In this sneak preview from the upcoming April issue of Bear Report, John Crist explores the reasons…
Jags Staff Is Set
The contracts of the team's assistant coaches expire at the end of this season, but they are not be allowed to interview for lateral jobs in the NFL.
The result is now they have had three quarterback coaches since the end of the season.
First, the Jaguars lost quarterbacks coach Mike Shula to Carolina. He was free to leave because his contract had expired.
And this week, Todd Monken, who had moved from the receivers coach position to the quarterbacks coach position, left for Oklahoma State where he will be the offensive coordinator with more job security.
He had previously been denied the opportunity to interview with the Dallas Cowboys. So had linebacker coach Mark Duffner.
They then hired Mike Sheppard, who had served the last four years as the wide receivers coach of the Cincinnati Bengals but had experience in the past in coaching quarterbacks.
And he was willing to take a one-year contract.
All the Jaguars' assistants have deals that expire at the end of this season.
Sheppard also had a connection with offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter because he was an assistant coach at Idaho State in 1980-81 when Koetter played there.
Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis also has coached at Idaho State and has a relationship with Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio when they both coached in Baltimore on the Ravens' 2000 Super Bowl team.
Sheppard is taking a risk because if the Jaguars don't make the playoffs, he will likely be looking for his third job in as many years.
Owner Wayne Weaver has indicated that if Del Rio doesn't make the playoffs, he will be fired at the end of the season. He has won only one playoff game in his first eight seasons and is just one of two coaches in the history of the NFL who has failed to win a division title in his first eight seasons with a team.
Del Rio declined to make Sheppard available for an interview, but Sheppard has coached quarterbacks in the league for the Saints from 2002-2004 and for Seattle n 1999 and 2000.
In joining the Jaguars, he will have the task of improving the skills of David Garrard, who is still trying to live up to the 2007 season when he had 18 touchdown passes and just three interceptions.
The highlight of that season was the fact the Jaguars became the first team to win twice in Pittsburgh in the same year, including the team's only playoff win since they routed Miami, 62-7, in the last game for Dan Marino and coach Jimmy Johnson.
That year earned Garrard a $60 million contract extension but they haven't had a winning season since.
Then there's also the question of whether the morale problem on the coaching staff will have an effect on the team.
Although none of the coaches have spoken out publicly, sources say they are frustrated that they were being denied permission to interview for lateral jobs that would bring them more security when they know they'll probably be fired at the end of the year if they don't make the playoffs.
They also were already frustrated when the Jaguars became one of 11 teams to end the defined benefit program.
And then there is the complication that the labor strife makes it uncertain what kind of a season the team will have.
There are a lot of questions for the Jaguars entering this season and few answers.
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