JACKSONVILLE – The Jaguars have been less than elite at quarterback for a while.
A long, long while.
Shad Khan's hope is that that's about to change in a big way, something the Jaguars' owner made clear Monday when discussing the organization's future.
"What has evaded the history of the Jags, really, has been a franchise quarterback," Khan said late Monday morning, hours after the end of the 2020 regular season. "What's unique, certainly, is we have the ability to make a choice – and it's going to define the franchise moving forward."
That choice will come in late April, with the Jaguars holding the No. 1 selection in the 2021 NFL Draft after finishing '20 with an NFL-worst 1-15 record.
The Jaguars enter the offseason searching for football leadership, with David Caldwell dismissed as general manager in late November and Khan announcing Monday Doug Marrone no longer will be the head coach. Khan said no timetable has been set for replacements, but quarterback was a major topic during his 25-minute videoconference with media Monday.
Khan said he spent two hours discussing the subject with Marrone following a Week 16 loss to the Chicago Bears in Jacksonville.
"It's very clear that obviously that's been something sorely missing – how we would develop them and what is the criteria on that," Khan said.
Speculation long has been that Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence would be the No. 1 overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft. Khan didn't mention Lawrence during Monday's availability, but he said developing a quarterback will be a major factor in the search for a head coach.
"Developing a young quarterback, we've been very unsuccessful at that," he said. "The last eight years, we haven't had a franchise quarterback. I think that is very important."
Khan also the addition of a front-line quarterback will affect the organization's mindset moving forward.
"I think we have a great group of young players," Khan said. "Obviously, we're going to have a lead franchise quarterback so you can't have a mindset, 'Well, this is a rebuild; it's going to take time.' 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."
Khan said he has no set criteria for experience or background for a head coach. "If you look at some of the successful head coaches in the NFL, four years ago you probably had not heard of them," he said. "I think there's a lot of talent out there and frankly we want to look at all of that. If they're assistants, proven head coaches – all of that we would be looking at." He also discussed his approach to hiring minorities for the positions, saying: "I want to get the best person for the job. Diversity is very important to me for many, many different reasons. We're going to look far and wide, but what's most important at this inflection point for the franchise is that we have the best leaders. It's a consideration to get the best person and then how do we move the needle on diversity. There are many ways of doing that. It could be assistants. It could be other things we could do. Diversity is a major, significant issue for the NFL. But if you hire not the best person just because of color, you're not helping the franchise or the diversity. … That whole nuance is very, very important to me, and I think it has to play in. But it doesn't mean that it absolutely has to be a person of color who's going to be the top person."
Khan said the Jaguars' assistant coaches remain under contract entering the offseason. "We have some good coaches here, and I want the head coach – whoever that might be – to be able to look at that and retain some of them," Khan said. "But that would the head coach's decision."
Khan opened his availability Monday thanking all who allowed the Jaguars to navigate COVID-19 through the 2020 season – medical personnel, trainers, players and coaches – and thanked fans for turning out throughout the season. He also thanked Marrone, saying: "I'm grateful for what Doug did, serving the city with grace. He cared a lot about the Jaguars and the people here in Jacksonville. It was difficult, but really the right thing to do. I wish Doug, Helen and his family well. I'm sure he's going to enjoy success in his next stop."