It’s like a flood of positive feelings hitting Jacksonville (or so I imagine from my home in the lofty mountains of Montana). Shahid Khan, the soon-to-be owner of the Jaguars, is showing his support for the team and quietly learning the ropes of owning an NFL team. Beyond that, he marks the transition to more success better than the hiring of a new coach, GM, or franchise quarterback ever could.
No offense to the Weavers, Wayne has done a wonderful job during his run as owner of the Jags, but the change that is developing with the departure of Jack Del Rio is solidified with Shahid Khan. The enthusiasm he brings to the table (and a brilliant smile with a matching brilliant mustache) counterbalances the calm calculation-ism of Gene Smith. His smile is the anti-thesis of the Jack Del Rio scowl. His energy is something that, to be honest, always read as franticness on Wayne Weaver’s face (at least for me). Khan is here, and he’s making believers in Jacksonville already.
Last week in What’s Next, I called for the beginning of the Jacksonville Era. Six days later, Jack Del Rio was fired and the team sold. We’ve been promised a continued presence in Jacksonville. With these moves, a new era is beginning. While the coaching search is just now beginning and won’t be finished for some time, it’s hard to imagine things won’t be going up. Call me overly sensitive, but the good vibes coming out of Jacksonville are about as positive as any I’ve been around.
Often times, transition periods are marred with conflicting visions and unyielding opinions that generate problems. But I’m not seeing that out of the characters assembled in Jacksonville. Gene Smith knows what needs to be done, he knows how he needs to solve the problems in the roster, and he knows that a new coach that gels with him, the players, and Khan will go a long way toward winning. Khan knows that enthusiasm is crucial to a franchise trying to reinvent itself. But beyond that, he knows how to work hard, and how to translate that hard work into winning.
So, can we do it? Yes. Yes we Khan. It’s becoming a rallying cry for the fans. Giving a solid foundation for the future. Unlike many team presidents and owners, Khan has already begun to establish himself as a notable fixture in the Jacksonville landscape. By expressing “In Gene We Trust” and “Yes We Khan” the fans are not just spouting words that sound good together. They’re showing their support for the change that Jacksonville has going forward. Our roster is good and getting better. Now we have a coach eager to leave his mark. All we need is someone to get us there. Someone with a scheme to come out ahead no matter who lines up opposite the Jags on Sunday. Will he be an offensive mastermind or a defensive guru? Will he value special teams? Will he be a players’ coach or sit at the top of an ivory tower? We don’t know. But with Shahid Khan and Gene Smith in control, I’m going to smile every time the Jags hit the field. I’m going to watch the young players develop and look toward who earns a roster spot. And I’m going to eagerly note which coaches are approached and which show interest.
Until then, it’s the Gene Smith/Shahid Khan/Mel Tucker show in Jacksonville. Will we win on Sunday? Perhaps. But no matter what, I’ll be looking forward knowing that in the future, yes we Khan.
- Luke N. Sims