Let's get to it . . .
Jon from Durham, NC:
With the Falcons and 49ers still in the playoffs, coaches on those teams are unavailable to interview with the Jaguars. Does that limit the candidates the Jaguars will interview? For example, if they like Jay Gruden and hear rumors another team may offer him a head coaching job, will they wait until the 49ers coaches are available, or make an offer without interviewing all their prospective candidates?
John: That’s a good question and the answer remains to be seen. Likely, it will depend on just how wowed Caldwell and the Jaguars are by candidates they interview this week. As far as your question, the postseason absolutely limits a general manager/team when seeking a coach. The Jaguars reportedly are interested in Falcons special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong as well as 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman, and they now can’t interview until after the conference championship games. The Jaguars reportedly plan to interview Jay Gruden – the Bengals’ offensive coordinator – this week, as well as Rams offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer and Jaguars defensive coordinator Mel Tucker. The Jaguars don’t seem to be in the rush to interview a long list of candidates immediately the way some other teams are right now. That leads you to believe Caldwell has someone in mind, quite possibly Roman, his college roommate at John Carroll. Either way, don’t worry. Fans often panic in this situation as they see recognizable names go off the board, but there’s not necessarily cause for concern. If Caldwell was worried about it, he probably would be frantically scheduling interviews. It appears he has a plan.
Brian from Providence, RI:
Thoughts on the coaching search? What do you think of the names out there?
John: It seems apparent from the names we’ve heard Caldwell is taking a look at coordinators who haven’t been head coaches – Gruden, Tucker, Armstrong, Schottenheimer and Roman among them – and I don’t have a problem with that. Gruden is one of the hotter names, and Armstrong and Tucker are well-respected in coaching circles. Schottenheimer scares some people because of his time with the New York Jets, but he, too, is respected within the league. Most observers consider Roman the favorite, and if you’ve watched the 49ers the past couple of years, he appears creative enough to run an offense without a prototype franchise quarterback. It stands to reason a move for Roman could also mean interest in 49ers quarterback Alex Smith, and while that doesn’t excite everyone, Roman had a lot of success with Smith, so if it happens, I’d have an open mind.
Dan from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
Do you see an Alex Smith and Roman package deal coming to Jacksonville?
John: I’m sure not ruling it out.
Ilydio from Kalamazoo, MI:
What do you think the Jaguars need in order to be a Super Bowl-caliber team? It seems to me that the position that has been the most at need for this team since Mark Brunell left is the quarterback position. This team has struggled to find a stable player in this position. Let me know what you think.
John: I think if you don’t have a solid quarterback situation, you better work until you do. I also think there are many, many areas of need right now, but quarterback’s always up there.
EJ from Shoehorn, WI:
Caldwell said head coaching experience wasn't a prerequisite, but does it disqualify a candidate? So far the only reports are of interviews with coordinators. Granted, that doesn't guarantee they aren't happening, but if we heard about the interview with Falcons special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong, you would think we'd hear about an interview with Mike Holmgren or Lovie Smith. Your thoughts?
John: Yes, I think we would.
Ed from Silver Spring, MD:
David Caldwell is in a better situation than Gene Smith four years ago. Smith had to rely heavily on first-through-fourth year players as the foundation. Maurice Jones-Drew
and Marcedes Lewis
are the only two players on our roster from the 2005-2008 drafts. The players taken in those years should be the core of the team in the prime of their careers, but most are out of the league. Caldwell is taking control of a very young team that still has solid players from the 2009-2012 drafts. With a few good draft choices and roster moves, this team could start to compete in the next few years as the young players continue to develop.
It is entirely possible that in a year or two we will look back and see that a few of Smith’s selections helped form the core of a competing team. I’d expect that could be the case with Cecil Shorts, Justin Blackmon
, Eugene Monroe
, as well as Tyson Alualu
, Derek Cox
and a few others. There are undoubtedly also other players who will remain with the team and be contributing players over the next few seasons. Just as every player selected by a successful general manager isn’t great, every selection by a departed general manager isn’t a disaster.
Fred from Naples, FL:
Tom Gamble initially was on the "hot list" of many teams including the Jaguars. Many of the general manager openings have been filled with no mention of Tom Gamble. What gives?
John: The hot guy isn’t always the right guy. I don’t know specifically what happened with Gamble and the Jaguars. It was reported that he interviewed with the Jaguars and the Jets and that the Chiefs had early interest. While observers see general managers and coaching searches as names on a board, the interview process matters. Franchises and general managers each go in different directions for many reasons.
Steve from Hudson, FL:
After watching the Green Bay/San Francisco game, do you think defenses will develop and create a different type of defensive end/outside linebacker player to defend the read option quarterback or will extensive film study kill it much like the wildcat?
John: If I had a detailed answer to that one, I’d be behind closed doors in an NFL office somewhere making a lot more than senior writer salary. My growing sense – and I’m not alone in this – is we’re seeing the first major steps of an evolution at the quarterback position. Now, note I didn’t say, “Revolution.” I am skeptical that the league will completely become based around the running quarterback read-option because I still adhere to the belief that the risk of injury is far too great to make it a staple of NFL offenses league-wide. Colin Kaepernick can do what he did Saturday, and RGIII can do what he did a lot of the year, but playing that way they’re going to take hits and taking hits sooner rather than later will take away the athleticism and speed that makes them effective running players. However, it’s also obvious that colleges are producing more players comfortable with this style, and that’s going to encourage more and more NFL teams to work to try to use something that clearly is very effective. As to your question about teams stopping it, there’s no question defenses will adapt to it – just as offenses and defenses have adapted to innovation throughout the course of the game. I don’t know that a new type of player will be created so much as different schemes to attack it. Right now, it’s effective because comparatively few teams use it. You can bet that there will be a lot of focus on it in meeting rooms this offseason. For example, I bet Green Bay invests a few weeks.
Colin from Wilbraham, MA:
I'm not sure how to feel about Caldwell. I was ecstatic when I heard he doesn't want Tebow, but outside of that, I can't see the logic in his other moves. Why kick Mularkey out after just one season? And analytics? I think the eye test is the way to go. And, why bring in another QB? Blaine has the skills to be a very good quarterback as long as he keeps developing. We need so much help on defense, that it just seems illogical to waste a draft pick or any sort of money on another quarterback. Call me shortsighted, but the passing game didn't appear to be our problem this season.
John: Caldwell has been on the job since Wednesday – Thursday, if you mean when he got in the building. It’s Monday morning. Take a breath. Give him some time.
Larry from Section 216:
Is it just me, or does Khan remind us of Robert Kraft? Kraft took the same approach with the Patriots’ franchise as Khan is taking with the Jaguars. Kraft bought the Patriots, expanded their market (by changing their name), changed their uniforms, and got people in place to build a winning team. Thoughts?
John: Kraft didn’t change the name of the New England Patriots. They changed from Boston to New England long, long before Kraft bought the team, but you’re right that the team rebranded and improved under him. The organization has been strong since he bought the team, and it became a powerhouse when it drafted Tom Brady.
Tommy from Wilmington, NC:
What's up, Ozone? It's my birthday and I just wanted to thank you for a great year of Jags coverage. Even though they stunk this year I had an awesome time rooting for my Jags. Maybe next year we can get a few more "W's" but even if we don't I'll still be cheering.
John: I have a feeling things will get awesomer soon.