Jaguars owner Shad Khan has 'pieces in place' to win now
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) Of all the money Shad Khan has spent on the Jacksonville Jaguars since buying the franchise in 2012, his most expensive venture has been upgrading talent the last two years.
The billionaire owner has committed nearly $400 million to sign a dozen free agents, including defensive tackle Malik Jackson and safety Tashaun Gipson this offseason.
Now, after winning just 14 games in four years, he hopes to see a return on his investment.
''My expectations are we get better and we win,'' Khan said Friday. ''I think it's very simple. It's no different than every player that's on the team, every coach that's on the team. We want to win and we have a lot of pieces in place now that will help us do it.''
While the on-field project has taken time under general manager Dave Caldwell and coach Gus Bradley, Khan focused on improving everything around players and fans.
His latest development started Friday as Khan and city officials broke ground on the second phase of a $90 million upgrade to EverBank Field, called Daily's Place. The new complex adjacent to the stadium will feature a 5,000-seat amphitheater and the 94,000-square-foot, multi-use indoor facility. Khan and the city agreed to split the cost of the construction, bringing the owner's total spent on the stadium to $76 million.
The amphitheater and neighboring facility are expected to be completed by May 2017.
''Those are really, really important steps toward meeting our ultimate goal, which is a sustainable, stable, successful NFL team in Jacksonville,'' said Jaguars President Mark Lamping, who added that increasing current revenue streams and creating new ones are key parts of the process.
Winning on the field might be even bigger.
The Jaguars believe they have their best collection of talent since Khan hired Caldwell and Bradley in 2013. Offensively, they made huge strides last year with quarterback Blake Bortles and receivers Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns. But they still need to solidify an offensive line that has allowed an NFL-high 122 sacks the last two seasons and improve their running game, especially in short-yardage and goal-line situation.
Defensively, Jacksonville ranked near the bottom of the league in just about every major category in 2015.
Bradley responded by firing defensive coordinator Bob Babich and promoting Todd Wash to replace him. And Caldwell took a huge swing at fixing the unit by signing Jackson, Gipson and cornerback Prince Amukamara, and using the team's first five draft picks on that side of the ball. Cornerback Jalen Ramsey, linebacker Myles Jack, defensive end Yannick Ngakoue and defensive tackle Sheldon Day - all rookies - should contribute right away.
Add in second-year pro Dante Fowler Jr., a talented pass-rusher who missed his rookie season with a knee injury, and the Jaguars could have four or five new defensive starters.
And maybe more wins.
''This turned out to be a rebuild rather than a remodel,'' Khan said. ''Obviously takes a little bit longer, but I'm delighted where we are and we've got to move forward.''
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