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Jaguars’ Khan sees ‘hope, optimism’ after years of failure

It’s straightforward to see proprietor Shad Khan’s pleasure and enthusiasm for the Jacksonville Jaguars lately. He’s smiling, cracking jokes, taking refined pictures at his earlier coach/basic supervisor regime.

It’s undoubtedly one of the perfect weeks of his 10-year tenure, proper up there with taking part in within the AFC championship sport in January 2018.

“It’s unbelievable,” Khan stated Tuesday, two days earlier than Jacksonville is ready to pick Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence with the primary decide within the NFL draft. “If this isn’t a moment to enjoy for me and for all the Jags fans, you need more coffee or you need something else. This is a great-to-be-alive kind of moment, frankly.”

Khan is downright giddy realizing the Jaguars will land Lawrence, extensively thought of the perfect quarterback prospect since Andrew Luck in 2012. Khan was a wide-eyed NFL proprietor again then, with little greater than a notion about how the league labored.

He’s since realized sufficient that he saved coach Doug Marrone and basic supervisor Dave Caldwell in place an additional 12 months in 2020 to have them clear up their mess. That choice, which got here shortly after Khan fired prime government Tom Coughlin, was the second he felt he was “ready to take the training wheels off.”

He employed Urban Meyer to exchange them, bringing in a single of essentially the most adorned coaches in school soccer historical past and giving him full reign to alter something and the whole lot he desires inside the group.

“Nine years ago, buying the team, it was like the great journey, the first step on a 1,000-mile journey and looking to the horizon,” Khan stated. “And what it is now? We’ve been through ups and downs, mostly downs, and now you’re looking at a great upside.”

Although Khan declined to tip the plain prime decide, he didn’t balk at and even attempt to deflect any questions that talked about Lawrence by title or alluded to him as the selection.

“We’re looking at hope, optimism,” he stated. “I want to enjoy the moment. I want all the fans, all of us in Jacksonville, to enjoy this moment and our time in the national spotlight. If we have hope and we’re winning, obviously, that’s a lot better for the city and it’s a lot better for the Jags.”

The staff went 41-106 in Khan’s first 9 years, together with 2-1 in its one playoff 12 months. The proprietor has endured eight seasons with double-digit losses whereas failing repeatedly to discover a franchise quarterback. The Jaguars gave Blaine Gabbert, Chad Henne, Blake Bortles, Cody Kessler, Nick Foles, Gardner Minshew, Jake Luton and Mike Glennon possibilities throughout Khan’s tenure.

“It’s that one player (who) is the hardest thing to (find),” he stated.

The Jaguars are relying on Lawrence solving a decades-old problem for the small-market franchise. Lawrence comes off a stellar college career at Clemson, going 34-2 as the starter and leading the Tigers to three Atlantic Coast Conference titles and the 2018 national championship.

He completed 66% of his passes for 10,098 yards, with 90 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. Lawrence also ran for 18 scores.

He finished second in Heisman Trophy balloting to Alabama receiver DeVonta Smith last season. Lawrence threw for 3,153 yards, 24 touchdowns and five interceptions while missing two games after testing positive for COVID-19 in October.

He’s expected to be the face of Jacksonville’s franchise, along with Meyer, for the foreseeable future.

Khan sat in on several video calls involving prospective quarterbacks in recent weeks, including at least one with Lawrence. The owner, who plans to be more involved with decision making than during previous regimes, also has been on hand for a few mock drafts.

He insists this draft will be different from previous ones in Jacksonville that “still had surprises in the draft room.”

No one will be shocked when Jacksonville takes Lawrence, who will step into an immediate leadership role on a team still trying to make sense of all Meyer’s methodologies. Even Khan is learning more and more about them every day.

“The coaches have to have accountability if the players aren’t developing,” Khan said. “I think that sense of accountability is really kind of refreshing. You do that in normal walks of life. … We’ve always said, ‘Well, everything is about talent.’

“Well, if they don’t have the psyche to blend into the team, it’s not a good thing. And then if the coaches aren’t developing them, then we’re going to have what we have had.”


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