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Mike Smith emerging as “top guy” in Jacksonville search

At a time when most coaching searches are skewing toward young offensive minds, the Jaguars may end up hiring a defensive coordinator who previously served as head coach of the Falcons.

Amid plenty of chatter that Buccaneers defensive coordinator Mike Smith could be the next coach of the Jags, one league source tells PFT that Smith currently is the “top guy” in the search.

Fueling Smith’s candidacy is the reality that Smith served as coach of the Falcons when Jaguars G.M. Dave Caldwell worked as the director of college scouting and, in 2012, the director of player personnel in Atlanta.

During each of Caldwell’s five years with the Falcons, Smith led the team to a winning record, culminating in an NFC title-game appearance. So while Smith’s star fell quickly in the two years after Caldwell had left, Caldwell’s full memories of his five years with the Falcons include working with a coach who, every single season, won more games than he lost.

In the four seasons since then for Caldwell, it’s been the other extreme, with Gus Bradley going 14-48 before being fired late in the 2016 season.

The attraction to Smith, then, is obvious. And Smith is by far the safest choice from the perspective of the guy leading the search, since Caldwell already knows Smith far better than any other candidate, making the move to hire Smith a much lower risk than it would be with any of the other people who have been interviewed for the job.