In his five years as an owner, Shad Khan has transformed the Jacksonville Jaguars franchise off the field.
He updated the stadium with a lot of bells and whistles, including the world’s largest video boards and two swimming pools. He also built the Daily’s Place concert venue and has boosted the team’s revenue by playing a game in London every year.
Most of all, Khan ended all the talk about the Jaguars moving.
Off the field, though, Khan has yet to find a winning formula and has had five straight losing seasons.
He hired Dave Caldwell as the general manager in 2013 after firing Gene Smith, and Caldwell came in with the idea of starting over and even getting rid of players like Daryl Smith (who could still play). Oh, and not spending big on free agency in the first year or two.
The idea was to build through the draft, but none of the players from Caldwell’s first draft are still on the team. And he whiffed on quarterback Blake Bortles with his first pick in 2014, so Khan decided to demote Caldwell in January and bring in Tom Coughlin to run the team. Coughlin took the Jaguars to four straight playoff appearances as an expansion team and won two Super Bowls as a coach with the Giants.
But Coughlin is off to a slow start as the Jaguars boss. He traded for left tackle Brandon Albert, who skipped the offseason program, showed up for camp and then retired before trying to unretire. He was finally cut. And Coughlin decided to keep Bortles, who was benched for the third preseason game for veteran Chad Hanne, and didn’t bring in a quarterback to challenge him.
The quarterback situation led to Khan being bashed by Spike Lee on CNN for not signing Colin Kaepernick. Lee also led a protest at NFL headquarters that reportedly drew 1,000 demonstrators.
Lee said that Khan was “in cahoots’’ with the other NFL owners in refusing to sign Kaepernick and noted Khan was one of four owners to donate $1 million to President Trump’s inauguration fund.
It’s uncertain there is a tie between the Trump contribution and the Jaguars’ decision not to sign Kaepernick.
There has been much speculation the Jaguars wouldn’t sign him because Jacksonville is a military town and his anthem protests would alienate many fans. Khan told a radio host before the Thursday night game that he would be “absolutely” okay with signing Kaepernick, an indication it was Coughlin’s decision not to sign the quarterback.
But since the Jaguars didn’t pursue any other quarterback in the offseason, it’s likely that Coughlin simply made a miscalculation and thought Bortles would be the answer.
Coughlin even picked up Bortles’ fifth-year option for $19 million, and now the Jaguars will be on the hook for that money if he is injured. If they hadn’t picked up the option, it would have cost $23 million to keep him, so the Jaguars thought they were saving $4 million. It was another mistake.
As far as the Trump connection, Khan told the Florida Times-Union in February that he was a hardcore Republican and likes Trump’s economic policies but criticized Trump’s travel ban. That isn’t surprising, since Khan came to the U.S. as a 16-year-old immigrant from Pakistan to attend college at Illinois.
Khan also said Trump would moderate some of the stances he took on the campaign trail. That prediction is working out about as well as the Jaguars on the field under Khan’s ownership.