Jaguars general manager Trent Baalke, whose role in the team's ongoing coaching search has confounded many around the league and angered Jacksonville's fanbase, has most recently aligned himself with Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus in his attempt to find a coach willing to eagerly work alongside him, league sources said.
Baalke's reputation in coaching circles is quite poor, and that perception has only been reinforced through what has been a bizarre coaching process for the organization thus far. Many of the top candidates harbor significant reservations about Baalke remaining with the team -- with many only seriously considering it if assured Baalke would be out following the draft -- but Eberflus, who has also garnered head coaching interviews elsewhere, has been someone Baalke has strongly backed, sources said, after the candidacy of former Texans head coach Bill O'Brien fizzled.
O'Brien was given strong support from Baalke, leading to him eventually interviewing for the position, but sources said that meeting quickly went south with Tony Khan, son of owner Shad Khan and a high-ranking official with the team, expressing strong reservations about O'Brien's past history of toxicity during the process. Baalke has been trying to prize his job security while securing a head coach, sources said, and Eberflus, whose defense was exposed by the struggling Jaguars in Week 18, thereby knocking the Colts from playoff contention, has also been looking for greater leverage as he makes the rounds for head coaching opportunities.
Baalke has reached out to several of the candidates to gauge their interest in him, sources said, and has become a strong proponent of Eberflus. The Jaguars are expected to wait for a second interview with some of the candidates who are still coaching in the playoffs – like Bryon Leftwich of the Jaguars – before making any decisions, with the process already dragging out for nearly a month at this point.
Regardless of which coach the Jaguars hire, Baalke has engendered scorn from the fanbase, which is not lost on ownership, and there has been considerable chatter in the NFL scouting circles that the Jaguars could opt to re-assess their management team after the draft. In recent years several teams have made such moves, letting go of their general manager in the spring after guiding the team through a draft process that he was already spearheading.