One of the coaches Shad Khan interviewed to be the next head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars has found a head coaching role elsewhere. But even without the Jaguars hiring Arthur Smith, Jacksonville could see a boost from him leaving the Tennessee Titans.
Khan eventually hired three-time national champion and former Florida and Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer, leading to Smith landing with the Atlanta Falcons.
"Since the end of the season, I was privileged to interview numerous candidates to fill our head coaching vacancy. To a man, they were first-class, they had a high character and they can coach," Khan said Friday. "And I expect them all to be NFL coaches, head coaches in the future. In the meantime, I wish each of them the very best and I want to thank them for the time and commitment they took to talk to me and share their thoughts with me."
Khan was right about Smith, as well as Robert Saleh. Saleh interviewed with the Jaguars before agreeing to be the next head coach of the New York Jets, though that agreement also came after Meyer landed the Jaguars job.
While Smith won't be Jacksonville's next head coach, him landing a top gig will still have a positive impact on the Jaguars. Smith has been the Titans' offensive coordinator for the last two seasons, a period in which the Titans went 3-1 against the Jaguars.
Simply put, the Titans have had one of the best offenses in the NFL the past two seasons in large part because of Smith, his scheme, and his ability to call plays. The Jaguars have found themselves on the receiving end of this on three occasions, but they weren't the only ones.
In 2020, the Titans finished No. 3 in the league in total yards per game (396.4) and No. 2 overall in rushing yards per game (168.1). The Titans were also fourth in the league in scoring, scoring 30.7 points per game.
But the Jaguars were hurt by Smith perhaps more than any other team. The Jaguars have allowed 30 points or more in 14 of their last 32 games, with three of those games against Smith and the Titans. Once Ryan Tannehill stepped into the starting role, the Titans averaged 35.3 points per game against the Jaguars and an average of 24.3 first downs per game.
Smith won't be putting together Jacksonville's offense in 2021, but he also won't be doing the same for Ryan Tannehill or Derrick Henry. Tannehill had especially benefitted from Smith, having three mostly flawless games against the Jaguars under Smith's tutelage.
That isn't to say Tannehill, Henry and the rest of the Titans' offense can't still find success against the Jaguars moving forward. The NFL is built on advantages in talent, after all, so perhaps the Titans find another offensive coordinator who can help put the Titans' players in positions to succeed like Smith did.
But maybe not. There was no questioning what Smith's offense could do against the Jaguars twice a year. Now, the Jaguars get to benefit from a rival turned weaker. Considering their 1-15 record last season, the Jaguars will take any breaks they can get.