Sam Kouvaris commentary: GM search and beyond

By Sam Kouvaris, Sports director, skouvari@wjxt.com
Published On: Dec 31 2012 09:51:49 AM EST
Updated On: Jan 03 2013 08:59:14 PM EST
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Jaguars owner Shahid Khan, Jaguars head coach Mike Mularkey and Jaguars general manager Gene Smith at Mularkey's introductory news conference.

JACKSONVILLE, FLa. -

While we don’t know what Shad Khan will do with this team, we do know that he’ll do something. Khan’s personality doesn’t allow him to stand pat.

He’s been prudent, he’s assessed the situation and he’s made the first change he thinks is appropriate. Removing Gene Smith as the General Manager is the beginning of Khan’s stamp on the football side of the team. He’s already remade the business side of the Jaguars, naming Mark Lamping as president, with some success. He’s watched what happened on the football side for a year and now is making a move.

Khan has some friends in the league, some other owners he’ll take advice from and he’ll look at what he has and what his options are and make a move. And while he’s a kind and compassionate man, he doesn’t like failure.

“Our fans have been truly outstanding,” Khan said in a statement announcing Smith’s termination. “We have to do the best thing for them.”

?Gene Smith is a good guy and is an original Jaguar employee. But as the GM it’s been difficult for him to gain any traction with his high profile picks and free-agent acquisitions. A couple of reaches in the early rounds that didn’t pan out, some bad decisions combined with some bad breaks and injuries lead to a 22-42 record during his tenure as GM.

Khan likes to quote Einstein, saying, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.” Looking for a new GM is the first step in doing something different.

Smith is well respected around the league and was given free reign by Khan to select Mike Mularkey as the head coach. Smith won’t have difficulty finding a job in the league. He’s always said he’s a “scout at heart,” and no doubt will continue to be one. Khan says they’ll honor the last two years of his current contract.

“Our organization’s business unit had an extremely impressive year and I anticipate even better days ahead in 2013 and beyond, but we all understand this is a football business above all else,” Khan said in his statement. “With that, I’m determined to find the right man to lead our football operations, someone who shares my vision, understands the commitment we will demand, and is qualified and ready to seize this opportunity. That search begins today.”

?Obviously if you make a change you have a chance to upgrade and that’s what Khan will hope to do. Reports that font office personnel in San Francisco and St. Louis are the leading candidates for the Jaguars GM job are sourced out of those cities, not the Jaguars organization. Khan is tight lipped about what he’s going to do and doesn’t have a track record to look back on.

Wayne Weaver was loyal to a fault and it cost the organization a few productive years. Khan isn’t encumbered by those relationships built over years and will make some business decisions based on what he thinks the best course of action is to win games. Period.

?As for Head Coach Mike Mularkey, he should get a chance to work with a team that has a bit more talent than the Jaguars did in 2012. He knew they’d “take our lumps” as he said many times in the preseason but there’s no way he could anticipate the number of key injuries the team had along the way. Once Khan decides on a new GM, he’ll probably be given the leeway to either keep Mularkey and the staff or hire his “own guy.”

Remember, Mularkey left Buffalo after Marv Levy was brought in as the GM.

Mike didn’t like the decision making process with Levy in charge and after two years, resigned. So it’ll have to be a good fit both ways, even if that’s what happens. Mularkey is also well liked and well respected around the league so it’s not a slam-dunk that he’ll be gone. I think he should stay with some tweaks on the staff but he’s certainly capable of creating a winning atmosphere. He just needs some better players to help get the job done.

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