JACKSONVILLE – Shad Khan left no doubt Monday:
When it comes the franchise's direction moving forward – and when it comes to finding a new head coach and general manager – the Jaguars' owner will be the one in charge.
"When it comes to who the key decision-maker's going to be, you're looking at it," Khan said.
Khan, speaking on a videoconference with Jacksonville media Monday morning, spoke on multiple topics – including his decision Monday morning to move on from former Head Coach Doug Marrone.
The move left the Jaguars without a head coach and general manager, with David Caldwell having been dismissed from the latter role November 29. The Jaguars finished the 2020 regular-season 1-15, with Khan moving on from Marrone a day after a 28-14 loss to the Indianapolis Colts.
"It was difficult, but really the right thing to do," Khan said of the Marrone decision.
Khan on Monday said there is no timeframe for hiring a general manager and coach, adding that there is a "huge amount of interest" in the positions – "much more so" than when Caldwell and then-Head Coach Gus Bradley were hired in the 2013 offseason.
"Certainly, I'm committed to do a wide search and make sure we have the right people to help us win," Khan said. "We're going to take our time to make sure we've looked far and wide at really a variety of candidates."
Khan also said the franchise is "in a much better position" than was the case this time last offseason in terms of locker-room cohesion and salary-cap space. The Jaguars enter the 2021 offseason with 11 selections in the '21 draft and the most salary-cap space in the NFL.
They also hold the No. 1 selection in the draft for the first time in franchise history.
"A year ago, we did have team disharmony – and we were in salary-cap hell," Khan said. "Certainly, we have a lot of salary-cap availability along with the draft picks."
Khan said the search for the general manager and head coach will "run in parallel" and that the positions ideally will be hired "about the same time," saying he wants both to know the identity of the other person when decisions are made – and that to him, "that is really a critical point." He also said both positions report to him directly, following the organizational structure in place since the December 2019 dismissal of Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin.
"That way you have the transparency and the needs and concerns of both parties without really getting filters or having a chain of command," Khan said. "That's really what necessitates that you hire them about the same time and you have a perfect alignment that you need in a winning organization."
Khan added, "The kind of coaches you want, they want to be able to work very closely to the general manager on the personnel side."
Khan specified he will maintain control of the 53-man roster, as has been the case since Coughlin's dismissal. He said the idea is to have owner, general manager and head coach aligned on key decisions.
"Those are some of the nuances I want to make sure everybody's on board with, because I think it's really, really important here we don't head off in a wrong direction with an imbalance of power – for lack of a better word," he said. "You don't want players going in and out or contracts given until you're aware of that. Striking the balance between delegation and abdication, I think, is an important point.
"I found that having (roster control) necessitates that you're part of that conversation with the GM and the head coach. Being part of that for the immediate future is important to me."
Khan, the Jaguars' owner since January 2012, said while he previously used advisors and search firms in hiring football decision-makers, he now has a "much better sense" for the process. He also said Jaguars President Mark Lamping will be involved in the process.
The Jaguars reportedly have interviewed former NFL general managers such as Rick Smith and Jerry Reese for the GM position, as well as ESPN analyst Louis Riddick. Khan said the team will turn in a request Monday to interview candidates who are with NFL teams, which they could not do during the regular season.
Khan also on Monday addressed reports over the weekend indicating the team has interest in former Florida and Ohio State Head Coach Urban Meyer for the head coaching position.
"I've known Urban over the years through the Big 10, but we have not spoken to anyone about this job – or obviously interviewed them," Khan said. "We just made the decision this morning [regarding Marrone] and I'll leave it at that. …
"We haven't had a job until this morning, so it would be pointless to talk about interviewing, let alone seriously considering someone."
Khan on Monday said he did not regret bringing Caldwell and Marrone back for the 2020 season after records of 5-11 in 2018 and 6-10 in 2019 – and after dismissing Coughlin. "When I sat down with them, after Tom's departure, both of them expressed a desire to demonstrate what they could do working together," Khan said. "Also: We had serious issues with the team (in terms of locker-room morale and salary-cap space). Who better to help clean it up [than people] who were part of that creating the mess? That would include me. It was, 'The three of us really need to join hands.' You want to win, but you want to set the foundation. 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? And who are the veterans who would be better off going someplace else and there would be salary cap and draft picks we could invest in new players?' That was done this season, and some of the capital obviously we have for the future. They (Caldwell and Marrone) played a role, but obviously we're not where we would be where we could sustain or extend them." The Jaguars this past offseason traded veterans such as defensive end Calais Campbell, quarterback Nick Foles, cornerback A.J. Bouye and defensive end Yannick Ngakoue. Two of their 11 '21 draft selections are in the first round with two more in the second.