Tag:Gene Smith
Posted on: November 29, 2011 11:07 am
Edited on: December 29, 2011 5:30 pm
 

Potential Jack Del Rio replacements + expert chat



Posted by Will Brinson and Ryan Wilson

The early list of candidates to replace Jack Del Rio is long and varied. (US PRESSWIRE)

Jack Del Rio's out in Jacksonville and that means it's time for everyone's favorite rollercoaster ride: the coaching carousel! JDR's been replaced by defensive coordinator Mel Tucker for the rest of 2011, and Jacksonville represents an interesting situation because most folks believe they're not capable of landing a "big-name coach."

However, all the usuals are on our list, as well as some names you might want to keep an eye on. If you think we missed someone who's a viable candidate, leave them in the comments or tell us on our new Facebook page.

Jack Del Rio Fired

Mel Tucker, DC, Jaguars

Tucker's the interim coach for the Jaguars after serving as defensive coordinator for Jacksonville for the past three years, and that gives him a leg up on everyone else in Jacksonville's coaching search. Tucker's teams haven't been top flight the entire time he's been in J-Vegas, but the Jaguars 2011 defense is one of the best in the NFL, ranking fifth in points allowed and fourth in yards allowed in the league. That's even more impressive considering how terrible the Jaguars offense has been. A strong close to the season could vault Tucker to the top of Gene Smith's list.


Dirk Koetter, OC, Jaguars

Koetter didn't get the interim coach label (it went to Tucker instead) for Jacksonville, which doesn't bode well for his future with the club. But he's got head coaching experience at the college level, running Boise State from 1998-2000 and Arizona State 2001-2006. Of course, the downside of Koetter is that he's been running the Jaguars offense since 2007 and, with the exception of 2008, it's been a below-average unit since he's gotten there. If Koetter can get Blaine Gabbert and the offense to show some life over the final five games, he'll be a strong candidate, if Tucker doesn't beat him out.

Jay Gruden, OC, Bengals

Even though Gruden's in just his first year as an NFL coach, he's already become a hot name as a possibility for future head-coaching jobs. His work with a Bengals offense that features two rookies -- Andy Dalton and A.J. Green -- as the centerpieces can't be ignored, and Cincy's success 11 games into the year vastly outweighs the fact that Gruden spent the previous decade or so years coaching in the UFL.

Rob Ryan, DC, Cowboys

Though Ryan has drawn a lot of attention for his mouth in Dallas, he's also drawn a lot of attention for the success of his defense. His brother is succeeding as a head coach in New York, obviously, and it's believed to be only a matter of time until Rob gets a chance. Don't sleep on him being the only coach who might actually increase ticket sales, too. The biggest question might be whether the Jaguars prefer an offensive guy heading up the team.

Rob Chudzinksi, OC, Panthers

"Chud" took his first coordinator gig this season when he followed Ron Rivera from San Diego to Carolina to serve as offensive coordinator of the Panthers. And he's drawn plenty of attention with the work he and his staff have done with Cam Newton, one of the most prolific rookie quarterbacks in NFL history. If the Jaguars believed Chudzinski could have the same effect on Gabbert as he did Cam in 2011, they'll certainly be interested in at least adding him to the short (?) list of potential candidates.

Jeff Fisher, former Titans head coach

Until he was fired last season by the Titans, Fisher was the NFL's longest tenured coach having been on the sidelines in Tennessee (and before they moved, Houston) for 17 years. He's well respected by his players and clearly capable of building a winner over the long haul. His background is as a defensive coach, but the Titans' offense had little trouble matriculating the ball down the field with the right personnel (see Eddie George and Steve McNair, for example). Xs and Os are important, but more important is motivating a team in dire need of direction.

Bill Cowher, CBS Sports NFL analyst, former Steelers head coach

The former Steelers coach said earlier this season that he had no plans on coaching in 2012, but like most things, plans can change depending on the circumstances. In this case, we're guessing Cowher would need 10 million or so circumstances to nudge him back onto the sidelines. Jacksonville isn't as glamorous as, say, Miami or New York, cities with other possible job openings at the end of the year, but presumably Cowher will be motivated by more than the local Zagat's guide. The Jags have played like an uninspired bunch in 2011 and while Cowher may not possess the tactical acumen of, say, Bill Belichick, he is, above all else, inspirational. Plus, there's a good chance Cowher will bring some of the Steelers front office with him wherever he ends up, which means built-in roster depth and salary-cap savvy.

Brian Billick, FOX Sports NFL analyst, former Ravens head coach

Billick got his job with the Ravens because he was hailed as something of an offensive mastermind during his OC-ing days with the Vikings (not hurting that perception: Cris Carter, Randy Moss and Randall Cunningham). He's not much into developing quarterbacks he was also responsible for drafting, but Gabbert's already there. Maybe he'd have better success if he wasn't actually burdened with selecting the player, too. Either way, Billick was a winner in Baltimore even if it wasn't always pretty. He's been out of coaching since 2008 but it's only a matter of time before he gets another chance.

Brian Schottenheimer, Jets OC

The list of hot young coordinators isn't as long as it once was. Crash-and-burns from the likes of Eric Mangini and Josh McDaniels tempered some of the "let's go young!" enthusiasm temporarily favored by owners and front-office types. But Schottenheimer, despite the annual criticism, is considered an up-and-comer with the Jets. That offense, with Mark Sanchez under center, is far from high-powered, instead built around the run. They've had success with that philosophy, twice making it to the AFC Championship game, but the "ground and pound" approach relies on a stout defense. The Jags have the makings of that, although it's not clear Schottenheimer would be able to get the most out of Gabbert or Jacksonville's offense.

Russ Grimm, Cardinals associated head coach

Just over four years ago, Grimm was in line to replace Cowher in Pittsburgh and widely considered head-coaching material. He lost out to Mike Tomlin for the Steelers gig and has been the associate head coach in Arizona ever since. He was an offensive lineman during his playing career and he would bring a certain toughness the Jags have lost this season. He's not a top candidate but there's no guarantee the Jags will be able to land their No. 1 choice.

Wild Card: Tom Coughlin, Giants head coach

Apparently, Coughlin's on the hot seat in New York, although that seems silly given that the Giants have been besieged with injuries and bad luck. It's not like he's lost the team, but should he get canned, Coughlin could be worth a long look to return to the place where it all started for Jacksonville. He was the franchise's first coach, from 1995-2002, and he led them to two AFC Championship appearances, and in 1999, a 14-2 record.

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Posted on: November 29, 2011 11:06 am
Edited on: November 29, 2011 11:58 pm
 

Jaguars sold to Shahid Khan, staying in Jax

Posted by Will Brinson

It's just another run-of-the-mill NFL news day in Jacksonville, Florida on Tuesday. First, Jack Del Rio was fired this morning, and now CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman is reporting that the Jaguars franchise are being recently sold (employees were informed on Tuesday morning) to auto-parts mogul Shahid Kahn ... but the team will reportedly remain in Jacksonville.

Oh, and Jags general manager Gene Smith received a three-year extension. So, yeah, nothing much going on in north Florida today.

Obviously the JDR news broke this morning, but before we could even put together a list of coaches who might replace Del Rio, word started swirling that the Jags were being sold.

Kahn, a Pakistani businessman and owner of Flex-N-Gate, will buy the Jaguars after an unsuccessful attempt to purchase the Rams in 2010 when minority shareholder Stan Kroenke exercised his right to match Kahn's bid for the team.

Previously, the Jags have been considered one of the top candidates for relocation to Los Angeles if/when an NFL stadium is ready to be filled, but Freeman reports that Weaver received written assurances from Kahn that he would keep the team in Jacksonville. Weaver wouldn't confirm those assurances in his press conference however and Kahn did not address them in his statement.

Jack Del Rio Fired

"I am honored to have recently signed an agreement with Wayne Weaver and his partners to purchase the Jacksonville Jaguars,” Khan said. “I have known Wayne for some time and have long admired his spirit, which nearly 20 years ago – against all odds – helped make the Jaguars and the National Football League a reality for Jacksonville and North Florida. Wayne’s legacy will be lasting, and I will always be grateful for Wayne’s trust and confidence in my commitment to the Jaguars, the NFL and the people of the Jacksonville community."

Shortly after chatter about the sale exploded, word broke that Smith received his extension this morning, and if you think about it, the timing of the whole shebang kind of makes sense.

Del Rio was canned by the regime (Weaver) that hired him, ensuring that the new owner's first act won't be to fire a head coach. Then the news leaks that the team's been sold and the employees have been informed. Whether or not the team will move is irrelevant for the moment, because it's important that the Jaguars maintain a semblance of stability to employees and fans.

The report that states the team will remain in Jacksonville does just that. And, finally, speaking of stability, Smith's presence over the next three years provides stability to an organization that will be looking for a head coach and determining whether or not Blaine Gabbert is the future of the franchise at quarterback.

And yes, since Smith drafted Gabbert in the 2011 NFL Draft, it's a safe bet he stays on as the franchise quarterback. Whether fans like him or not, that news probably comes as a little bit of relief, if only because it means there's some stability in Jacksonville on this hectic day.

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Posted on: September 21, 2011 9:33 am
Edited on: September 21, 2011 9:39 am
 

Starting Blaine Gabbert the right move for Jags

Posted by Will Brinson

Wednesday, Jack Del Rio finally came to the realization that everyone else had before the 2011 season began: his needs to start Blaine Gabbert this season.

Del Rio should have made this move as soon as he made the decision to cut David Garrard a week before the season began.

Really, the only acceptable excuse for not starting Gabbert is if Del Rio believed that Luke McCown could be a starting quarterback for a team in the playoff hunt.

It seemed like a bad idea at the time, and it didn't seem brilliant even after a Week 1 win. It seemed like a worse idea two interceptions in to his debacle against the Jets and by the time he finally brought Gabbert in, it was patently obvious that McCown and his 1.8 quarterback rating weren't dragging this team to a division title.

Gabbert might not either. He is, after all, a rookie. But Gabbert offers the most upside. We knew what Garrard could do on the field. It wasn't that impressive, the now-looking-like-a fluke 2007 season aside. And we've certainly seen McCown's limitations on full display for Jacksonville. He's a decent backup quarterback and could be the right starter in the right situation. Like say, if he were given a full offseason to prepare with the 2000 Baltimore Ravens.

Gabbert's more of an unknown quantity right now, but is that necessarily bad? I don't think so -- we know enough about Gabbert that he's the best option for the Jags right now.  We know that it looks like he can at least compete right now. We know that he's got talent. We know he has more upside than Garrard and McCown. And we know that the Jaguars paid a pretty hefty price to make him the franchise's quarterback of the future.

It's probably not helping Del Rio that right now there are two rookies -- Cam Newton and Andy Dalton -- who've managed to get their respective teams off to starts that are, arguably, better than Jacksonville's.

Gene Smith has to be wondering if Gabbert can do the same. Del Rio should be wondering if Gabbert performing well can help extend the life of his contract another season in Jacksonville.

We'll get the answers to these questions soon enough. The biggest mystery to me is what took so long?

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Posted on: September 6, 2011 10:44 pm
Edited on: September 6, 2011 10:50 pm
 

David Garrard's agent: QB has 'gotten some calls'

Posted by Will Brinson

David Garrard was stunningly released on Tuesday afternoon by the Jaguars, and, this might not come as "news," but he was as surprised as everyone else.

According to his agent, Al Irby, he was "shocked" even, because they believed Garrard was starting Week 1 for Jacksonville.

"Been assured that the job was his this year," said Al Irby, Garrard's agent, said, per Tania Ganguli of The Florida Times-Union. "That's why we're all shocked, and so was he. This had to be a last minute decision, that's the only thing I can say. I don't think these guys would purposely tell me one thing and [do another]."

Perhaps the most logical reason for waiting so long to release Garrard? The Colts situation at quarterback -- though it stinks to wait so long for Garrard to get on the open market for his own personal reasons, he might have been a nice fit for the Jags division rival Indy.

The 2011 Jaguars
But given that the NFL is a quarterbacks league that doesn't feature all that many good quarterbacks, it stands to reason he'll find work somewhere. Which is why it makes sense that, also according to Irby, he's "gotten some calls."

"The system's going to do what it's going to do," Irby said. "He has gotten some calls, they know there's some interest. David can still play it's obvious. He knows he's gonna have options and he's gonna just sit back and let the offers come in and make a decision."

There are still plenty of teams that need quarterback. The 49ers brought in Josh McCown due to their concern with Alex Smith as a starter, and wouldn't that be a potentially ironic landing spot given that Luke McCown took over as the starter for Garrard?

The Panthers are rolling with Derek Anderson as their backup, and the Carolina quarterbacks coach Mike Shula had some serious success with Garrard when he coached in Jacksonville from 2007-10. Seattle's quarterbacks coach, Carl Smith, was Garrard's offensive coordinator in Jacksonville for two years, from 2005-06.

The Ravens (Tyrod Taylor) and Raiders (Kyle Boller) could both use a capable backup. Tennessee might be interested at the right price to help protect the need to shove Jake Locker into a starting role if Matt Hasselbeck gets hurt.

So it's not surprising to hear that teams are inquiring about Garrard's availability. The only question is whether it's too close to the start of the season for another team to really make the investment in Garrard worth the cost.

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Posted on: August 25, 2011 3:47 pm
 

Hot Routes 8.24.11: Vince Young vs. Mike Kafka



Posted by Josh Katzowitz

  • A couple days late on this story, but I really enjoyed this column by Yahoo Sports’ Michael Silver on Patriots ownere Robert Kraft and how he’s dealing with his wife’s death. Great stuff in here. One poignant quote from Kraft on CBA negotiations while his wife was dying: “There were plenty of moments where I thought, ‘Why am I here?’” Kraft says. “I’m thinking of my sweetheart, and I wanted to be with her every minute. Really, the only time I wasn’t with her was at these meetings, and when we’d get off in minutiae or [talking about] things I thought were irrelevant -- they might not have been, but to me they were -- I was thinking, ‘What am I doing here?’ Maybe I shouldn’t say that, but I was.”
  • And we’ll go ahead and hit you with another Silver story. This one is on the league’s discipline policy for those who got in trouble during the lockout.
  • Another player has gone down with a torn Achilles tendon injury and will miss the season. This time it’s Chiefs linebacker Brandon Siler, who hurt himself on the last play of Tuesday’s practice. He’s the 11th player to be lost for the season with this kind of injury.
  • The Chiefs have signed TE Anthony Becht to a one-year deal. The 34-year-old was out of the league last season.

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Posted on: August 23, 2011 8:55 pm
 

Del Rio says David Garrard is his starting QB

J. Del Rio watches D. Garrard, his starter (Getty).Posted by Josh Katzowitz

In Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio's head, there’s not a doubt who will start at quarterback for his squad when Jacksonville opens the regular season vs. the Titans. In his mind, there was really never any question.

That person is David Garrard and not rookie Blaine Gabbert, and on Tuesday, Del Rio said it as simply as he could.

“David’s our starter,” Del Rio told the media, via the Florida Times Union.

Fair enough. But before Garrard gets comfortable, he should know this: Del Rio isn’t completely happy with the way he’s played thus far in the preseason (Garrard is 7 of 12 for 99 yards and an interception through two games, while Gabbert is 20 of 39 for 181 yards).

"We need more efficiency offensively and certainly the trigger man plays a large role in that," Del Rio said. "I think it all ties together. You know how I feel about it being a team game that we play and the timing of the routes with the receivers and the protection up front and the quarterback making good decisions delivering the ball. It all comes together and then you're able to do things offensively, where you're a beat off here or a beat off there and the play breaks down and when you have that timing it looks beautiful. So we're doing some things better and we've been in camp long enough.

"We have the same system, we have the same quarterback, we have the same players. We should expect to play at a higher level. I expect us to play at a higher level and now would be a good time."

Eventually, the person playing at a higher level will probably be Gabbert, a point made by CBSSports.com’s Pete Prisco earlier this month when he tabbed him as a future top-10 quarterback.

Wrote Prisco: "I watched his tape in college, and Gabbert did some things that were unsettling. He felt phantom pressure at times. But you could always see the arm and the athletic ability. I liked Florida State's Christian Ponder more -- still do -- but Gabbert looked much better than I expected Thursday.

“I know it's only one practice, and it's not live contact, but he does things that you want from a quarterback. The coaches aren't publicly saying all that much about him, but they know. The scouts know. And you better believe general manager Gene Smith knows.”

For now, Del Rio doesn’t know. Or he will pretend he doesn’t know so Gabbert can continue improving or because he feels Garrard gives Del Rio a better chance of keeping his job after this season. But someday soon, when a reporter asks who the starter is, Del Rio will be saying (as if it’s been obvious the whole time), “Blaine’s our starter.”

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Posted on: August 18, 2011 12:37 am
 

Blaine Gabbert headed for the starting QB role?

Posted by Will Brinson

We spent a good amount of time earlier this week breaking down which rookie quarterback will have the most impact during the 2011 NFL season. With the possibility of Blaine Gabbert's shooting up the depth chart, though, we may have to revise that list.

Well, Josh and Ryan will. I had Gabbert second, so I'm totally fine with the news that, according to Tania Ganguli of the Florida Times-Union, Gabbert's been getting "more" first-team reps in a practice that the Jags split with the Falcons.

Gabbert says that the media's making too much of his reps, but anyone with any sense disagrees -- he wouldn't be taking all the snaps with the first team if he didn't have a good shot to start.

And, per our own Pete Prisco, the idea of Gabbert opening the season as the Jaguars starter isn't all that far-fetched.

"Everybody in Jax is getting on board with what I told you 13 days ago: Gabbert can start on opening day -- and might," Prisco tweeted. "If Gabbert plays well in next two preseason games, he starts opening day I think.

"Gabbert impressed a lot of Falcons people I talked to today. Kid has it."

Gabbert looked good in his first preseason game, I thought, but he certainly has some developing to do before he's a bonafide NFL starter.

That might not matter all that much when it comes to creating a depth chart in Jacksonville. Jack Del Rio's on the hot seat (stop me if you've heard that one) and making a run in a tough division with a talented rookie quarterback, even if the Jaguars fell short of making the playoffs, would go a long way towards him keeping his job.

Plus, if Gabbert and Garrard are reasonably comparable in terms of what they can produce right now when the season starts, there's really no reason not to go ahead and start preparing for the future.

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Posted on: July 18, 2011 12:53 pm
Edited on: July 18, 2011 5:32 pm
 

GM Smith: Re-signing current Jags '1st priority'

Posted by Will Brinson

The Jacksonville Jaguars are an interesting team to watch as we emerge from the lockout cocoon and head (hopefully) to the 2011 season. They've got a rookie quarterback who might or might not play and a head coach who might or might not be on the hot seat.

In other words, the future, and measuring short- versus long-term goals is kind of up the air. So it'll be interesting to see how they handle free agency. According GM Gene Smith, getting their "own players" will take precedent. “Our own players will always be our first priority,” Smith said, per Tania Ganguli of the Florida Times-Union. “I’ve said this before that it is our objective to get a long-term deal done with Marcedes.”

Obviously, Smith's referring to tight end Marcedes Lewis, who was franchise tagged near the end of February. Less obvious is how the situation with Lewis will play out -- there's been some chatter that Lewis will hold out, based on his decision to remain in Los Angeles "until [his] deal is done."

He's also commented that he just wants "to be treated fair."

“All I can do is be optimistic about it,” Lewis told Ganguli in a recent phone interview. “I think both sides have an idea of where we want to go. I’m just going to continue to handle my side and let them take care of that. I’m hoping we can get it done and get me in camp.”

Lewis' situation is fascinating because the Jaguars have already gotten rid of one-time breakout wide receiver Mike Sims-Walker and are left with Mike Thomas shoring up their No. 1 receiver spot.

Making Lewis happy and getting him into camp on time is something that appears absolutely essential for Smith if he wants to ensure that the Jaguars have enough offensive potency to keep with the rest of the AFC South, especially if they're not planning on trolling for free agents between now and the start of the season.

After all, if David Garrard doesn't have any weapons, the Jags might struggle early and Blaine Gabbert might find himself under center sooner than anyone expects. Not having a safety net at tight end for their rookie is probably something the Jacksonville front office would like to avoid.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com