Mel Tucker is preparing for the job interview of his life.
The Jacksonville Jaguars’ defensive coordinator and interim head coach took over for fired head coach Jack Del Rio on a temporary basis. When the Jaguars take the field this Monday against the San Diego Chargers, Tucker will begin to show whether he is worthy of being Jacksonville’s next head coach.
It's the beginning of a five-game stretch that will determine if he is head-coaching material at this point in his career.
Tucker has done an excellent job as the team’s coordinator this season. Jacksonville has the league’s fourth-ranked defense, which is an impressive feat considering the team’s horrid offensive production and the injuries to the defensive side of the ball.
With newly-acquired players, Tucker has gotten everyone to buy into his approach. Yes, he had talent to work with after the addition of linebackers Paul Posluszny and Clint Session, as well as safeties Dawan Landry and Dwight lowery. But he had to make the most of those upgrades in a shortened offseason, making Jacksonville’s progress on defense quite stunning.
Tucker has, at the very least, proven worthy of being a defensive coordinator again in the NFL. But can he be a head coach?
The audition begins now. Tucker will have every opportunity to make his case for being the team’s head honcho. If the Jaguars can show signs of improvement and play with intensity under Tucker, he’ll have a legit chance when the Jaguars begin their coaching search.
Remember, we saw this last season with the Dallas Cowboys and their offensive coordinator turned interim head coach Jason Garrett. He was a hot commodity prior the beginning of the season but his stock dropped when the Cowboys failed to meet preseason expectations. Wade Phillips was fired and Garrett had a chance to coach the Cowboys. The team improved under him and he got the gig to be the team’s full-time head coach. Now the Cowboys are 7-4 and are looking to make the post season.
The same scenario can set up for Tucker. Remember, he’s an Ohio State guy and newly re-signed general manager Gene Smith loves his Pennsylvania, Ohio-area people.
Tucker just needs to churn out a few wins in the final five weeks of the season. If he can do that, the Jaguars will have strongly consider giving Tucker the job.