SOTF: Khan “very, very optimistic”

JACKSONVILLE – Shad Khan likes what he sees.

No, the Jaguars’ owner didn’t like a 2018 season that began with high hopes and ended with a 5-11 record and last-place AFC South finish, but Khan on Thursday focused on the future.

And to Khan, that looks bright.

“We have to look forward,” Khan said Thursday during the 2019 State of the Franchise event at TIAA Bank Field. “You learn from the past and look forward with optimism. Certainly, I think all of our weaknesses have been addressed. I’m very, very optimistic.”

Jaguars Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin early in his podium remarks emphasized Khan’s full commitment to winning, noting the team’s offseason free-agent signing of quarterback Nick Foles to the largest guaranteed contract in the franchise’s 25-year history.

Khan – who spent much of the 2019 SOTF discussing off-field initiatives – largely deferred to Coughlin and General Manager David Caldwell when asked about roster specifics. He added that all involved agreed that upgrading quarterback this offseason was necessary.

“We got Nick Foles, and it is very, very encouraging the way we are heading,” Khan said.

Khan said Coughlin “pretty much” set acquiring Foles as a priority immediately after the season – and said that was the tone of the organization leading into free agency.

“This isn’t impulsive or impetuous … I think there was a quite a bit of talk put into it,” Khan said. “This was: ‘Yes, we wanted to do whatever to get Nick here.’ … I can tell you this, categorically, that as soon as the season was over, our dream was to get Nick Foles for all the different reasons that have been elaborated before, and it happened. I think that’s a critical part that we have addressed.”

Khan announced late in the 2018 season that Caldwell, Coughlin and Head Coach Doug Marrone all would return for a third season as the Jaguars’ key decision-makers. He made that announcement in a statement and had not spoken to the Jacksonville media since.

On Thursday, he was asked goals for the 2019 season. He answered succinctly.

“We want to be competitive, and we want to be in the postseason,” he said. “I think that was the goal last year; obviously we didn’t do it. The year before, we kind of overachieved in a good way [en route to an AFC South title and an appearance in the AFC Championship Game]. You have to move in the direction of winning. We have a great foundation, great people, but results on the field is what speaks. …

“We have to get better and be competitive. We want to be in the postseason. I think that is the goal of all 32 teams. We want to be one of those that makes it.”

Khan on Thursday also expressed confidence in Coughlin, who served as the Jaguars’ head coach from their inaugural 1995 season to 2002 and who returned in his current position in 2017 after 12 seasons as the head coach of the New York Giants.

“Tom Coughlin has a history,” Khan said. “Obviously, he started the franchise here. You have to have the emotion and drive to be connected, believe in the mission. He absolutely believes. He has the experience, history and results. In my humble opinion – heck, I don’t know anybody better.”

Also on Thursday:

*Khan said he remains committed to playing an annual home game in London, something the Jaguars have done every year since 2013. They will play the Houston Texans at Wembley Stadium in London November 3, with their current London agreement running through 2020. “We are absolutely committed to it,” Khan said. “All the stats, everything we have had … What it has done with playing in London, stabilizing the Jaguars here in Jacksonville. Absolutely. I think if it makes sense here … We evaluate every year and what the local market is and what makes sense for the franchise.” Khan and other Jaguars officials long have said that a home game in London is critical to the team’s local-revenue equation. …

*Khan during his opening podium remarks emphasized the Jaguars’ commitment to Jacksonville, saying: “Twenty-five years from now we’re still going to be here, bigger and better.” He later discussed his reasoning for saying that on the podium. “This is a watermark – 25 years,” Khan said, referring to the team’s upcoming 25th season as a franchise. “You have to reflect on it. I think people really didn’t believe the Jaguars would be here. When I got here almost seven years ago, it was, ‘Where are they moving?’ I think one of the first things I said was that we were going to do everything to stabilize. We never really thought about that, frankly.” …

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