JACKSONVILLE | Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan plans to keep adding resources “until we have a breakthrough.”
The billionaire businessman spoke Wednesday at Jacksonville’s state of the franchise address, expressing frustration about the team’s lack of success in his five seasons. The Jaguars are a league-worst 17-63 during his tenure. They have scored the fewest points (1,445) in the NFL in those five years and allowed the most (2,153), a staggering stretch of futility on both sides of the ball.
Khan fired coach Mike Mularkey and general manager Gene Smith after his first season and parted ways with coach Gus Bradley in November after the latest lackluster campaign.
He hired former Jaguars and New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin to oversee football operations and Doug Marrone as head coach. He retained general manager Dave Caldwell, although with diminished power.
“I do want to be clear that I remain extremely unsatisfied with our performance of last year, and our disappointment predates the 2016 season,” Khan said. “That’s why you see Tom Coughlin here and Doug Marrone is our head coach.”
Khan has poured money into the franchise, including $75 million to help the city upgrade amenities in and around the stadium. He’s spent more in free agency than anyone in the league the last three years, handing out $488.4 million in contracts that included $183.6 million guaranteed.
Do the math: That’s $16.7 million per win (11) in that span, hardly the kind of return on investment Khan anticipated.
“My expectations most of my life, it’s like, I’m going to roll up my sleeves and I’m going to do it myself. OK, unfortunately you can’t do that with football,” Khan said. “I think we put everything in place and I’m really, really excited with Tom and Doug and Dave to really have more football IQ in the building, so to speak, and we want to add more brainpower from that viewpoint, which can figure out, evaluate the players, the schemes, to help us win.
“So, what I can do is keep trying and adding more resources until we have a breakthrough.”
Khan and the Jaguars have the third-most space under the salary cap (about $79 million) entering free agency today, and Khan is prepared to dole out even more cash.
Jacksonville is expected to make significant offers to several top free agents, including Houston cornerback A.J. Bouye, Arizona defensive end Calais Campbell and Cincinnati guard Kevin Zeitler.
“Hopefully they will deliver,” Khan said. “After a few years, that’s the expectation: That they will fight for Jacksonville and win for the Jaguars.”
Here are other items of note from the state of the franchise address:
n Team president Mark Lamping said local revenue, considered a key part of franchise stability, is up 8.6 percent.
The Jaguars remain 25th in the NFL in local revenue, and Lamping said teams in the top half of the league in local revenue average 1.3 more wins a year and are 50 percent more likely to make the playoffs.
“We’re making progress, but we need to make more progress and we need to make it faster,” Lamping said. “We have to continue to find new and different ways to go about our business.”
n Playing annually in London remains a significant part of the team’s local revenue, but that figure dropped from 12.4 percent in 2015 to 11.1 percent last year. Lamping blamed the decrease on the pound-to-dollar exchange rate.
n The Jaguars are getting close to finishing a $90 million upgrade that includes a new indoor practice facility adjacent to EverBank Field and a 5,000-seat amphitheater. The amphitheater is schedule to open Memorial Day weekend, and the practice facility will be done six weeks later.
n Khan plans to bid on the 2019 NFL Draft, believing the new facility project will boost the team’s chances of hosting a big event.
“I’m of the opinion that the draft should be in places that are not Super Bowl eligible,” Khan said. “NFL has great assets and the draft is one of those. If a city isn’t going to be bidding on a Super Bowl now or in the future, that’s where it ought to go so the wealth of the NFL is shared equally. We would have, and I think if you look at the flex field and amphitheater, it’s going to be a great venue.”
n The Jaguars also submitted a proposal to the city to develop the neighboring shipyards, a billion-dollar project that would take more than five years to complete.
The team’s proposal includes parks, marinas, a shopping district, food and entertainment venues, and a luxury hotel and spa.
“Whatever is good for Jacksonville is good for the Jaguars,” Khan said. “That is the connection here. You can’t have a viable city without a vibrant downtown. I think everybody gets that. That’s a simple point. In the five years I’ve been here, it’s, well, downtown is dying. … This should be real change and this is going to bring Jacksonville back to life downtown.”