The Jacksonville Jaguars have spent the better portion of the last week interviewing potential head coaching candidates, but they’ve reportedly zeroed in on a candidate already. Tampa Bay defensive coordinator Mike Smith, who coached Atlanta for seven seasons before being fired at the end of the 2014 season. Smith was 67-50 as a head coach, and was named the AP Coach of the Year, along with NFL Coach of the Year in 2008. He led the Falcons to the playoffs four times in his seven year tenure in Atlanta.
Smith has a history with Jacksonville. He was defensive coordinator under former Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio for five seasons before being hired by Atlanta. But more importantly, Smith has a history with Jaguars general manager David Caldwell, who single-handily saw what Smith did as the head coach of Atlanta when Caldwell was employed there.
“During each of Caldwell’s five years with the Falcons, Smith led the team to a winning record, culminating in an NFC title-game appearance. So while Smith’s star fell quickly in the two years after Caldwell had left, Caldwell’s full memories of his five years with the Falcons include working with a coach who, every single season, won more games than he lost.
In the four seasons since then for Caldwell, it’s been the other extreme, with Gus Bradley going 14-48 before being fired late in the 2016 season.”
Smith would leave a lukewarm feeling among fans because he’s not a flashy candidate as Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels or Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. However, that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t make a good hire. Smith has a good track record as head coach. He turned around an Atlanta franchise that was left completely barren after the Michael Vick and Bobby Petrino era.
Smith’s first task, at least in the eyes of Jacksonville faithful, would be bringing in a competent offensive coordinator to help further the development of quarterback Blake Bortles. Bortles regressed in a major way in 2016 and is one of the franchise’s biggest question marks heading into the 2017 off-season.