Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan, a rookie to the NFL, will have a big decision to make at the end of the 2012 season. Will he keep GM Gene Smith or will he not?
The Jaguars are having an historically bad season. The team is at an all time worst start of 2-12 and it looks like the team will probably do worse than its inaugural 4-12 season. This has been a reflection of poor talent acquisition. Sure, there have been injuries, but where good teams succeed and where bad teams continue to falter is at depth. The Jaguars’ depth is among the worst in the league. Personnel has been a terrible part of the Jaguars. Is that enough to remove Smith?
If you are a Jaguars fan then yes, it is more than enough to get rid of the general manager. But how does the owner see it? Khan has been very quiet about his business decisions since taking control of the Jaguars earlier this year. He has not said that he wants to remove Smith and he has not said that he wants to retain him. But he has said that he wants a winner.
To me, this entire situation comes down to how you frame the issue.
Is this year two or year four of rebuilding for the Jaguars. Was 2010 supposed to be an AFC Championship season or was it supposed to be just one more step toward down-the-road success for Jacksonville. If Smith and/or other people in the front office convince Khan that this is really just year two (since taking Blaine Gabbert in the 2011 NFL Draft) of the rebuild, then I think that Khan may continue with Smith. Here is where Khan’s inexperience as an NFL owner comes into play. He is subject to the expertise of others.
Keeping Smith after his predecessor extended him may be Khan’s greatest fault. Rather than trying to organize his own team, he decided to continue with what he saw as either a positive momentum or a good baseline on which to base future decisions. If it was positive momentum that he saw, then it is pretty apparent that the momentum has come to an end. If it is a baseline on which to base decisions then Khan needs to figure out if he now knows enough to hire someone better or if he is still unsure and wants to learn more under the mediocre GM he currently has.
As apparent as it is to us Jags fans that Smith has failed to provide talent that is good enough for the team to succeed, it may not be the right time for Khan to walk away. Everyone wants to win now, but Khan’s approach to things is more big picture than anything else. Taking a small step and increasing the market share of Flex-N-Gate one small deal at a time has provided dividends for Khan in the past. He is a big picture man that wants to do things right. I wouldn’t expect a big move from Khan yet, but this is the NFL and big moves are frequently needed.
- Luke N. Sims
You can also find me on Twitter @LukeNSims