The Jaguars appear to have “honed’’ in on their next head coach and at least one prominent NFL insider believes Buccaneers defensive coordinator Mike Smith could be their target.
Former Bucs general manager Mark Dominik said on SiriusXM NFL Radio on Sunday night that he believes the Jags want a defensive-minded coach and that Smith could be their guy.
“(Smith) is in the state of Florida already and he’s got very good ties to (Jaguars general manager) David Caldwell, (who is) very good friends with (Falcons general manager) Thomas Dimitroff,’’ Dominik said.
“And I know it hurt Thomas to have to let go of Smitty (when he was head coach of the Falcons) because they are very good friends … and that’s one of the best relationships you can have.
“And so there’s a known commodity there, it’s not a new coach in Mike Smith they’d be hiring, so we’ll see what happens but I feel like Jacksonville is very close to figuring out who (its) next coach will be.’’
Dominik said he wouldn’t be surprised if the Jags make the announcement on a new head coach early this week, perhaps as soon as Tuesday, after the college football national title game is played.
There may be a hitch, though, at least as it pertains to Smith. You see, the Jaguars aren’t the only team interested in Smith. The Chargers have interviewed him, too.
And just like Jacksonville, the word regarding the Chargers is that they too are looking to hire a defensive-minded head coach. It’s possible then that Smith will have his choice of jobs.
If that’s the case, it might come down to which team he believes has the better organization or is closer to winning. It might even come down to where Smith most wants to live.
He’s done the Jacksonville thing before, for five years when he was the Jags defensive coordinator from 2003-2007. San Diego might seem more attractive to him, though he probably wouldn’t be there for long.
The Chargers are expected to eventually move to Los Angeles, so Smith may have to consider all the personal and professional hassles associated with that as well as he makes up his mind.
Either way, it seems possible that the Bucs may soon know, if they don’t already, whether they’re going to have spend the early part of the offseason looking for a new defensive coordinator.
Jaguars searching for RB depth after second preseason game
With preseason game number two in the books, it’s apparent the Jaguars have real issues with running back depth due to injury. This after veteran Alfred Blue left the first half of the 24 – 10 Thursday night loss to the Eagles with an ankle injury and did not return.
Blue carried the ball four times for just five yards has Jacksonville offense once again sputtered behind a makeshift offensive line. Coach Doug Marrone was so concerned about that line situation and their ability to protect/block that starting quarterback Nick Foles and running back Leonard Fournette never saw the field for a single play during Thursday night.
That means that veteran at Thomas Rawls (above Thursday) was called upon to carry the ball a little more, and he did so, seven times for 19 yards including a long run of 11 playing in the first half.
Rawls is a 5th year veteran who had some modest success with the Seahawks, including rushing for 830 yards his rookie year in 2015 with a 5.6 yard per carry average. His numbers tapered off in 2016 – 17 with ankle and foot injuries, as he only played in 21 games in those two years. Rawls was later released and picked up by the Bengals, but injured again last season, and never carried the ball in Cincinnati.
Obviously, the Jaguars are wanting to implement Fournette, as the primary ball carrier, but they will need someone else to spell him on a series or two. Also, Fournette has had durability questions, as he missed parts or all of eight games last year with a hamstring injury.
The Jags were also hoping to bring along Temple rookie running back Ryquell Armstead, but after he carried eight times for 22 yards last week, he suffered a concussion in the preseason opening loss to the Ravens. Armstead hasn’t practiced since, and is still being evaluated with no further update Thursday.
Speaking of updates, we await how serious Blue’s ankle injury is coming off this second preseason game. Meanwhile, the likelihood is that Fournette, backed up by Rawls, will be the two running backs when the Jaguars play at the Dolphins next Thursday night.
Jaguars dilemma with injuries vs preseason playing time
The Jacksonville Jaguars will play their second preseason game tonight against the Philadelphia Eagles at TIAA Bank Field. At least, some of them will play against the Eagles.
And therein lies “The Dilemma” facing coach Doug Marrone, his staff and a team trying to shake off an awful 2018 season.
How much are his guys going to play, if at all, in this second exhibition contest? This is a week after 20 of his 22 starters did not play a down in the preseason opening loss in Baltimore.
And while everybody has been looking at the possibility of former Eagles Super Bowl MVP, and now Jaguars free agent star QB, Nick Foles going against his old team, it quite possibly won’t materialize.
As Mike Dirocco, ESPN beat writer for the Jaguars, wrote about earlier this week, Foles all the conceded he may not be out there very much due to injuries on the Jaguars offensive line and concerns over being able to protect him.
However, you cannot replicate the “live fire of a game,” like in the preseason, where Foles can work on timing at full speed with his reads and throws to young receivers like D.J. Chark, DeDe Westbrook and Chris Conley.
Further, it’s not as if the Jags have a season, much less several seasons, of experience with Foles with his personnel to lean on. No, he’s trying to get used to them, and they’re trying to get used to him.
And, let’s not forget that star running back Leonard Fournette wants to have a bounce-back 2019 and he didn’t play a down last week. Yes, there were injury issues with his hamstring all last year.
So what will Marrone and new offensive coordinator John DeFilippo do with Fournette tonight? This is especially with a banged up O-Line.
And, maybe it will be, a series or maybe, none at all that we see the former LSU number one pick, who wowed everyone in his rookie season of 2017.
It’s fully understood that weeks from now, this Thursday night’s second preseason game isn’t going to matter. But for right now?
The first unit Jaguars need to be able to work together under a game tested circumstance, and it doesn’t look like they’re going to do much of that in North Florida Thursday night.