JACKSONVILLE, Fla – Jacksonville Jaguars fans were buzzing Wednesday over the possibility the team might soon have a new head coach — possibly one with a familiar face.
A number of unconfirmed reports are saying Buccaneers offensive coordinator, and former Jags first-round pick, Byron Leftwich will lead the team next season.
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The Jaguars have not released anything official, but according to some reports, an announcement could come as early as Wednesday.
One high-profile NFL insider threw some cold water on those rumors Wednesday morning, though.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweeted that the Jags are considering Leftwich and Colts DC Matt Eberflus, amongst others, but that no deal is in the works yet for any coach, according to his sources.
Jaguars continue talking with Bucs OC Byron Leftwich and Colts DC Matt Eberflus, amongst others, but are not close to a deal with anyone at this time, per sources. Jags still haven’t decided which way they’ll go. Organization still going through the process and figuring out.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 26, 2022
NFL reporter Rick Stroud, on the other hand, implied a deal is definitely in the works with Leftwich. Stroud covers the Bucs for the Tampa Bay Times.
Hearing there are some items left to clear up contractually but both Byron Leftwich and Jacksonville are trying to finalize an agreement to make him the Jaguars next head coach.— Rick Stroud (@NFLSTROUD) January 26, 2022
In the meantime, Jaguars fans remain on edge, anticipating who the next head coach will be.
A group of “super fans” gathered at the stadium Wednesday amid the Leftwich rumblings, which started after the Bucs OC had a second interview with the Jaguars in person on Tuesday in Tampa, following the Bucs’ season-ending loss to the Rams.
“We’re Duval till we die. We don’t stop. We’re going to be here to support whoever the coach is. We’re going to fill the stands for them,” David Mendenhall said.
With signs, flags and tattoos Mendenhall and fellow Jaguars superfan Danny Geoghagan showed up to TIAA Bank Field to support the team as they wait to learn who the next head coach will be. Regardless, they hope the new leader is a winner.
“We’re super fans. We support whatever decisions that (owner Shad) Khan makes, and I know he’s out there looking for the best, and he’s going to get the best and this is going to be a great year for us,” Mendenhall said.
Again, the Jaguars have not released anything official, but Tuesday night a Twitter buzz exploded when one local Jags fan — with a reputation for “getting it right” — sent a tweet that said, “Byron Leftwich will be the next Head Coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars.”
Byron Leftwich will be the next Head Coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars— Dilla (@E_Dilla) January 26, 2022
Major sports blogs and websites quickly picked up the tweet and said it appeared to be legitimate.
Mendenhall and Geoghagan said they hope the Leftwich rumors are true -- but they’ll support the team no matter the choice.
“Just a great guy, his development with Brady and coaching Brady down in Tampa, what he could bring to Trevor Lawrence’s development and what he could bring to us moving forward as a great offensive unit,” Geoghagan said, adding that he’s not concerned about Leftwich’s lack of head coaching experience.
News4JAX spoke with 1010XL radio host Ryan “Hacker” Green.
“The biggest concern is that he’s never done it, and when you’re coming into a situation like this that looks like a complete and total rebuild, can a guy that’s never been a head coach live up to the expectation of basically rebuilding an entire roster/organization?” he said. “I think when you bring up Byron Leftwich, you think about a guy who was a top 10 pick, the guy that went 24 and 20, which is basically a .500-esque quarterback and a guy who left here after really only four years and many consider that to be a disappointment as a top 10 pick in the draft.”
If Leftwich were to get the position, it would bring him back to where his professional football career started. Leftwich was the seventh overall draft pick by the Jaguars in 2003 and was the starting quarterback for four seasons. He passed for 9,042 yards in Jacksonville, along with 51 touchdowns and 36 interceptions.
Leftwich joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the offensive coordinator in 2019, helping the team win Super Bowl 55 in 2021.
If Leftwich gets the position, he would be Jacksonville’s first Black full-time head coach.
Some News4JAX Insiders said their concerns for Leftwich becoming the coach are less about Leftwich and more about the front office, specifically General Manager Trent Baalke.
“I feel sorry for Byron. To have your first head coaching opportunity with the worst roster in the NFL and a GM known as a coach killer,” one Insider said.
Another added: “Byron could be a great HC but if they do not replace that GM, it’s a bad spot for him. You need players to win.”
There is still no official word from the Jaguars, but News4JAX is monitoring social media for confirmation.