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Doug Pederson hiring: The Jaguars blew it by not hiring Byron Leftwich


Doug Pederson hiring: The Jaguars blew it by not hiring Byron Leftwich

On Thursday night the Jacksonville Jaguars announced that Doug Pederson will become their next head coach, and it’s … fine. Pederson is a good hire, and under any other circumstances you could probably celebrate it for being a solid move. However, that doesn’t change the fundamental truth that the Jaguars were presented with a wide open, breakaway slam dunk, and still completely botched it.

Naturally we’re talking about Byron Leftwich. One of the hottest coaching commodities on the market, who looked like a stone cold lock to become the Jaguars coach. Leftwich checked every single box the team could ever want. He had a track record of proven success, experience as offensive coordinator of the Buccaneers, a young approach for an organization so often mired in old thinking, and he was beloved by the fan base.

The best part: The feeling was mutual. Leftwich was ready to come to Jacksonville and help turn the Jaguars around, and the only hangup was GM Trent Baalke. If Leftwich is everything the team could want and need, Baalke is the opposite. Fans have been wanting him gone since the moment he was hired, and he has a track record of being a death knell to coaches. Leftwich’s major demand was Baalke be replaced by Adrian Wilson, up-and-coming executive from the Arizona Cardinals, currently serving as their vice president of pro personnel. The duo would have formed a unique, youthful, ex-player braintrust set to finally take the Jaguars into the 21st century — but owner Shad Khan was unwilling to meet the demand, so Leftwich withdrew his name from consideration.

It’s why we circle back to the Pederson hire being “fine.” It could be a whole lot worse, but it doesn’t inspire much excitement.

It’s been suggested that Leftwich having “demands” turned the Jaguars off, but this is pretty ridiculous. He wasn’t asking for complete control, or some giant slush fund to re-work the entire football operation. Leftwich simply wanted a general manager he felt he could mesh with, and who he believed could help him bring success to the Jaguars. What’s wrong with that? Also, keep in mind that…

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