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Khan: Removing tarps "most important thing"


ORLANDO – Shad Khan left no room for doubt:

When it came to removing tarps from EverBank Field, the Jaguars' owner on Tuesday made clear that he didn't think it was just a sort of an important decision.

 "I think it's the most important thing," Khan said Tuesday while meeting with Jacksonville media during the 2018 NFL Annual League Meeting at the Ritz-Carlton Grande Lakes, Orlando. "The look it [the tarps] gives us is not a good look for the city, and not a good look for the Jags."

The Jaguars in January removed the tarps that long have covered about 3,500 upper-deck seats at EverBank Field, doing so for the team's 10-3 AFC Wild Card playoff victory over the Buffalo Bills. The team announced in February that the tarps would be removed for the 2018 season.

Jaguars President Mark Lamping said at the time of the '18 season announcement that removing the tarps had been a goal for Khan since he purchased the team in January 2012.

Khan, speaking to Jacksonville media for the first time since the announcement, on Tuesday discussed the effect of the crowd on the Jaguars' success last season. The team had home sellouts in its last three regular-season home games, winning all three games against Indianapolis, Seattle and Houston.

Khan said he first began noticing the effect of a strong crowd during the team's success the past three seasons in London. The Jaguars have won their last three games at Wembley Stadium in front of sold-out crowds, a streak that included a 44-7 victory over the Baltimore Ravens in October 2017.

Khan said the effect of the sold-out crowd at EverBank Field late last season was a "revelation."

"The Seattle game, I think [Jaguars Executive Vice President of Football Operations] Tom [Coughlin] and [Head Coach] Doug [Marrone] will tell you if we didn't have the crowd cheering us on … they [the crowd] put us over the edge," Khan said. "A key lesson for me is I don't want to go back to where we don't have a homefield advantage. That means no tarps. That means fans cheering the Jags on.

"I think it's a vital, vital competitive advantage."

Khan discussed several other Jaguars-related topics Tuesday, including:

*Coughlin, who was hired as executive vice president of football operations in January 2017. "Leadership, obviously," Khan said when asked about Coughlin's impact. "With that comes a sense of value and a sense of expectation and an ability to deliver results." …

*Marrone, who went 10-6 with an AFC South title and an appearance in the AFC Championship Game in his first season as head coach: "What I love is that he's a no-nonsense kind of a guy. He isn't there because of his charm and charisma. He's there because of his experience and leadership and the football IQ he has." …

*On expectations entering 2018 season: "I've had high expectations for six years. Expectations are the easy part. Delivering, that's the hard part. What's fun going forward is expectations with a high degree of confidence that we're going to deliver." …

*On the possibility of more teal in the team's new uniforms, which are expected to be unveiled soon: "I didn't have to be talked into it, because I had my first stab at the [current] uniforms [which the team has used the past five seasons]. I thought [the current uniforms were] different and edgy – and obviously disliked. When we went through the redo, it was like, 'OK, let's do something different.' Teal obviously resonates with people because of the success we had historically with teal. Last year we were allowed two or three games with teal. He [Coughlin] chose [the color] for the big games, and obviously it worked." …

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