Let's get to it . . .
Robert from El Paso, TX:
John, long weekend of waiting and watching the general manager search. Any updates?
John: As of early Monday, we’re pretty much where we were early Sunday. The Jaguars reportedly have interviewed four candidates – Atlanta Falcons Director of Player Personnel David Caldwell, San Francisco 49ers Director of Player Personnel Tom Gamble, New York Giants Director of College Scouting Marc Ross and Arizona Cardinals Vice President of Player Personnel Steve Keim. Caldwell reportedly is the lone candidate to have interviewed twice, and the search is said to be narrowed to Caldwell and Keim with Caldwell the favorite. My guess – and this is very much a guess – is something gets announced this week. We’ll see.
Zach from Knoxville, TN:
Are we going to make a coaching change?
John: That’s a question I’d guess is answered by the end of the week, maybe much sooner. When Head Coach Mike Mularkey received the go-ahead Friday to tell his assistants they were free to speak with other teams, it gave pretty clear indication that there was a good chance Mularkey and most/all of the staff wouldn’t be retained. That’s not a done deal. I’d expect that decision to be announced either at the same time as the general manager hiring or shortly thereafter.
Bryce from Algona, IA:
It seems the Jags like David Caldwell a lot and I'd be willing to say he has the job IF he wants it. Considering he hasn't been named the new general manager yet, I am coming to the conclusion he may be hesitant to come to this franchise knowing there are other teams who may be in better situations than the Jags are. Do my premonitions have any value or am I just being my typical George Costanza self?
John: You’re being Constanza. This is a two-sided search, and there are many moving parts to any situation such as this. If you notice, there were no official announcements over the weekend about head coaches or general managers, and that’s no coincidence. Most of these things get done during the week. Whatever the timing, it behooves all parties to move at the pace that makes the most sense, and to not rush things. There are a lot of long-term ramifications for all involved.
Todd from Panama City, FL:
Is there any concern Jacksonville may not be as an attractive organization to go to when compared to the teams also looking for a GM? I’m nervous we might not get our top pick for GM or even second or third. Is there concern we might have to settle for someone we really did not want just to fill the spot?
John: Not on my part, there isn’t. The Jaguars’ general manager job is considered one of the best open right now. There is an owner who is willing to spend, a team with cap space and considering the record, there is nowhere to go but up. All in all, it’s a pretty good gig. It’s also one of 32, so there’s that.
Marcus from Jacksonville:
If the Jaguars let go of Mike Mularkey, is there a chance it will be his last chance as a head coach?
John: Most likely, and that answer has nothing to do with Mularkey’s ability as a head coach. It’s just rare in the NFL for someone to get two opportunities, much less three. Mularkey left the head coaching position in Buffalo after two years, and it took him six seasons to get another opportunity. If he doesn’t return as Jaguars head coach next season, he’ll leave with a 7-25 record in his last two seasons – 5-11 at Buffalo and 2-14 last season. Mularkey doesn’t deserve all of the blame for 2-14 this past season, but it would be a hard sell for an owner to take a chance on Mularkey anytime soon. It’s likely he would need a pretty dramatic career reinvention to get another chance, and that likely would take a lot of seasons.
David from Jacksonville:
Why is the Rooney rule a good idea? Would you want to be interviewed just because you're a minority –especially when you know the other team is going in a different direction?
John: The Rooney rule understandably has some controversy to it. It was implemented in 2003, mandating that teams interview at least one minority candidate when searching for head coaches or senior football operation positions. The idea is not to require that a minority candidate be hired for every position, but to ensure that minority candidates get a chance to be involved in the interview process. Are there times when the minority candidate knows the team is going in a different direction? Yes. But the theory is that the more minority candidates get in front of owners, the more chances to make an impression and to have their names circulated in the hiring process that year and in future seasons. Ideally, that wouldn’t be necessary any longer and perhaps we’re reaching a time soon when the rule isn’t needed, but there are significantly more minorities in the process than there were a decade ago, and that’s a sign that the rule has worked.
David from Jacksonville:
I know I'm not the popular voice here, but Gene Smith was great at drafting late-round talent and picking up undrafted rookies. Did he leave on good enough standing to possibly return to us as a scout? I'm not a fan of demotions, but Gene was a great scout.
John: Smith left on good standing, but I can’t see that scenario playing out. Smith loved the Jaguars and was passionate about the team’s success, and he’s certainly qualified to be a scout. But he’s also qualified for far more than that, and I imagine he will be hired by some team in a front-office capacity sooner rather than later. When a general manager leaves a situation, it’s tough to return to that team in a reduced role.
Bob from St. Augustine, FL:
Which team will turn around faster: KC or Jacksonville? Will be interesting to watch.
John: Indeed it will. The short answer: whichever team answers the quarterback question first. The longer answer is I’d say the Chiefs look a bit further ahead than the Jaguars right now. They had five Pro Bowl players and a defense that looks like it has a chance to be very good. The Jaguars look to have a few more holes than that, but better play at the quarterback position has a way of filling holes all over the roster.
Otto from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
If the new general manager does not decide to retain Mike Mularkey or any of his staff do they receive their 2013 salary even if hired by another organization?
John: Yes, the coaches’ contracts work the same way as that of General Manager Gene Smith. They are assured of being paid by the Jaguars through the end of their contracts. If they go somewhere in the NFL for a lesser salary, they receive the salary from that team and the difference from the Jaguars. If, say, defensive coordinator Mel Tucker makes $600,000 a year from the Jaguars and gets a job with the Cleveland Browns paying $400,000 he receives $400,000 from the Browns and $200,000 from the Jaguars.
Brandon from Fort Meyers, FL:
Ok buddy, last time you said you would expect something by next week we waited almost until the start of the regular season. Should we expect a new GM the week before the draft now? Also an unnamed source told me you’re interviewing for GM. But I promised my unnamed source it would remain unnamed.
I assume you’re referring to the Maurice Jones-Drew
holdout, and when analyzing that situation I misread Jones-Drew’s commitment. I figured since the Jaguars were not going to budge that Jones-Drew would realize this and come to camp on time. I was wrong. The general manager will get done in a dramatically more timely manner, of course, and your sources notwithstanding, it seems the team is putting together a very capable list.
Mike from Jacksonville:
One recurring criticism of Gene Smith was his penchant for drafting small school players. Yet some teams players apparently didn't go to college, based on the player self-intros where they name their school, some say WhatEver High. How do these guys get on a roster?
John: It has become a trend in recent years for players to sometimes name their high school instead of their college. In most cases, those players went to college.
John from Orlando, FL:
If Mularkey is gone, do you think Sullivan leaves, too?
John: That’s a good question. I haven’t spoken to Sullivan since the end of the season, but there would seem to be a chance that he wouldn’t return if Mularkey doesn’t. Sullivan was pretty specific more than once that he came out of retirement at least in part because he wanted to work with Mularkey. He turned down a chance to work with Larry Fitzgerald in Arizona this year for the same reason. Sullivan doesn’t need to coach if he doesn’t want to, so it remains to be seen if he’ll return.
Eric from Jacksonville:
Why had Gene Smith gotten away from acquiring players from the SEC? It’s not a matter of opinion that the SEC as a whole, is bigger, faster, more talented and most of all the players seem to adapt to the NFL quicker. In previous Jaguars successful seasons, the rosters were a little more SEC-rich. Do you suppose the new GM may focus on scouting/drafting more players from the SEC?
John: I hope the first thing the new general manager does is sign a player from the SEC. The next call he makes can be to the ring factory to start setting up sizing appointments.