Jags looking for a fresh start

When Shad Kahn took over as the new owner of your Jacksonville Jaguars, he promptly declared that he would bring a winning tradition to the franchise that has been sorely missing.  He first went out and hired offensive genius Mike Mularkey who turned Atlanta’s Matt Ryan into one of the NFL’s top quarterbacks.  Although Mularkey was not so successful as his last stint as a head coach (with Buffalo 2006-2008 where his record was 14-18.

Mularkey was asked if he thought he would prove successful in Jacksonville.

“When you start sobering up, how does it feel?” Khan said. “That’s the key issue. After the binge, how do you feel? … A wonderful thing about football is everybody looks great until the ball is snapped. Once the ball is snapped, results speak for themselves and we know in September how good a job he is doing preparing, strategies, (assembling) the staff. It will all come out. By that time, the buzz, the splash, is going to be history.”

Front office and coaching changes aside, the team will also have to deal with the sophomore season of Blaine Gilbert who passed for over 2200 yards last season with 12 touchdowns but was less than stellar.

Get your tickets to the new incarnation of the Jacksonville Jaguars!

Colts’ Loss Clears Path for Pursuing Andrew Luck

The Colts’ 19-13 loss to the ensured that they will have the first overall pick in the N.F.L. draft and that Stanford’s Andrew Luck, perhaps the most coveted quarterback since Manning himself, will almost surely be theirs. The Jaguars, who along with the rest of the A.F.C. South have been tormented by Manning’s presence, now face at least another decade with a potentially dominant quarterback in the division.

The Colts finished the season 2-14, their worst record since they were 3-13 in 1998, when Manning was a struggling rookie. The Colts, who were implored by some fans to preserve their draft position by tanking games, were in danger of missing out on the first pick and Luck because they won two straight games last month. Had the Colts beaten the Jaguars, they would have lost the top pick to the St. Louis Rams, who lost to the San Francisco 49ers and, with only two wins, would have had the worst record in the N.F.L.

Instead, the Colts, who won the top pick on a tiebreaker, now embark on what will be an off-season of difficult decisions and delicate conversations. They must first determine if Jim Caldwell will remain as the coach. But then they must figure out how to manage Luck and Manning. There seems to be little doubt that the Colts will take Luck — he is simply too good to pass up, even if Manning, who will turn 36 in March, can play a few more years.

The trickier decision is what to do about Manning, whose return is not yet assured. The Colts owe Manning a $28 million roster bonus in early March, which will put in effect the final four years of the five-year contract he signed last summer. The Colts may not fully know by then if Manning is able to return to his pre-injury level of play.

If the Colts do not pay the bonus, Manning will be a free agent, an outcome that seems unlikely after the owner Jim Irsay told the NFL Network that Manning would return to Indianapolis if he was healthy. If the Colts pay Manning, they will almost certainly keep him and make Luck his backup even though most personnel evaluators say Luck will be good enough to start as a rookie — potentially setting up an awkward dynamic.

If the Colts keep both quarterbacks, it will probably limit their ability to spend significantly to improve other positions, needs that were underscored by the team’s collapse in Manning’s absence.

Khan Unanimously Approved as Owner of Jaguars

While hanging out in the basement of his fraternity house, he began his American dream of owning an NFL team.

After building a multibillion-dollar company, Khan started working toward spending some of his fortune on fulfilling that college fantasy. He reached out to owners such as Wayne Weaver of the Jacksonville Jaguars to learn the business from the inside, and for them to get to know him.

Khan’s dream-turned-plan crossed the goal line Wednesday. He joined the fraternity of NFL owners as his purchase of the Jaguars from Weaver was unanimously approved by the other owners.

The deal is for an estimated $760 million. The ownership transfer will be complete Jan. 4.

“What I want to share with the Jacksonville fans is: Here I am, reporting for duty and ready to serve the fans. Let the fun begin,” Khan said with a smile that never left his face during a 20-minute news conference.

The 61-year-old Khan is the league’s first minority owner. But that’s not the only reason he stands out among his 31 peers. There’s also the prominent mustache he’s fancied since 1972, a trademark that he joked enables him to leap tall buildings and “do things I didn’t know I could do.”

Then again, what he’s done to get to this point is pretty remarkable.

Upon graduating from college in 1971, Khan went to work at Flex-N-Gate as an engineering manager. He left in 1978 to start his own company, Bumper Works, and two years later bought his former employer.

Now his privately held company is a major manufacturer of bumper systems for pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles built in North America. Revenue last year topped $3 billion, and Khan is believed to be a billionaire himself.

He tried buying the St. Louis Rams last year, coming close enough that the league had done its homework on him. That helped speed along this sale.

The deal was announced in late November and the league’s finance committee formally approved his bid last week. When the agenda item came up Wednesday, there wasn’t a single question or dissenting vote.

“I think that’s a good sign,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said. “It’s certainly an endorsement of his ownership.”

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones called the Jaguars sale bittersweet because the league is bidding farewell to Weaver. However, Jones praised Khan for his “commitment, his passion and his skill.”

“(Weaver) was a real asset to the league, but he did it right and he really brought a very qualified person to the table in Mr. Khan,” Jones said. “It takes some skill to come from where he came from to be where he is today. You add that to your (NFL) ownership group, and we’ve gotten better. … The more people we can have sitting around those tables in there that have wanted it real bad, that have a paid a high price to get in, and have a vision of how to grow the pie, the better the NFL will be. ”

To Jacksonville fans, the biggest questions are his commitment to keeping the team in their city and to turning around a franchise that’s struggling in the standings. He made it clear that he’s passionate about both.

“This is a partnership, really, with the fans,” Khan said. “I am committed obviously to the rebirth, the reinvigoration, doing whatever it takes to put a winner on the field to make Wayne and the other Jacksonvillians proud.”

He will be in Jacksonville this weekend to start meeting with fans and sponsors. He and Weaver also will discuss the process of hiring a new coach; Weaver fired Jack Del Rio on Nov. 29, the same day he announced the deal with Khan.

The Jaguars were chosen as an expansion team in 1993 and began playing in 1995. They were a win away from the in their second season, and have made the playoffs five times since, as recently as 2007. They also have hosted a Super Bowl.

“It’s been a great 18 years,” Weaver said. “But it was the right time. … I really feel great about handing over the stewardship to Shahid and to finishing the job of bringing a championship to Jacksonville. … I’m leaving it in good hands.”

In other news from Wednesday’s meetings: