Khan on Jaguars: No illusion on rebuild

March, 20, 2013
3/20/13
4:55
PM ET
Shad Khan is generally careful not to be too harsh about the term of former general manager Gene Smith.

When Khan bought the team late in the 2011 season from Wayne Weaver, he inherited a GM who had just gotten his contract extended, and he stuck with Smith through 2012.

He made his biggest statement about Smith when he fired him after the season ended, ultimately replacing him with Dave Caldwell and allowing Caldwell to part ways with coach Mike Mularkey and replace him with Gus Bradley.

In a new interview with Forbes, Khan tells Brian Solomon the old regime had an inflated feel of how close the Jaguars were to winning -- something Khan’s talked about before.
“When I got there, there were two sides, business and football. Business I understand. It was pretty obvious to me what we had to do. But the football side was like the Holy Grail. They had the ‘secret recipe’ here and the self-analysis of the team was that we were pretty good, that we were just a little bit away from the playoffs and if we just get some free agents signed up, we’ll be in great shape. That’s why we ended up with the fourth-highest cash payroll last year. The result was self-evident. If you are honest with yourself and the team and the fans, there’s only one thing to do when it’s 2-14. When it’s 8-8 you can be conflicted as to how much baby and how much bathwater there is, but here there was no baby -- it was just water.”

A few other items of note out of an interesting piece:
  • Khan is not massaging the status of the team right now: “This is rebuilding, rebuilding from the ground up. There’s no illusion about that. This is about as clean and intense a rebuild as you’re going to have.”
  • He indicated that GM Dave Caldwell working closely in concert with coach Gus Bradley is important to him as it seemed Smith and coach Jack Del Rio were practically on opposite sides of the stadium and there were a lot of closed doors.
  • Bradley’s open mindedness is one of his most attractive qualities: “He has a really keen mind learning about people. Frankly, that’s in stark comparison to the guys who say, ‘We’ve been in football for X number of years and we know how to do it.’ One of the things that’s exciting is the dynamic change that goes on in this sport. It’s a key attribute that you have to learn and change, no matter how successful you are. I see that with some of the other people who have a lot of success in football.”
  • He said the experience of the 2-14 season with an inherited GM and a coach he hired was good, even though it was expensive, because of all it allowed him to learn.

Paul Kuharsky | email

ESPN Tennessee Titans reporter

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