General manager Trent Baalke earned a reputation as someone who's difficult to work with and meddled too much during his stint with the San Francisco 49ers in the 2010s. It looks like things haven't changed much now that he's with the Jacksonville Jaguars, based on a recent report by Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated.
Breer answered questions from fans in a recent mailbag. One inquiry pertained to Baalke, who doesn't seem too pleased with the Press Taylor's performance as the offensive coordinator.
"Richard, it's funny you ask because there was at least some buzz the past few weeks of the season that the Jacksonville Jaguars' front office, led by Baalke was looking hard at where the offense is under Taylor. And if you remember, Pederson's loyalty to his coaches is what, in the end, wound up leading to his firing with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Obviously, there will be staff changes on offense, and now they're looking for a new defensive coordinator. But it's certainly worth paying attention to where this goes next because the Jags have a lot invested in Trevor Lawrence. And if he doesn't break through in his fourth year, it's fair to think bigger-picture questions are asked."
Press Taylor was Doug Pederson's handpicked choice for offensive coordinator when he became the head coach in 2022. Taylor was part of Pederson's staff when he was with the Philadelphia Eagles. Following the 2020 season, Pederson wanted to make Taylor his offensive coordinator but owner Jeffrey Lurie didn't approve, so he walked away.
In Taylor's first year with the Jaguars, the offense ranked 10th in points scored. He became the play-caller full-time before the start of the 2023 season. All things considered, it was a mixed bag. While Jacksonville had several encouraging outings with Taylor calling the shots, they were also inconsistent at times. Miscommunication, drops, and unnecessary penalties frequently hindered the offense.
The fact that Taylor's scheme was far from imaginative didn't help matters. Similarly, he made a minimal effort to get the running game going in the second half of the season, which in turn made the offense one-dimensional and put additional pressure on Trevor Lawrence to perform. Due to the regression, Taylor's performance and job came into question after the season ended. However, Doug Pederson believed he wasn't the reason the offense struggled, but rather drops and turnovers.
While the Jags dismissed Mike Caldwell and most of the defensive staff, Pederson kept Taylor around, believing he's capable of turning things around in 2024. And he may be right. One of the reasons for the team's inability to move the ball was that Trent Baalke didn't make enough upgrades to the interior offensive line last offseason. Drafting right tackle Anton Harrison 27th overall proved to be the right call, but both guard positions and the center spot were neglected.
Baalke could've used a second or third-round pick to reinforce the offensive trenches but instead opted to select a pair of players who barely got any playing time as rookies. As the season progressed, Baalke traded for left guard Ezra Cleveland, but that was a little too late. By then, the position had become a weakness and one of the reasons the Jags couldn't get the running game going and Trevor Lawrence didn't have enough time to throw.
Jaguars GM Trent Baalke needs to stop worrying about Press Taylor and do his job
Press Taylor can most definitely do a better job as the play-caller. He must also make sure his players are in a position to succeed, by ensuring they're sharp in practice, something that didn't seem to always be the case last year. That said, Trent Baalke cannot worry about Taylor when he himself failed to do his job last year. He certainly had a few hits, the biggest one was arguably drafting Anton Harrison. On the other hand, he failed to replenish a handful of position groups.
Former 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh held no punches for describing his dynamic with Baalke, noting that he had a penchant for micromanaging and going as far as saying that he couldn't even blow a small balloon. Based on Albert Bree's report, it looks like something similar is happening in Jacksonville. Then again, it doesn't have to end like it did in San Francisco.
Owner Shad Khan has to remind Baalke that his job is to acquire good players — something he failed to accomplish last year — not worry about what the coaching staff is doing. It's too early in the offseason to be surrounded by drama. If the Jaguars don't do anything right now, the situation could linger into the regular season, something that could hurt their chances of returning to the playoffs in 2023.
Albert Breer's tension paints a picture of dysfunction brewing behind the scenes. That's the last thing the Jaguars they want, so they move better fast if they want to avoid full-scale disaster.