JACKSONVILLE, Fla – Another candidate has emerged as the potential next head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars — former Denver Broncos head coach Vic Fangio.
According to multiple reports on Thursday, Fangio was interviewed for the job on Monday. ESPN reporter Adam Schefter said the Jaguars picked up the NFL veteran coach in a private plane for an interview.
Fangio spent three seasons as the Bears defensive coordinator before lasting just one season at the helm of the Broncos. Fangio and Jaguars’ general manager Trent Baalke worked together for four years in San Francisco.
When the Jaguars private plane was in Denver on Monday, it wasn't there to take Nathaniel Hackett to Jacksonville for an interview; it was there to pick up former Broncos HC Vic Fangio, who has interviewed for Jaguars' HC job, per league sources. Fangio is a candidate for Jaguars— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 27, 2022
Source confirms Jaguars flew to Denver on Monday to interview Vic Fangio for head coach position. Trevor Lawrence and Fangio would be enticing duo. #9sports— Mike Klis (@mikeklis) January 27, 2022
AP reported Thursday morning that the Denver Broncos are finalizing a deal to hire Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett as their head coach. Hackett was seen as a potential head coach option for the Jaguars and had a second interview lined up with the team on Thursday before taking the job in Denver.
The emergence of Fangio throws even more confusion into the mix a day after former Jaguars quarterback and current Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich seemed to be the front-runner for the job.
A number of unconfirmed reports said Leftwich is expected to lead the team next season, but Schefter threw some cold water on those rumors Wednesday morning.
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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. That changed on Thursday after Eberflus was reportedly hired by the Chicago Bears.
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
Leftwich is now the only coaching candidate left who the Jaguars have brought in for a second interview.
There were also rumors Thursday that the hold-up in the Jaguars hiring Leftwich is because Leftwich wants to bring in his own general manager and get rid of the embattled Baalke. Leftwich reportedly wants to bring in Adrian Wilson as GM. Wilson is completing his seventh season with the Arizona Cardinals’ scouting department and first as the team’s vice president of pro personnel.
Hearing the Jaguars are close to hiring Adrian Wilson as their GM and Byron Leftwich as HC.— Mike Jurecki (@mikejurecki) January 27, 2022
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Schefter later reported that the New Orleans Saints have also requested permission to interview Leftwich for their head coaching job. Long-time Saints head coach Sean Payton stepped down on Tuesday.
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.
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News4JAX spoke with 1010XL radio host Ryan “Hacker” Green about the possibility of Leftwich.
“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 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.