Mike Smith emerging as “top guy” in Jacksonville search

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At a time when most coaching searches are skewing toward young offensive minds, the Jaguars may end up hiring a defensive coordinator who previously served as head coach of the Falcons.

Amid plenty of chatter that Buccaneers defensive coordinator Mike Smith could be the next coach of the Jags, one league source tells PFT that Smith currently is the “top guy” in the search.

Fueling Smith’s candidacy is the reality that Smith served as coach of the Falcons when Jaguars G.M. Dave Caldwell worked as the director of college scouting and, in 2012, the director of player personnel in Atlanta.

During each of Caldwell’s five years with the Falcons, Smith led the team to a winning record, culminating in an NFC title-game appearance. So while Smith’s star fell quickly in the two years after Caldwell had left, Caldwell’s full memories of his five years with the Falcons include working with a coach who, every single season, won more games than he lost.

In the four seasons since then for Caldwell, it’s been the other extreme, with Gus Bradley going 14-48 before being fired late in the 2016 season.

The attraction to Smith, then, is obvious. And Smith is by far the safest choice from the perspective of the guy leading the search, since Caldwell already knows Smith far better than any other candidate, making the move to hire Smith a much lower risk than it would be with any of the other people who have been interviewed for the job.

46 responses to “Mike Smith emerging as “top guy” in Jacksonville search

  1. Mike Smith is not a head coach. What a bad choice if this is true. Hard Knocks proved this. Wow.

  2. Smitty was the Jag’s DC before he became the Falcon’s HC and did a great job.
    Frankly I would be delighted if they hired him and he could get the team competitive again.

  3. He may have led those Falcons teams to winning records, but that team always seemed to underachieve. Sometimes safe choices are bad choices.

  4. Not a sexy pick, but a good pick nonetheless. I am really curious what happened with Tom Coughlin.

  5. Good coach but his teams always let their foot off the gas. Led SF in the conference title game 17-0 at home and still lost. Happened a lot during his time in Atlanta.

  6. It also helps when you have Matt Ryan (who has been above average during his career) and Blake Bortles in year three has proven to be mediocre at best.

    The good thing for Mike Smith (or whoever gets the job) is that they are working in the AFC South, where you have the Brick Osweiler Texans, the Pagano-Colts defensive juggernaut, and an slowly improving Tennessee Titans. An 8-8 or 9-7 finish is not out of the question any given year.

  7. Why do these articles almost never mention that Smith was JAX DC in the past? As a fan I didn’t want to see Del Rio go but would’ve liked to see Smith take over as HC as they always had a defense you could hang your hat on during his time in my opinion.

  8. Yes, good choice. Now go get Mike McCoy for OC and keep Todd Wash at DC.

    Marrone is a good second choice too if MD doesn’t happen. Get it done, Jags.

  9. Its probably the best they can hope to get other than taking a total gamble on a unknown young guy with limited experience.

    Mike Smith is competent which would be a step up.

  10. After the Bradley disaster, Smith would be the type of experienced coach that this franchise needs.

    But he would have to find an experienced OC for the young talent on offense.

  11. As a Titans fan, I hate to say this, but Mike Smith would be the best coach the Jags have had since Coughlin departed. … And he may even have more success than him.

  12. Is he a quarterback whisperer? Because Bortles needs one badly or this will be like Smith, Mularky and Blaine and all 3 will be gone in a year…

  13. Kinda figured he’d get another shot at HC someday. His stint in Atlanta ended badly but for awhile he had everything going pretty well for them.

  14. When your hire will make or break your job; maybe you go for a double and not a home run.

    If the Jags improve to .500 or even (gulp) playoffs next year; Caldwell will get his extension.

  15. Hate to lose Mike Smith. I think he deserves one more shot at HC, however he could be one of those guys that’s a good DC but not a good HC. According to most Falcons fans that is the case.

  16. If the Jags most pressing goal is to continue to develop and get the most out of Blake Bortles, as well as make a decision on whether or not he’s the future at that position for them, then it would seem that a good offensive-oriented coach with a track record of working well with QB’s might be their top choice?
    That new HC could then hire his own DC to get the most out of the good defensive players on their roster.
    Mike Smith might be a ‘safe’ choice for the GM there, but would he be the right one to get the most from Bortles?

  17. Guy should get another shot at it. He was hung out to dry by Dimitroff with some pretty poor personnel moves, especially on defense, and he’d make something out of nothing anyway. Also, as Falcon fans will find out again next weekend, Matt Ryan just isn’t the type of QB that can cover things up once you get to the playoffs. He’d need a stacked roster on both sides of the ball imo to win it all.

  18. If you have the chops to take your team from worst to first … and keep them in the playoffs (granted the record was poor at that level), then you are an NFL caliber head coach.

    I’d be thrilled if he was our guy in Jax. Lord knows we need some experience on the winning side of the ball … unless you’re the Titans, because we just murdered you and your playoff chance.

  19. So who will be the token Rooney rule candidate? Aren’t they considered racist for even mentioning a white head coach first?

  20. This guy is a complete joke – he is the ultimate sock in the crotch guy who looks impressive when you just look at the surface but when he is pressed to reveal the real thing, he’s all fraud and no substance.

    Gaudy regular seasons disappear into embarrassment with this clown – but that might be an improvement for a team with so little success when no coached by a corpse.

  21. Mike needs to stay in Tampa for at least another year. Get in the playoffs or get a Superbowl ring first. Wait for a better team to go to. Jacksonville is just Cleveland in the south.

  22. Mike Smith? The guy who barely got anything out of the soon-to-be-NFL-MVP in Atlanta? Last two seasons as a head coach: 10-22

    Good luck with all that.

    Letting fear make their decisions for them – Jacksonville being Jacksonville.

  23. laserw says:
    Jan 9, 2017 11:07 AM
    This guy is a complete joke – he is the ultimate sock in the crotch guy who looks impressive when you just look at the surface but when he is pressed to reveal the real thing, he’s all fraud and no substance.

    Gaudy regular seasons disappear into embarrassment with this clown – but that might be an improvement for a team with so little success when no coached by a corpse.

    Good God man relax, it’s not that serious. You act like he committed a war crime. You need more stuff going on in your life

  24. This has to be the ultimate recycle story. Maybe add Rob Ryan as DC and Norv (I quit) Turner as OC. And just for the heck of it Gus Bradley as Special teams Coordinator.

  25. Mike Smith, the guy who didn’t have the guts to finish the season. Get him Jags, then watch him run off in the middle of the night like a scared little girl.

  26. The beginning of the end for Smitty in ATL was when the Falcons brain-trust decided they needed to be more explosive on offense after losing a shoot-out to GB in the playoffs. They moved away from his preferred power run ball control offense and mortgaged the future for Julio Jones in the next draft. While Julio now looks like a possible HOFer, ATL’s depth was definitely thin for a few years as result of the deal that landed him. After a couple of shallow drafts and running an offensive system that wasn’t his first choice, suddenly Smith was a bad coach.

  27. Smitty lost his fire in his final two seasons in Atlanta. It was obvious. You could see it on his face and with his body language on the sidelines, you could even see it during training camp. I don’t understand why nine years after he first became a head coach at 47 Smitty at 56 is gonna be more passionate and energized. The team will like him, but he’s not an innovator or good game manager. 8 – 8 might indeed happen for the Jags, though.

  28. Other than Jimmy Johnson has any 1st time NFL coach won a SB at his first HC job?
    Almost all had to wait for their 2nd or 3rd time as a HC.

  29. I thought Coughlin was a lock, and all they were waiting on was the minority interview charade.

  30. Some of you people knocking him do know he worked for the Falcons right? The team that had never had back-to-back winning seasons before he got there, and he took teams with okay talent not just to the playoffs but to the #1 seed and things of the like. At some point, he got stale there (kind of funny because John Harbaugh has been to the playoffs exactly once since he got fired and they were in the same rookie HC class, only difference being he won the Super Bowl and thus is seen in a different light). I don’t recall one of those playoff games that he lost where I look back and say yeah, I didn’t expect them to lose. Even that one they did win when they beat Seattle, I expected them to lose because that team wasn’t that good personnel wise on defense, and Matt Ryan has proven that when the competition steps up, he doesn’t get the job done. Name me one time when Dimitroff gave him players the caliber of Beasley and Deion Jones to work with on defense. I’ll wait. Oh, and for the guy saying he didn’t get enough out of Ryan, his staff just kind of devloped him and won with him day one. Not exactly the easiest thing in the world to do.

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