Jacksonville Jaguars fire coach Doug Marrone

Michael DiRoccoESPN Staff Writer5 Minute Read

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Shad Khan has been hands-off for the first nine years of his ownership of the Jacksonville Jaguars, but it looks like that's going to change going forward.

Khan said Monday that he wants to alter the organizational structure he's been using by having his new general manager and head coach be on equal footing and have them each report to him -- and to have a larger say in the process of building the roster.

"The current environment is the head coaches, the kind of coaches you want, they want to be able to work very closely with the general manager on the personnel side," Khan said shortly after he fired coach Doug Marrone following a 1-15 season. "A key thing how we would be structuring this is that I'm going to have the general manager and the head coach report directly to me. That way, really, you have the transparency and the needs and the concerns of both parties without really getting filtered or having a chain of command.

"... You basically hire them about the same time and really you have a perfect alignment, which you need in a winning organization."

The Jaguars have already interviewed several GM candidates since Khan fired Dave Caldwell on Nov. 29, including ESPN analyst Louis Riddick and former New York Giants GM Jerry Reese. The interviews for head coach will begin this week, and while former Florida and Ohio State coach Urban Meyer's name has been reported as a likely replacement for Marrone, Khan said he has not spoken with Meyer -- or anyone else -- about the job.

Khan has previously relied on advisers and consultants and used a search firm in his previous searches but he said Monday that he, along with team president Mark Lamping, is conducting the search this time. He said he'll have final say in those decisions.

He also said he'll maintain roster control, which he originally gained after firing former executive vice president for football operations Tom Coughlin in December 2019. However, that doesn't mean he'll have final say on the 53-man roster -- he just wants to be a more active participant in the process.

Khan intimated that he had been surprised by some of the moves that Coughlin and Caldwell have made over the past several seasons and didn't like that he wasn't as involved in those decisions as he would have liked.

Khan said he's made sure to stress that to the GM candidates he has already interviewed and will do the same with head-coaching candidates.

"It's not to really whose coming in but it's to really have a rhythm that everybody's aligned on who might be leaving the team and who might be coming in, at least for the immediate future," Khan said. "So those are some of the nuances that I want to make sure that everybody's on board with because I think it's really, really important here that we don't head off in a wrong direction with an imbalance in power for lack of a better word.

"Roster control is you don't want players going in and out or contracts given until you're aware of that. So striking the balance between delegation and abdication I think is an important point, and certainly I found that in the last whatever 15 months having that necessitates the conversation -- you're part of the conversation with the GM and the head coach. So being part of that here for the immediate future I think is important to me."

Khan isn't going to be involved at a Jerry Jones-type level, but he's also not going to just stand by and allow the GM to have final say, which is the way the Jaguars were structured from 2013 to '16. Nor is he willing to repeat the mistake he made with Coughlin by hiring him in January 2017, installing him over Caldwell, and giving him final say on all football matters.

You can't blame Khan for changing the structure, because the way Jacksonville has done it hasn't worked. The Jaguars have had only one winning season since Khan agreed to purchase the team in November 2011 -- a 10-6 record, AFC South title, and appearance in the AFC Championship Game in 2017 -- and have posted double-digit losses in every other season.

The Jaguars just wrapped up the worst season in franchise history -- though the silver lining is that the team has the No. 1 overall pick, which it will almost certainly use on Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence. If so, Lawrence will become the fourth quarterback the team has drafted in the first round, joining Byron Leftwich, Blaine Gabbert and Blake Bortles. Lawrence, though, is regarded as the best quarterback prospect since Andrew Luck in 2012 and possibly the best since Peyton Manning in 1998.

"What's evaded the history of the Jags really has been a franchise QB," Khan said. "What's unique is we have the ability now to make a choice, and it's going to define the franchise moving forward."

Marrone posted a 25-44 record, including the postseason, in four-plus seasons with the Jaguars, which includes a 12-36 mark since winning the AFC South with a 10-6 record in 2017 and making an appearance in the AFC title game. That was the franchise's first division title since 1999 and first playoff appearance since 2007.

Three seasons later, they're one of the league's worst teams. The Jaguars gave up a franchise-record 492 points and, per ESPN Stats & Information, became just the fifth team since the NFL expanded to a 16-game schedule in 1978 to allow at least 20 points in every game. The last team to do it was the 2011 Chicago Bears. Offensively the Jaguars ranked 28th or worse in yards per game, rushing and scoring and ranked 21st in passing, which is largely a product of falling behind big in games and having to abandon the run.

The Jaguars upset Indianapolis in the season opener and then lost a close game to Tennessee in Nashville, where they've struggled to keep games close over the past six seasons, to create some optimism that the team would be competitive and better than many thought.

Miami, Cincinnati and Houston picked up their first victories of the season against the Jaguars. Per Elias Sports Bureau, that makes the Jaguars the first team in NFL history to lose three consecutive games to winless teams (excluding season openers).

Marrone was named the Jaguars' interim head coach on Dec. 18, 2016, after owner Khan fired Gus Bradley, who compiled a 14-48 record in nearly four seasons. Marrone, who had been the Jaguars' assistant head coach/offensive line coach since 2015, became the head coach less than a month later.

Marrone coached the Buffalo Bills in 2013 and 2014, going 15-17 -- including Buffalo's first winning season in 10 years in 2014 (9-7) -- before opting out of his contract after an ownership change. He was hired as the Jaguars' offensive line coach and assistant coach for offense before the 2015 season.

The Jaguars now join the Chargers, Jets, Lions, Falcons and Texans as teams with head-coaching openings.

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