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No crystal ball

Posted Jan 3, 2012

Tucker on future: "We’re in a wait-and-see mode."

Mel Tucker doesn’t know what the future holds, immediate or long-term.

What the Jaguars’ interim coach said Tuesday morning he does know is he can control what he can control, so in that vein he said he planned to conduct his day as normally as possible. He said the same was pretty much true of Wednesday and the rest of the week.

After that? Well, after that Tucker said was anyone’s guess.

“I don’t have a crystal ball,” Tucker said early Tuesday during his post-season wrap-up press conference at EverBank Field. “I don’t have an expectation at this point.

“We’re in a wait-and-see mode. I’m sure things will shake out the way they need to. The most important thing is what’s best for Jacksonville. We’ll wait and see and take things as they come.”

Tucker, who took over as interim coach following the firing of Jack Del Rio on November 29, coached the Jaguars to a 2-3 record in five games. The Jaguars beat Indianapolis, 19-13, in the regular-season finale Sunday.

Shahid Khan, who is expected to take full control as sole owner on Wednesday, has said Tucker will be a candidate for the permanent role.

Names of other candidates also surfaced in published reports Monday.

“I won’t pay attention until they name the guy,” Pro Bowl running back Maurice Jones-Drew said. “It’s going to be a process and there’s a lot of uncertainty around a lot of things. You just have to wait until things get cleared up.”

The Jaguars reportedly have requested permission to interview five assistants from other teams: Brian Schottenheimer (New York Jets offensive coordinator), Mike Mularkey (Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator), Rob Chudzinksi (Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator), Mike McCoy (Denver Broncos offensive coordinator) and Bill O’Brien (New England Patriots offensive coordinator).

“All the guys we’re talking about here, they all bring different things to the table,” Jaguars middle linebacker Paul Posluszny said. “It will be interesting to see who the final guy will be.”

Said tight end Marcedes Lewis, “I think we’re all looking forward to getting back and figuring out what’s going to happen. We’ll see what happens.”

Lewis said considering the Jaguars ranked No. 32 in the NFL in total offense it made sense to have five offensive coordinators on the list.

“I can understand that,” he said. “Obviously, that’s not our decision, but maybe that’s what we need.”

Lewis said he wants a coach who uses the players to the best of their abilities.

“That’s all I can hope for,” he said. “We’re going to go out there and give what we’ve got every day in practice and go from there. I have faith in (General Manager) Gene (Smith) that he’s going to do a great job of bringing a guy in here who’s going to maximize our potential as players. That’s all we want.”

Said linebacker Daryl Smith, “Those things are out of our hands. Right now, you just take the time off, let your body heal up and be ready to work when it’s time to come back. . . . I’m sure Gene and Mr. Khan and the guys are going to bring in a head coach that’s going to lead us to a championship. We’ll be on board and we’ll go from there.”

Said defensive tackle Terrance Knighton, “It’s important. I’ve already seen a lot of names pop up. You’ll Google them and ask other players, ‘What type of guy is he?’”

Tucker said he will sit down with Khan in the near future.

 “My interaction with him over the past couple of weeks has been good,” Tucker said of Khan. “I’ve learned a lot about him and he knows a lot more about me. We’ll continue to talk. I’m not sure what’s going to happen.”

Tucker said he didn’t want to use Tuesday’s press availability to campaign for the job, and that he didn’t want to get deep into details about what he’ll discuss with Khan.

“We’ll see how the interview process unfolds,” he said. “I don’t have a timeline at this point. We’ll have to wait and see how things go.”

Tucker also said he didn’t want to get into “hypotheticals” should he be contacted by another team for a position, and also declined to say if he had had any interview requests.

“Really my focus today is wrapping up with the team,” Tucker said. “I have guys coming in and have scheduled interviews with guys on the team today. In the midst of everything that’s going on I’m going to sit with guys and just have a brief meeting with them. I’m doing that today. I believe there’s a medical meeting tomorrow that I’ll be involved in and then we’ll just go from there.”

Posluszny said he hoped Tucker and the defensive staff will return in some capacity. The Jaguars improved from 29th to 6th in overall defense this season.

“Hopefully, that will work out,” Posluszny said. “I know that’s not always the case in these situations, but hopefully that will work out.”

Tucker said he hasn’t considered his approach should the Jaguars hire a head coach and offer him the chance to stay as coordinator.

“I don’t know how it’s going to feel because it hasn’t happened,” Tucker said. “I’m not going to speculate.”

Tucker said while many Jaguars assistants were told they will not be needed at the facility past Friday, he has not been told he needs to vacate the facility by then.

“The details of what I have to do is pretty simple,” Tucker said. “I’m the interim head coach and so that’s a little bit different role I think than any other role on the team. And so whatever I have to do, whatever I’m asked to do I’ll do gladly. . . .

“This is not a normal situation. So some of the things that I’ll be doing will be day-to-day and I’ll be on the ready-ready, on the alert for what needs to be done. But I know I’ll finish up with some players today, I want to take another look at this last game, and then I’ll be doing some grading and then we’ll go from there.”

Tucker spoke calmly throughout the press availability, and when asked about nerves or anxiety entering the search process, he said, “My dad always taught me never to get too high or too low.”

Tucker recalled a time playing little league baseball. His father was coaching, he was pitching and Tucker said he couldn’t throw a strike. His father pulled him from the game and Tucker said while he couldn’t remember what he said, “It wasn’t good.”

Afterward, they spoke in the car.

“He said, ‘If you can’t handle this, you’re not going to be able to play this sport – you’re not going to make it,’’’ Tucker said. “ ’You’re going to have to take the ups with the downs and the highs with the lows. I try to keep perspective on things as much as I can. That takes experience and that takes time.

“You take things as they come – that’s how I approach things. You prepare as best you can for what you think you’ll have to accomplish, then you do the best you can from there. I try to keep things pretty simple.”

Other notes from Tucker’s final press availability of the season:

*Tucker said whatever the future, “I want to thank everyone involved. It’s something I’ll never forget.” Tucker also thanked fans for their support throughout the season.

*Tucker said while rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert was “thrown into a very difficult situation, I thought he handled it well. There were never any excuses or explanations from Blaine and he was very unselfish. He stood up to the challenge.” Tucker said Gabbert improved throughout the season. “The arrow is up,” Tucker said. “I think he’s going to be a great NFL player. Only time will tell that, but he has a start on it.”

*Tucker said he was proud of the way Jaguars coaches and players “stuck together and weathered the storm” of a 5-11 season. “The fans should be proud of this football team – not for the win/loss record – but there was no quit in guys and they finished the season on a high note,” Tucker said. “I think that’s very important. It demonstrates the character of guys on this team. I think the future is very, very bright here in Jacksonville.”

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