“What’s evaded the history of the Jags, really, has been a franchise quarterback.”
That was the telling statement by Jacksonville Jaguars Owner Shad Khan on Monday morning.
Shortly after Jacksonville finished the 2020 season 1-15 and saying goodbye to now former head coach Doug Marrone, the Jags owner laid out a road map for future success. It’s no secret that for any NFL team that starts with the quarterback. The position is more often than not the pendulum on which an entire team’s success swings…and the Jaguars have more often than not been untethered, rocking about wildly with no quarterback to which they can pin future plans.
In the 25 year history of the Jaguars franchise, there have been 21 different starting quarterbacks in black and teal. Only three players have ever started all 16 games in a season for the Jags: Mark Brunell, David Garrard and Blake Bortles. Khan sees that as a direct correlation to the Jaguars failures, especially over the course of his ownership the past eight years.
“I think obviously developing a young quarterback, we’ve been very unsuccessful at that. [The] last eight years, we haven’t had a franchise quarterback, so I think that is very, very important.”
Developing a young quarterback will be of the utmost priority for whoever is named the head coach and general manager, both positions that still need to be filled. The ability to have the best talent available thanks to owning the No. 1 pick in the upcoming 2021 NFL Draft—along with the most cap space of any team heading into the offseason—means the role is decidedly more enticing than it was even a year ago.
It is the No. 1 pick though that Khan believes can change the franchise.
“Certainly we have a lot of salary cap availability along with the draft picks and obviously the number one pick…I think what’s unique, certainly, is that we have the ability now to make a choice and it’s going to define the franchise moving forward.”
That choice has universally been accepted as Clemson Tigers quarterback Trevor Lawrence for the past several months. He’s been the top spot on draft boards since his freshman year at Clemson, when he defeated Alabama and Nick Saban for a National Championship. While not repeating with the trophy, Lawrence has put the Tigers in the playoffs the past two years as well, leading to a 34-2 record as a starter.
While Khan didn’t mention Lawrence by name during his Monday press conference, he alluded to the selection and flat out said April was a chance to change the Jaguars future at the position. And because of that, Khan sees the immediate future of the Jaguars as a chance to win now, as opposed to starting a rebuild.
“Obviously we’re going to have a lead franchise quarterback,” admitted Khan.
“You can’t have a mindset [of] this is a rebuild and it’s going to take time, etc. We have to have a mindset [that] we’re building for the long haul, but you have to be able to win at the same time.”
Winning right away is a tall task. To do so requires a franchise quarterback. Shad Khan knows that is finally within Jacksonville's reach.