JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jaguars parted ways with offensive coordinator John DeFilippo after just one year on Monday. If I were the Jaguars, I would be looking for four criteria for the next offensive coordinator.
1. A track record of developing young QBs. It is vital for the Jaguars offensive coordinator to be able to develop Gardner Minshew and/or a quarterback the Jaguars could draft in April. Some coordinators are great with veteran quarterbacks. Others thrive on developing young signal-callers. The best can do both.
2. A creative play-caller. We saw some creative play-calling from DeFilippo, but we need to see more from the next play-caller.
3. A coach who embraces the running game and is willing to grind out wins. Based on who the Jaguars are as an offense right now, he needs to embrace the running game. He doesn't have to be an old school, guy all the way, but the Jaguars offensive line is much better in the run game than in the passing game.
4. A servant-leader type. What you don't want is a guy who wants to pad his resume and make the offense all about him. He has to be focused on making the offense the best it can be to win games, not just to put up big numbers.
Former head coaches
Jason Garrett: Recently fired as the head coach of the Cowboys, Garrett was a quarterback in the NFL from 1989-2004 before moving into a coaching role as the Dolphins’ quarterbacks coach. He spent the past 13 seasons in Dallas, including the last nine season as the Cowboys head coach.
He may want to spend a year considering his options since the Cowboys waited so late in the game to move on from Garrett, so the potential of a one year stay in Jacksonville might not deter him. He was the head coach as Dak Prescott became a star in the league and spent time as the head coach when Tony Romo enjoyed many of his best seasons.
Jay Gruden: Although Gruden’s time as the Redskins head coach was not particularly noteworthy, his time as an offensive coordinator in Cincinnati included three straight wild-card playoff appearances and one division title.
Gruden interviewed for the Jaguars coaching job in 2012 before Mike Mularkey was hired. Like Garrett, he may benefit from a job with the potential for a short stay. If he, or any coach, leads a turnaround of the Jaguars offense, the offers for head coaching jobs could be on the way.
Marty Mornhinweg: The former head coach of the Lions, Mornhinweg had limited success as a head coach, winning just five games in two seasons in Detroit. But his resume as an offensive coordinator is much better.
As an OC, his teams have finished 12th or higher in the NFL in total offense, including four seasons in the top 5. He coached Brett Favre with the Packers, Steve Young with the 49ers and Joe Flacco with the Ravens.
Jim Caldwell: The former Colts head coach currently serves as the assistant head coach and quarterbacks coach in Miami, so any hire would have to include a title that included assistant head coach. Caldwell began coaching quarterbacks in the NFL in 2001 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The following year he became the assistant head coach and quarterbacks coach in Indianapolis where he had a guy named Peyton Manning to coach. Does Caldwell deserve credit for Manning’s success? Probably so. At the age of 64, it is uncertain if Caldwell would move to a second team in as many years.
Todd Monken: The current offensive coordinator for the Browns, however with the firing of Brown head coach Freddie Kitchens, Monken’s future is uncertain. His one season as the Browns offensive coordinator resulted in Cleveland ranking 22nd in the NFL in yards per game and points per game. Monken was the Jaguars wide receivers coach from 2007-2010 under Jack Del Rio.
Byron Leftwich: The former Jaguars first-round pick served as the offensive coordinator for the Arizona Cardinals in 2018 and in the same position for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2019.
A big question for Leftwich would be if he would want to leave the Buccaneers, who had a prolific, if inefficient 2019 season, for a Jaguars team with uncertainty at the quarterback position (not to mention questionable stability of entire coaching staff beyond 2020). The Buccaneers were the third-ranked offense and third highest-scoring offense in the NFL in 2019.
Darrell Bevell: His Jacksonville connection is that he was considered for the offensive coordinator’s job last year at this time, but instead, they opted for DeFilippo. Bevell has had two stints coaching Brett Favre, in both Green Bay and Minnesota, and also coached Russell Wilson in Seattle. Bevell spent the 2019 season as the Lions offensive coordinator. Detroit finished ranked 17th in the league in total yards and 18th in scoring.
Other offensive minds
Mike Kafka: He has been the quarterbacks coach in Kansas City the past two years. While I’m not sure you can give him all of the credit for Patrick Mahomes’ success, he has to have learned a fair amount working under Andy Reid. He’s also a former Northwestern quarterback who spent part of the 2013 preseason with the Jaguars. Dave Caldwell is also familiar with Kafka from his earlier days in Atlanta, where Kafka was a backup to Michael Vick.
Jim Bob Cooter: Replaced by Bevell in Detroit, Cooter was the quarterbacks coach in Detroit prior to becoming the offensive coordinator for the Lions. In 2019, he served as the Jets running backs coach, so a promotion to offensive coordinator would be an easy sell. Plus, doesn’t Jacksonville have to hire a guy named Jim Bob at some point?
Steve Sarkisian: The former college quarterback at BYU, Sarkisian has spent more of this career coaching quarterback or being a head coach. He was the offensive coordinator at Alabama in 2019, so if the Jaguars are going to try to draft Tua Tagavailoa, he would have plenty of experience with the quarterback.
Sarkisian spent two seasons in the NFL as the Falcons offensive coordinator in 2017 and 2018. In his first season, the Falcons made the playoffs with a 10-6 record in the follow-up season for the Falcons’ Super Bowl appearance. He had a history of issues with alcohol, so the Jaguars would have to be sure those issues are behind him.