Which Jaguars Assistant Coaches Could Potentially Survive a Regime Change?
After the Jacksonville Jaguars (4-9) lost 45-10 in embarrassing fashion to the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 14 at TIAA Bank Field, the already question of a coaching change once again flared up.
Jacksonville was 4-4 after Week 8 but since has lost five games in a row by 17 or more points. Three of those losses have come vs. AFC South rivals and three of the teams who have beat Jacksonville so soundly are currently below .500. Not only has Jacksonville not been competitive, but they are getting blown out by mediocre teams.
At this point, the question isn't if head coach Doug Marrone will be ousted. Instead, it is when the move will actually happen.
So, when Marrone is eventually replaced as the Jaguars' head coach, what will happen to the staff he has built in Jacksonville? Like any team that undergoes a coaching change, it should be expected the vast majority of assistant coaches will also be replaced.
This wasn't quite the case when Marrone was hired in 2017 as he kept Gus Bradley's coordinators (Nate Hackett and Todd Wash), but it would be fair to assume that there would be more sweeping changes this time around after the half-measures of 2017 failed to produce sustained success.
The likelihood of any of Marrone's assistant coaches remaining on the team under a new head coach in 2020 is low, but that doesn't mean there aren't a few members of Marrone's staff that could at least make an argument to remain in Jacksonville. It shouldn't be expected, but there are three coaches who could potentially survive coaching turnover thanks to the jobs they have done despite the team's failures.
Former Jaguars wide receiver Keenan McCardell joined the staff as its wide receiver coach in 2017 when Marrone and executive vice president of football operations Tom Coughlin were hired. Since then, McCardell has been one of the few assistants to survive a staff purge following a 5-11 season in 2018, reflecting the respect he has in TIAA Bank Field.
That respect won't do him many favors if Marrone and Coughlin are fired when the season concludes, but the job he has done in Jacksonville might. He lost his top player in 2017 when Allen Robinson suffered an ACL injury in Week 1, but he was able to develop undrafted rookie receiver Keelan Cole on the fly and help Cole have the best year of his career thus far as only a rookie (42 receptions for 748 yards and three touchdowns). He did a similarly good job developing Dede Westbrook, helping the receiver grow his game as a pro in his second year in the NFL in 2018 and leading to a 66 catch, 717 yards and five touchdown season despite playing on one of the worst offenses in the NFL.
In 2019, McCardell once again helped a young wide receiver take his game to new heights with second-year wide receiver DJ Chark, and Chark may be his greatest work. After showing little to nothing as a rookie in 2018, Chark exploded in 2019 and showed a terrific refinement of his game in terms of route running, ball skills and body control, things Chark has said McCardell has played a large role in developing. Chark leads the team in touchdown receptions (8) and receiving yards (956), solid numbers on a bad offense.
McCardell has shown a penchant for helping young wide receivers grow in the NFL. He has not had much success with veterans who have already built bad habits (Donte Moncrief and Chris Conley) but his work with young players should at least give him an argument to stick on a new staff.
Tim Walton, in his first year as Jacksonville's secondary/cornerbacks coach, has had to work with a lot of different pieces in 2019, many of which he was never supposed to have to coach up to be a starter.
Walton's prized pupil Jalen Ramsey, who said Walton was maybe the best position coach he has had, was traded to the Los Angeles Rams before Week 7 but didn't play in any game following Week 3. So for the vast majority of the 2019 season, Walton has been without his best cornerback, instead having to develop second-year cornerback Tre Herndon into an everyday starter. Walton has also had to deal with a revolving door at safety and slot cornerback at times due to injuries to Ronnie Harrison and D.J. Hayden.
To say Jacksonville's defense has been bad as of late would be an understatement, but for the most part of 2019, the secondary has been its most consistent unit. A.J. Bouye has had a solid season while Herndon has been up and down but has proven he is at least a serviceable cornerback. Walton is far more unlikely to stick around than McCardell due to the team's defensive failures, but he has done a fine job coaching up the secondary. He isn't likely to stick around on the next coaching staff, but out of all of the defensive coaches, he has the best argument.
In his third season as Jacksonville's special teams coordinator under Marrone, veteran coach Joe DeCamillis has coached the least embarrassing part of Jacksonville's bad football team. Not exactly a high bar, but DeCammilis' group has done a fine job this season.
Josh Lambo was released by the Chargers in 2017 but when since being signed by the Jaguars he has become one of the best kickers in the NFL and has yet to miss a field goal at TIAA Bank Field in 30+ attempts. This year, Lambo leads the NFL in field goal %, converting 96.3% of his attempts into points (26/27).
Meanwhile, punter Logan Cooke has developed nicely since a rocky rookie season in 2018 and is establishing himself as one of the AFC's top punters in his second season. He is fourth in the NFL in net punt average (43.8 yards) and is landing 33.3% of his punts inside the 20-yard line.
DeCamillis' return groups have yet to take one back for a touchdown, but his work with Lambo and Cooke has been impressive. Impressive enough to keep him on the next staff? Probably not. But he may at least have an argument to make.