Before the Jacksonville Jaguars announced the hiring of Doug Pederson as their next head coach last month, there were multiple reports that Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich -- who was considered the frontrunner for the position -- wasn't interested in working alongside general manager Trent Baalke.
Although the rumors seemed realistic -- Leftwich wanted the Jaguars to hire Arizona Cardinals VP of pro personnel Adrian Wilson -- the franchise pivoted at the 11th hour, and elected to keep Baalke. Leftwich then removed himself from consideration for the head coaching job, and Pederson was left as one of the top candidates. But the rumored conversations about Baalke between Leftwich and the Jags didn't occur, according to team co-owner Tony Khan.
"He never said that once. That never came up in the conversations," Khan told The DA Show on Wednesday. "We met with Byron twice -- once on Zoom and once in-person -- and he was tremendous. He's a former Jags player, I have a ton of respect for Byron. I really like Byron a lot, that's why we went back and interviewed him a second time, made him a finalist. He never said any of that.
"I read that in the media, and there was even a person connected to it. And I thought it was all pretty unusual, the media kind of running wild with things. Because Byron never said any of that to us... Pederson was the first choice for the job... Doug was the person we really thought was the best, but we also interviewed a lot of great people."
Leftwich, who was the Jags' starting quarterback from 2003-06, has spent the past three seasons on the Bucs' coaching staff, and it appears that he'll remain their offensive coordinator in 2022. This past year, Tampa Bay ranked second in the NFL in both average points (30.1) and average yards (405.9), and recently retired legend Tom Brady threw for a career-high and NFL-best 5,316 yards with 43 touchdowns.
For the second consecutive year, the Jags are slated to make the first overall selection in the NFL Draft. With a 3-14 record in 2021, Pederson certainly has his work cut out for him. On offense, the team ranked dead last in the NFL in average points (14.9), 27th in average yards (305.4), and tied for 31st in total giveaways (29). As for defense, the unit ranked 28th in average points (26.9), 20th in yards (353.1), and last in total takeaways (9).
The entire Jags conversation between Khan and DA can be accessed in the audio player above.