Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O'Connell emerges as a key candidate for Jaguars head coach

The Jacksonville Jaguars' head-coaching search hit a roadblock late this past week, as rumors swirled about moves that didn't happen and hires that never materialized.

It was a collective cloud of smoke. But perhaps that is clearing up.

Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O'Connell has emerged as a key candidate to be the Jaguars' next head coach, sources say, with the team hoping to have an in-person interview with him as soon as Monday. However, the Jags would have to wait until after Super Bowl LVI to officially interview O'Connell should Los Angeles advance Sunday because they didn't conduct a first interview with him during the week of the Divisional Round, NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported.

Traditionally, the Rams, who play the 49ers in the NFC Championship Game, have been accommodating when it comes to other teams requesting to interview their coaches. But with it being a first interview, the next step is dependent upon Sunday's outcome.

O'Connell wasn't on the Jaguars' initial list of candidates, but he has been a name that has always received positive feedback in their building, sources say. O'Connell impressed during interviews with the Broncos and Vikings, and Denver strongly considered waiting to hire Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett just to speak with O'Connell again, sources say.

As Pelissero reported, O'Connell is a finalist with the Vikings. He also is a top candidate for the Texans.

It was an eventful week in Jacksonville, as various internet reports either pegged Buccaneers offensive coordinator and former Jaguars quarterback Byron Leftwich as the eventual head coach or predicted the firing of general manager Trent Baalke. Or both. Neither came close to happening.

Leftwich is still a candidate for the job, sources say. But the interest in O'Connell, who is said to be a big fan of quarterback Trevor Lawrence, makes one wonder if this is why the Jaguars have bided their time and waited.

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