The NFL has chewed up and spit out a wide range of coaches over the years but it’s still stunning at how swift Urban Meyer went from being hailed as one of the best to ever do it In college to a disgraced former pro whose tenure is comparable (in a bad way) to Bobby Petrino’s. Meyer’s missteps over the course of 11 months in charge are too numerous to list but safe to say that there will be far more than a new head coach down in Duval come 2022 as the organization seeks yet another massive reboot on and off the field.
Central to the Jaguars’ upcoming search is what exactly owner Shad Khan will be looking for as he undoubtedly wants both a fresh start and a hire that can get him back in the good graces with a fan base that’s been through the ringer. There’s still plenty of intrigue about the opening given a young building blocking in quarterback Trevor Lawrence and a host of young skill position talent to pair with cap space and high draft picks. Who wants to take on this project and rebuild a culture that still has not been created? Here are 10 candidates to watch that could be the next Jags head coach.
Byron Leftwich, Buccaneers offensive coordinator
The coaching search may very well start and end with the team’s former first-round pick from 2003. He’s been publicly touted by Bucs head coach Bruce Arians as somebody who could take his place and he’s earned rave reviews for his work with Tom Brady in turning the team into the best in the NFC for the past two years. He’s 41, which some other owners might say is too young but that could in fact be his biggest selling point in Jacksonville as a way to quickly connect with the young offensive core after spending the past year mired in toxicity.
Eric Bieniemy, Chiefs offensive coordinator
One of the frequent names to come up in every NFL coaching search the past two cycles, his role in helping develop a phenom like Patrick Mahomes is bound to be very attractive to a franchise hoping to get the most out of Trevor Lawrence. He’s got a bit of fire to his personality that is on the more productive end of the spectrum compared to Meyer and could be just the kind of home run ownership is looking for.
Brian Daboll, Bills offensive coordinator
Buffalo’s struggles this season could dampen the attractiveness of Daboll’s candidacy despite the great work he’s done nurturing Josh Allen over the years. His creativity would be valued as a play-caller and it’s hard to overlook somebody who has won trophies with both Nick Saban and Bill Belichick.
Josh McDaniels, Patriots offensive coordinator
New England being in the race for the AFC’s top seed despite starting a rookie QB should reignite interest in McDaniels, who has been choosy about any potential next move. He’s been a head coach and quickly rebuilt a team into a playoff unit before too.
Kellen Moore, Cowboys offensive coordinator
Sometimes you just want to hire the opposite of what didn’t work out and Moore would certainly qualify as the complete diametrical opposite of Meyer in pretty much every respect. The Cowboys look primed to win the NFC East going away and the former Boise State quarterback calling plays and varying game plans is a big reason why. He remains incredibly young, but such is his star power right now that few would bat an eyelash at Jacksonville trying to hire him.
Todd Bowles, Buccaneers defensive coordinator
The soft-spoken Bowles would be somebody who could quickly win over the locker room and help shore up the real area of concern in Duval in that dreadful defense. Who he would bring in as OC to help mentor Lawrence will be a pressing question but this continues to be a name those in the league think is ready for a second go-around as head coach — especially given how relatively successful his Jets run looks in retrospect.
Matt Eberflus, Colts defensive coordinator
If the Jags stick with defense, Eberflus would provide a youngish and aggressive option to take over and help shake up the AFC South. His scheme work has earned rave reviews around the league and it’s only a matter of time before he’s the one holding press conferences as a HC.
Former Head Coaches
Doug Pederson, former Eagles head coach
If ownership liked Meyer’s rings from his time at Florida and Ohio State, they’ll love Pederson’s Lombardi Trophy just as much. He oversaw the development of Carson Wentz from young rookie into near league MVP and that incredible run to top the Patriots is hard to look away from when hiring. He may insist on a little more control than others, which could be an issue for some in the front office as much as his personality.
Marvin Lewis, former Bengals head coach
Lewis has been involved in a few searches the past few cycles and would offer the franchise a veteran head coach with vast NFL experience to lean on. He would garner instant respect in the locker room and could be a nice stabilizing force. His biggest knock is his playoff record with the Bengals but that is an issue Jacksonville would love to have.
Matt Campbell, Iowa State head coach
The Jags probably won’t go back to the college well again but if they did, they’d be wise to look to Ames and how Campbell has done more with less than just about anybody. He’s a proven winner dating back to his college days and is somebody who actually backs up big talk about culture. Plus, there likely wouldn’t be an issue in ceding power to more established league vets like GM Trent Baalke.
— Written by Bryan Fischer, an award-winning college football columnist and member of the Athlon Contributor Network. You can follow him from coast-to-coast on Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat at @BryanDFischer.