Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell has had no issues with the changes at EverBank Field.
While outsiders have speculated about his role moving forward, Caldwell has been quick to shoot down the thought of a major transition period.
Speaking to the media on Thursday at the NFL Combine, Caldwell said Tom Coughlin and Doug Marrone have been easy to work with since both were added to the front office in January.
“It has been really good," Caldwell said. "I think Doug, Tom and I have embraced the process and there has been a lot of communication with all the decisions. It has been truly a team effort, not only between the three of us, but with the coaching staff and our personnel staff.”
Caldwell said Coughlin has been a good sounding board throughout the offseason. There has been little adjustment in Caldwell's routine with Coughlin in place.
“No, surprisingly enough, through the whole process and having an idea that this was going to happen you kind of think how is this going to work," Caldwell said.
"Tom has been great. It has been great to be able to walk down the hallway and bounce some things off of him. ‘Hey we are going to do this or hey we are going to do that. What do you think about this? What do you think about that?’ Then we sit together with he and I and Doug and we come together on a collective decision.”
While Caldwell hasn't faced a lot of adjustment, the Jaguars' roster is definitely set for some change. Following a 3-13 campaign, Caldwell knows the roster has to improve.
Caldwell acknowledged that quarterback Blake Bortles has to improve his play this season. The Jaguars have until May 3 to pickup the fifth-year option in the quarterback's contract.
"I think just like with everything we have done from the end of the season until now we get a lot of input from our coaches," Caldwell said. "We have OTAs. We have minicamps. We have a lot of things between now and then to see where he is at. I don’t think any decision will be made until closer to May.”
The general manager said he still believes Bortles can be a franchise quarterback.
"Over the last two years, he’s accounted for 64 touchdowns," Caldwell said of Bortles.
"There’s only four quarterbacks in the league that have produced more touchdowns than that over the last two years. Obviously, Blake, like he said and Coach Marrone said and Coach Coughlin said, he’s got to cut down on the turnovers, but I think he’ll do that. I think he’ll learn to maybe throw the ball away at times. He’s such a competitive person, but it’s a maturation process with him and until we can account for the 64 touchdowns he’s going to be our quarterback.”
Bortles isn't the only player on the Jaguars' roster facing a make-or-break offseason. Veteran linebacker Paul Posluszny is also facing uncertainty. Caldwell said his role will be determined by how the offseason plays out.
“I think that depends on what we do in free agency and what we do in the draft," Caldwell said. "I think Poz is going to be a very important part of this defense next year and moving forward.”
Caldwell was also quick to endorse free safety Tashaun Gipson.
"Well I think what goes unnoticed about Tashaun is how we’ve really cut down on the explosive plays," Caldwell said. "The interception production may have not been there, but the cut down on explosive plays was critical for our defense last year.”
While Caldwell is content with Gipson, the rest of the secondary may go through some transition. Obviously, cornerback Jalen Ramsey will be the focal point in that group.
"Well he’s a hell of a competitor," Caldwell said. "I think it’s hard for any rookie corner to come in and play at any level in the NFL, but to do what he did the last half of the season was pretty impressive. I know our game against Houston, I’ve had multiple personnel people come up to me after that second game in Houston and say they haven’t seen a rookie corner play at such a high level.”
The evolution of the secondary may come from the positions opposite Ramsey and Gipson. Incumbent starting strong safety Johnathan Cyprien and cornerback Prince Amukamara are set to become free agents on March 9.
“I think for both of those guys I think it is important for them to hit the market and see what their value is and then circle back with their representation,” Caldwell said.
The Jaguars have the second largest salary cap and third most available funds in the league. Free agency should be fun for the city of Jacksonville, but Caldwell said the Jaguars will be smart with the franchise's assets.
"We I think we have to be disciplined," Caldwell said. "We’re going to set a limit for our guys that we’re going to target. We’re going to be aggressive for the guys we want. We can’t be careless with the money.”
Despite popular belief, Caldwell said the offensive line and pass rush are not the team's top priorities in free agency.
He also noted that the running back draft class is very strong.
"I think you have some premier guys there and I think you can find very quality rushers throughout the draft,” Caldwell said.
Follow Mike Kaye on Twitter at @Mike_E_Kaye.
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