Jaguars owner Shahid Khan is still a relative newcomer to the business of running an NFL team, but he seems to be learning fast.
He plucked a new general manager from the tree of Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff, hiring Falcons director of player personnel David Caldwell on Wednesday — a solid hire from all accounts — and Khan did not allow whatever personal affection he had for head coach Mike Mularkey to prevent him from giving Caldwell the authority to decide the fate of Mularkey, whom Caldwell was familiar with given that Mularkey served as the Falcons’ offensive coordinator from 2008-11 when Caldwell was Atlanta’s director of college scouting.
On Thursday, Caldwell fired Mularkey after a 2-14 season.
Khan showed wisdom that some of his more experienced colleagues in the ownership ranks are missing or ignoring this offseason.
It would be unreasonable to expect a head coach and general manager to agree on everything. Disagreeing at times can be a good thing that cultivates debate and a closer examination of situations before decisions are made. However, the most successful teams in the league typically have a head coach and a general manager that are on the exact same page. There is trust between the two and they share similar philosophies for building a team.
Panthers owner Jerry Richardson and Jets owner Woody Johnson both decided to retain their head coach (Ron Rivera and Rex Ryan) before they even hired a general manager this offseason. In doing so, they run the risk of setting the organization back by however long they force the general manager to continue working with a head coach the new GM may or may not have full confidence in.
That is exactly what the Bears did a year ago, when new GM Phil Emery was forced to work with head coach Lovie Smith for the 2012 season. Emery went about the business of acquiring and drafting players that fit Smith’s system, and then he promptly fired Smith the first day he had the authority to do so.
Khan is not barring Caldwell from deciding who will coach the group of players he puts together and is paying the respect to the head coach/GM dynamic that is so critical to functional football operations.
The Jaguars have their work cut out for them as they try to close the gap between themselves and the powers in their division, but Jaguars fans should be encouraged by Khan’s willingness to let his general manager do his job.