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8. Gus Bradley/Jacksonville

Predecessor: Mike Mularkey

Others interviewed: The most intriguing possibility in this process is someone who wasn’t screened. New general manager David Caldwell was college roommates with Greg Roman, who has done brilliant work as San Francisco’s offensive coordinator. But rather than wait until after Super Bowl XLVII to hire a close friend – which sometimes doesn’t translate into professional success a la Pioli and Crennel in Kansas City – Caldwell went outside the box with Bradley after immediately firing Mularkey.

Why Bradley?: Seattle’s defense was a bear under Bradley, who earned praise from Seahawks players for his upbeat coaching style. Caldwell also may have recognized that while offensive-minded coaches were the sexy choices for other vacancies, three of the four head coaches in last season’s conference championship games (Smith, Bill Belichick and John Harbaugh) had strong defensive roots.

Biggest philosophical change: Like Nathaniel Hackett in Buffalo, Jedd Fisch is making the jump from college offensive coordinator (University of Miami) to the same position in the NFL. Fisch, though, has a far more extensive NFL background than Hackett. He probably can’t do a much worse job than Jaguars predecessor Bob Bratkowski, whose play-calling and use of personnel left much to be desired.

Most pressing task: 2011 first-round pick Blaine Gabbert is on his third different offensive coordinator in three seasons. For a player who entered the league without much college experience, that could prove disastrous to his NFL development. The Jaguars must decide whether Gabbert or Chad Henne is a potential long-term answer at quarterback. Otherwise, “over-drafting” a college standout like West Virginia’s Geno Smith or Florida State’s E.J. Manuel may be a prudent move with the No. 2 overall pick.

Outlook: A prized pupil of legendary general manager Bill Polian, Caldwell comes from Atlanta’s front office. Jaguars fans – there are about seven of you out there worldwide, right? — hope that his pairing with Bradley can duplicate the same success that general manager Thomas Dimitroff and head coach Mike Smith have enjoyed with the Falcons. Like with Caldwell and Bradley, Dimitroff and Smith had never worked together before but subsequently formed a tight bond and enjoyed unprecedented success in the franchise’s 47-year history. Caldwell and Bradley are a big part of the make-over second-year owner Shad Khan has given on the franchise. The Jaguars also introduced a new “cool cat” logo and will play annual games in London to make amends for tepid local support. Khan’s initiatives are encouraging, but Caldwell and Bradley inherit a mess from the previous regime.

(AP Photo)

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The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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