Interim coach Mel Tucker, who will make his head coaching debut Monday night against San Diego, wasted no time in putting his stamp on the team.
Attempting to fix the team's offensive problems, Tucker fired wide receivers coach Johnny Cox Wednesday and shifted Mike Sheppard from the job of quarterbacks coach to wide receivers coach. And offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter will coach the quarterbacks.
Cox got the job at the end of last year when Todd Monken left for Oklahoma State because owner Wayne Weaver refused to extend the assistant's contracts. Cox had been the quality control coach/offense the previous two seasons.
And Sheppard was hired from Cincinnati where he coached the wide receivers to coach the quarterbacks because Mike Shula left for Carolina because Weaver was making all the assistants lame ducks.
Cox appeared to be over his head as a wide receivers' coach and the poor play of the receivers may have been due in part because they weren't getting good coaching.
And rookie Blaine Gabbert wasn't making much progress with Sheppard as his quarterbacks coach so Tucker is hoping Koetter will be more effective.
Jack Del Rio, who was fired as head coach Tuesday, didn't have a good pool of candidates to replace Monken and Shula because he could only offer them one-year contracts.
Even though Tucker also will continue serving as the defensive coordinator and will call the defensive plays, he is trying to fix the offense in his role as a head coach.
When he was named the interim head coach Tuesday, he said, "My expertise is defense. I know a good offense when I see it and so my big thing is I've always believed is allow people to do their job and empower people to go to work, give motivation to do what they do best and I feel like we have good coaches, good players. I'll be the offense's biggest support, special teams as well. We'll continue to do what we need to do on defense and together move forward and we'll get the thing done."
Despite his comment about having good coaches, his actions spoke louder than his words as he shook up the offensive staff.
Tucker has a lot riding on the last five games. If he finishes 4-1 or wins all five, he will strengthen his case to keep the head job. So far, he has only been promised an interview and Weaver said they will conduct an extensive search.
When Tucker was asked about his aspirations to get the head job, he said, "I'm always motivated to do the best than I can, and right now my focus is on these next five weeks starting with Monday night to do everything that I possibly can to get this team prepared to play. There's a certain brand of football that we need to show out there each and every week. It's relentless, attention to detail, it's high effort it's high energy, it's high impact.
"And those are things that we're going to work on. So in terms of my future as a head coach, that's for another day. Right now the focus is on this team and we're going to pour everything we have into our players to give these guys the best opportunity that we can to play winning football and the focus is going to stay there. Only time will tell what opportunities I will have in the future, but I am confident and comfortable where I am right now."
Over the next five weeks, he will find out if he has a future in Jacksonville.
Tucker Flexes His Muscles
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