Gene Frenette: For Byron Leftwich, wait for Jacksonville Jaguars coaching job goes on

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As midday Friday approached, there was still no resolution on the Jaguars’ coaching search or how much longer Byron Leftwich or any possible candidate might be kept waiting beyond the 30-day process since the first interview.

No matter when this wait ends that team owner Shad Khan has now pushed into excruciatingly-long territory — and if Leftwich becomes the head coach — it will have taken the former Jaguars’ quarterback longer to secure a coaching job with this franchise than the 2003 timeline of succeeding Mark Brunell as the starter.

Once Leftwich began his rookie NFL season in Jacksonville, the team’s No. 7 overall draft pick needed just three weeks to become the permanent starting quarterback. That decision was aided in part by an 0-3 start and Brunell dealing with an elbow injury, which prompted then-head coach Jack Del Rio to insert Leftwich starting in Week 4 against the Houston Texans. He would be the primary starter over David Garrard for the next three-plus seasons.

But the wait for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ offensive coordinator to possibly become the Jaguars’ head coach remained in limbo early Friday. It left the NFL world to wonder if the Jaguars’ wacky coaching search would end with Leftwich being given a job many believed he was on the cusp of landing Wednesday and Thursday.

Gene Frenette: Shad Khan, Jaguars can't afford to wait to lock up Byron Leftwich as coach

What Byron wants: Report: Byron Leftwich remains frontrunner for Jaguars HC job but wants front office changes

During the Jaguars' lengthy coaching search, Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich has waited longer to possibly become the team's next head coach than he did to take the starting job away from Mark Brunell as a rookie quarterback with the Jaguars.
During the Jaguars' lengthy coaching search, Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich has waited longer to possibly become the team's next head coach than he did to take the starting job away from Mark Brunell as a rookie quarterback with the Jaguars.

Trent Baalke seems to be keeping the Jaguars from their coaching favorites

There’s not much debate that Khan keeping Jaguars’ GM Trent Baalke in his position is a huge stumbling block for Leftwich and reportedly other candidates, including Nathaniel Hackett. The Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator was able to leverage a second interview with the Jaguars, which never took place, into pushing the Denver Broncos to sign him on Thursday as their head coach.

Leftwich has made it known he would like former All-Pro safety Adrian Wilson, the Arizona Cardinals’ Vice-President of Pro Personnel, to be the Jaguars’ general manager and not Baalke. And even if Khan consented, that presents another timing problem, because the NFL Rooney Rule has stipulated for the last two years that any GM vacancy requires teams to interview a minimum two external minority candidates.

Since Baalke is still the GM, and if Leftwich wants assurances before taking the job that Wilson or somebody else besides Baalke must occupy that position, it’s possible that may well be delaying a final decision. Or maybe the Jaguars wish to interview a candidate working in Sunday’s NFL conference championship games, though it has not been reported the team requested permission to speak to any of them.

Whatever happens, Leftwich, who also has interest from the New Orleans Saints for their vacancy, will adjust to every maddening development like the professional he has always been.

Clearly, he has had to be far more patient going through this Jaguars’ coaching search than he did winning a starting quarterback job nearly two decades ago with the same franchise. . . .

If the Jaguars hire Leftwich, he would become the ninth QB to start at least one game for an NFL team and go on to become its head coach during the Super Bowl era, according to Elias Sports Bureau. Ironically, the last one to do it was the Philadelphia Eagles’ Doug Pederson, the first candidate to interview for the Jaguars’ job.

The other seven quarterbacks to serve as future head coaches for the same franchise were Jason Garrett (Dallas Cowboys), Gary Kubiak (Denver Broncos), June Jones (Atlanta Falcons), Sam Wyche (Cincinnati Bengals), Tom Flores (Oakland Raiders), Kay Stephenson (Buffalo Bills) and Bart Starr (Green Bay Packers). Pederson, Kubiak and Flores each won Super Bowls as coaches. . . .

Here’s what the NFL should do about the overtime rule after the Buffalo Bills never touched the ball in the 39-36 AFC divisional loss to the Kansas City Chiefs: nothing. Other than maybe giving the team having first possession the ball at its own 15-yard line with no kickoff, let the OT possession rules stand. Nothing stopped the Bills’ defense run by Leslie Frazier from getting a turnover to help Buffalo win the game. . . .

It’s still mind-boggling to think the Jaguars held such an explosive Buffalo Bills offense to one trip into the red zone in a 9-6 upset win on November 7. Another irony is Buffalo receiver Gabriel Davis, who had four TD receptions in the AFC playoff loss to the Chiefs, dropped a short pass on the final Bills’ drive that would have given his team a first down just inside the Jaguars’ 30.

What Davis, a native of Fernandina Beach who attended Sanford Seminole High, did against the Chiefs wasn’t all that different from his final season at UCF. He exploded for 1,241 yards at 17.2 yards per catch, including five games in which he had multiple touchdowns. . . .

Josh McCown, Texans coaching candidate: But, why?

One head-scratching coach search is the Houston Texans appearing to have strong interest in Josh McCown, a former NFL quarterback who has only coached at the high school level. The only logical explanation is McCown is friends with team executive Jack Easterby, but more peculiar is why Houston has shown no interest in San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans, a former Texans linebacker. . . .

Regarding the Baseball Hall of Fame vote: I had no problem excluding Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens all these years because steroid users, including those found guilty of perjury by not admitting it, should have their selection delayed as some sort of penalty. Bonds and Clemens still have an avenue to get into Cooperstown through the Eras’ Committee, and if they eventually get in, that'd be fine and certainly appropriate they had to wait a long time to gain entry.

But before Bonds and Clemens get their Hall pass, the baseball gatekeepers should rectify a long-time wrong and put in “Shoeless” Joe Jackson. The Chicago White Sox outfielder hit the only home run in the entire eight-game 1919 World Series, led all hitters with a .375 average and was never proven that he threw the Series. . . .

Urban Meyer should just censure himself from speaking publicly about his Jaguars coaching tenure for the foreseeable future. Because the more he talks, as he did this past week on a Dan Dakich podcast, the more he engages in revisionist history and affirms how ill-prepared he was for the NFL. Sorry, Urban, but making statements like the Jaguars “at one point had the No. 1 defense in the league” — which technically, they might have only during Bills’ week – is a baffling claim.

Meyer should just write off his 11-month employment as a lesson in humility, move on and remain silent about the whole ordeal. At least he acknowledged it was the “worst experience I’ve had in my professional lifetime,” a sentiment reciprocated by a large majority of the team’s fan base, Jaguars players and those of us forced to watch Team Dysfunction. . . .

Despite a valiant effort Wednesday in a 78-71 loss to No. 18-ranked Tennessee, it’s becoming near impossible to see a path for the Florida Gators (12-8), especially with big man Colin Castleton still sidelined, to get into the NCAA tournament. ESPN bracketology expert Joe Lunardi currently has UF as his first team out of March Madness, which likely means the Gators losing Saturday at home to Big 12 opponent Oklahoma State would be a resume killer unless they pick up a quality win down the road. . . .

Pigskin forecast: Kansas City Chiefs over Cincinnati Bengals by 1 (more epic QB duel); Los Angeles Rams over San Francisco 49ers by 3 (Jalen Ramsey taunts). Last week: 1 right, 3 Buffalo Bills prevent defense alignments.

gfrenette@jacksonville.com: (904) 359-4540

This article originally appeared on Florida Times-Union: Byron Leftwich waited less to become Jaguars QB starter than coach