Jacksonville, Fla. — The Jacksonville Jaguars lined up eight interviews for their head-coaching vacancy Tuesday, including five coordinators who are headed to the playoffs and former Lions head coach Jim Caldwell.
The Jaguars requested permission to interview: both Dallas coordinators, former Lions quarterback Kellen Moore and Dan Quinn; both Tampa Bay coordinators, Byron Leftwich and Todd Bowles; and Green Bay offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett. They also requested a sit-down with Indianapolis defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus on the first day teams with vacancies can start the hiring process.
Jacksonville also plans to interview two former NFL head coaches, Caldwell and Doug Pederson (Philadelphia).
Four of the eight have NFL head coaching experience: Caldwell, Pederson, Bowles (New York Jets) and Quinn (Atlanta). Caldwell was 36-28 in four seasons in Detroit from 2014-17, including playoff appearances in the 2014 and 2016 seasons.
Leftwich and Hackett have ties to Jacksonville. The 41-year-old Leftwich was the team’s quarterback between 2003 and 2006. The 42-year-old Hackett served as the team’s quarterbacks coach (2015-16) and offensive coordinator (2016-18) before getting fired in the middle of the 2018 season.
Hiring someone with NFL experience makes sense for the Jaguars following Urban Meyer’s tumultuous tenure that included missteps at every turn. Owner Shad Khan fired Meyer on Dec. 16, three days after he said he wasn’t going to make a decision based on “helter-skelter” emotion.
Khan and general manager Trent Baalke are scheduled to handle the pending interviews together. Many thought Khan would move on from Baalke, who reportedly clashed with every coach he worked with in San Francisco (2011-16) and has done little to make the Jaguars better in his two years with the organization.
The Jaguars (2-13) have lost 28 of 31 games since Baalke joined the franchise’s front office, first as director of player personnel in 2020 and then getting promoted to general manager to work alongside Meyer this year.
Baalke’s only draft picks who have done much this season are quarterback Trevor Lawrence, the easiest pick in franchise history, and second-round cornerback Tyson Campbell. Baalke’s free-agent class was filled mostly with “value signings” who have been marginally better, if at all, than their predecessors.
Jacksonville plays at New England (9-6) on Sunday. The Jaguars are 0-8 there.
NFL reducing isolation time for players
The NFL is reducing isolation time for players who test positive for COVID-19 and are asymptomatic, including unvaccinated players, to five days from 10.
The league and the NFL Players Association revised the protocols after the CDC changed its guidelines for those who are asymptomatic, recommending a five-day isolation period and masking over the second five days.
The changes could allow Colts quarterback Carson Wentz to return for Sunday’s key game against Las Vegas after Indianapolis placed him on the reserve/COVID-19 list.
It was not immediately clear whether Wentz tested positive for the virus or was deemed a close contact to someone else who had tested positive. However, if Wentz has no symptoms, he could be cleared to play.
The Tennessee Titans, who can clinch the AFC South with either a win or a Colts’ loss, added two more in linebacker Jayon Brown and practice squad receiver Cody Hollister, who has played three of the past four games including one start. That brings the Titans’ total to nine, not counting a 10th player out for the season on injured reserve.
The timing couldn’t be worse for the Colts, who have rebounded from a 1-4 start to win eight of their past 10. They can clinch one of the seven AFC playoff spots with a win over the Raiders.
Indy’s move comes one day after five players including right tackle Braden Smith were added to a rapidly expanding COVID-19 list and less than 24 hours after coach Frank Reich was asked whether any additional precautions would be taken to protect Wentz.
“Yes, there has been with the team, as far as — really for every player,” Reich said. “So, we’ll have a plan for the whole team, a plan for certain individuals, Carson being one of them but not the only person. I don’t want to go into detail on every person we might do something a little extra with, but those things are being talked about.”
Wentz’s backup is rookie Sam Ehlinger, who has played in three games but has not thrown a pass this season. He was a sixth-round draft pick.
Veteran Brett Hundley and James Morgan are on Indy’s practice squad. Hundley has gone 3-6 as a starter during his NFL career.