conversations with any candidates about the head coaching position before last weekend) "I think no. I sat with Doug [Marrone] for two hours after the Bears game to really [talk]. One of the things or concerns I had [was that] we've had six starting quarterbacks over the last three years. It's very clear that obviously that's been something sorely missing, how we would develop them, and what is the criteria on that. We haven't had a job until this morning, an opening, so it would be pointless to talk about interviewing, let alone seriously considering someone."

(On if he saw Doug Marrone as the head coach for the future after the Bears game) "No, I mean I was looking to really what is the right thing for the Jaguars moving forward."

(On the importance of finding candidates who emphasize team culture) "I think team culture is about winning. If you look at it, it's ancient history but three years ago we were in the [AFC] Championship game. That really is a key lesson. It's about culture, which is about sustaining winning. It's a little bit different than managing losing. So that is obviously an aspect of that. You want to be able to win but then you want to be able to sustain that moving forward."

(On if he regrets bringing former Head Coach Doug Marrone and former General Manager Dave Caldwell back for the 2020 season) "Not at all. No, I don't, and I'll tell you why. When I sat down with them after [former Jaguars Executive Vice President of Football Operations] Tom [Coughlin]'s departure, both of them expressed a desire that they want to be able to demonstrate what they can do working together. Also, as I mentioned earlier, we had serious issues with the team, so who better to help clean it up [than] who were part of that, really creating the mess. That would include me. So it was the three of us really need to join hands. You want to win but you want to set the foundation, and that was how do we help the players who don't want to be there exit, and exit with the right value for the Jaguars? Then who are the players, maybe veterans, how do we identify them who'd be better off going someplace else and it would bring salary cap and draft picks we could invest in new players. That was done earlier, or last year, this season and then some of the capital obviously we have for the future. They played a role but we're not where we would be where we could sustain or extend them."

(On the timeline of hiring a head coach and general manager) "I think you have to have a sense. Both of them have to know who's going to be the other person. To me, that is really a critical point. I think I can also share with you that last season, especially after Tom [Coughlin]'s departure, he had the roster control, so I kept the roster control. The candidates, the general manager candidates, I've been talking to them, [I told them that] for the immediate future I'm going to keep the roster control. I want the coach to know that also. It's not really [about] who's coming in, but it's to really have a rhythm that everybody's aligned on who might be leaving the team and who might be coming in, at least for the immediate future. Those are some of nuances that I want to make sure that everybody's on board with because I think it's really important here that we don't head off in a wrong direction with an imbalance in power, for lack of a better word. So I hope that kind of explains some of the logic."

(On hiring a person of color) "I want to get the best person for the job. I think diversity is very important to me for many, many different reasons. I think we're going to look far and wide, but I think what's most important is this inflection point for the franchise we have the best leaders, I say general manager as well as the head coach."

(On if diversity is a priority or consideration for the positions) "I think it's a consideration to really get the best person and then how do we move the needle on diversity? There are many, many different ways of doing that. It could be assistants. It could be other things that we can do to really [have diversity]. Diversity is a major significant issue I think for the NFL, but [if] you hire not the best person just because of color, you're not helping the franchise or the diversity. I've gone through this diversity issue in the auto parts space for 40-some years and you don't want to set up a person of color to fail. You don't want to set them up to fail, you want to set them up to succeed. That whole nuance I think is very, very important to me and I think it has to play in, but [it] doesn't mean that absolutely it has to be a person of color who's going to be the top person."

(On his management approach going forward and having roster control) "The roster control is [because] you don't want players going in and out or contracts given until you're aware of that. So striking the balance between delegation and abdication, I think, is an important point. Certainly, I found that in the last 15 months, having that necessitates a conversation, you're part of the conversation with the GM and the head coach. So being part of that here for the immediate future I think is important to me."

(On his decisions being based on short-term success or a long-term rebuild) "If you look at it, I think you want to have both. Four years ago, when we did the search [for a head coach], the mindset really was with the head coaches I interviewed was we need a rebuild, we need extra time, we need this, we need that. We'd won three games, my mindset was we have talent here, what would you do, etc., etc.? The most success we've had came right after that. I think we have a great group of young players. Obviously we're going to have a lead franchise quarterback. You can't have a mindset [of] this is a rebuild and it's going to take time, etc. We have to have a mindset [that] we're building for the long haul, but you have to be able to win at the same time."

(On the future of the rest of the coaching staff and the importance of finding a coach who has a history of working with young quarterbacks) "I think obviously developing a young quarterback, we've been very unsuccessful at that. [The] last eight years, we haven't had a franchise quarterback, so I think that is very, very important. The assistant coaches, the ones that are under contract, we're going to keep them. We have some good coaches here. I want the head coach, whoever that might be, to be able to look at that and retain some of them, but that would be obviously the head coach's decision."

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