The Jacksonville Jaguars pulled the pulled the plug on the Urban Meyer experiment early Thursday morning. Shad Khan decided to fire Meyer after numerous incidents made the franchise’s poor start to the 2021 season untenable.
Whatever the reason, Jacksonville joins the Las Vegas Raiders in the hunt for a new head coach. This all comes after the NFL unveiled a new rule that allows teams to begin head coach interviews before the regular season ends. Previously, there was a mad dash immediately after the season ended to get interview requests in. Now, teams can submit interview requests starting December 28 and begin interviewing candidates during the final two weeks of the regular season.
There will be a host of candidates for the Jaguars to consider, but an offensive-minded head coach would probably have an early edge. The team invested the No. 1 overall pick this past spring in quarterback Trevor Lawrence. They’re building around him and will want the optimal coaching staff to ensure his success. The team could look at a defensive-minded head coach with a prominent offensive coordinator addition, but it feels like that would overly complicate things.
We’re already starting to see lists of head coaching candidates. It would be a surprise to not see Byron Leftwich, Eric Bieniemy, Josh McDaniels mentioned in connection with the job. They’re at varying levels of experience, but all three should be hot names in this year’s coaching cycle.
McDaniels has head coaching experience and has done strong work with a Patriots led by rookie Mac Jones. His time with the Broncos didn’t end well, but his work with Jones has to shoot him up near the top of the list given what Jacksonville wants to do with Lawrence.
Bieniemy has been Andy Reid’s OC for four years and had four years before that as running backs coach. He’s been Patrick Mahomes’ OC for all four seasons he’s been the Chiefs full-time starter. Mahomes brings considerable talent in his own right, but Bieniemy has done big things in building out a dynamic Chiefs offense.
Leftwich has the least experience of this trio, but brings a cache the other two don’t have. Aside from the great work he has done with the Bucs offense the past two seasons, he was the Jaguars first round pick in 2003. That’s not the best reason to hire him, but it adds a little more value and could serve as a heck of a tiebreaker.
There will be other candidates of note, and probably at least one or two wild cards that slip into the mix. We’ll keep an eye out as more names show up on the radar over the next two weeks because it’s going to get hectic.