Eric from Pittston, PA:
What is your take on Gus Bradley as a coach? Also, what do you think this means for coaches on the roster such as Tucker, and others?
John: Gus Bradley appears to have all the resume you want in a head coach. He was the Seattle defensive coordinator the past four seasons, and this past season, the Seahawks’ defense was one of the best in the NFL. That was little noticed for much of the season and then became one of the biggest stories in the NFL late in the year. The unit allowed fewer points than any team in the NFL and was fourth in yards allowed. All reports are he is a guy for whom players want to play, and was well-respected in Seattle. He also had become a hot candidate late in the process, and was a strong candidate in Philadelphia. My take is that he seems to fit the mold of a lot of successful recent hires – a younger coordinator with not a lot of name recognition but well-respected in league circles. That was what General Manager Dave Caldwell was familiar with in Atlanta, with General Manager Thomas Dimitroff hiring Mike Smith from the Jaguars when few outside Jacksonville knew much about Smith. How will Bradley do? Who knows? But it’s a formula Caldwell saw in Atlanta, and apparently one with which he is comfortable.
Steve from Jacksonville:
Let’s say all of the coaching positions change. If that’s the case, who will provide insight about what players are good practice and team guys since Caldwell and New Coach are not familiar with any of our existing players? Is it all what they see on practice and game tape?
John: If all position coaches change there wouldn’t be many people to provide that insight. And indeed in that scenario most of the evaluation will be based on game tape as well as information Caldwell and the scouts gathered while the player was in college. There also would be information available from scouts and personnel people who were with the Jaguars when the player was obtained. For the most part, Caldwell and the new staff would depend on what they knew about a player coming out of college. Personnel people put together pretty extensive information on players coming out of college, and build on that for each player throughout his career. I wouldn’t worry too much over this, though. All of the “practice player” and “team guy” stuff is secondary to whether a guy can play or not. That can be seen on tape.
Big Ty Man from Jacksonville:
When Gene was hired he was lauded by media members, most notably Peter King and Vic Ketchman, as "a great hire" with a sound philosophy and what not. All of the same things are being said about Caldwell. My question is how can the general public really know the temperature of this team and how well Caldwell's doing after some time aside from record? Can we ever really know it is a sinking ship before we actually take on water?
John: Questions along these lines always fascinate me, because the answer is simple and logical. Of course we can’t ever know – not the general public, and not the media. Realistically no one *knows.* We can speculate. We can make our best judgments. But no one is certain. That’s because football and sports are like most everything in life: you don’t know what’s going to happen until – get this – it happens. The NFL is not scripted. It is not a television drama. You don’t know what’s going to happen in advance. And that’s OK. It’s why people watch, and it’s what makes it so thrilling when your team wins.
Eric from Boise, ID:
On chacha, Andre Branch
is one of the Eight Guaranteed 2012 NFL Draft Busts.
Not having the first clue what “chacha” was, I googled it and after navigating an annoying popup ad that wouldn’t go away, I found the list to which you referred. Indeed, Andre Branch was listed as a guaranteed draft bust. This was true of Justin Blackmon
and Ryan Tannehill and Coby Fleener, too, so yes, whatever.
Howard from Homestead, FL:
I am an evangelical pastor who does NOT want Tebow anywhere near my team, unless it's on the opposing team's roster. God has nothing to do with it.
John: All Hail the Little Green Man.
Nick from Aarhus, Denmark:
Coaches are often stronger on one side of the ball. Do scouts tend to have a strength for one side of the ball or can they do it all?
John: There are undoubtedly scouts who are stronger with certain position groups, just as there are people with different skill sets in any profession. But for the most part, scouts scout all positions equally. Coaches are usually stronger on one side of the ball because they come up through the ranks first as position coaches, then as coordinators of one side or the other.
Ed from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
Are the players under contract available for meeting the new coach or does the new coach have to wait until mid-year to have a face-to face?
John: It depends. Players who are in town often will come by the facility to meet the coach, and the new coach also will often reach out to speak to players by telephone. Mike Mularkey last offseason met or spoke with most of the players by phone or face to face quickly very soon after taking the job. But it’s really no hurry. There really isn’t much that can be discussed in that meeting, anyway. Under the rules of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, players and coaches can’t discuss football-related topics until April.
Travis from Jacksonville:
Oh, I double dare you: Chris Mortensen puts the Tebow toothpaste back in the tube – actually, now the truth can be told. Gene Smith, in a final cruel irony to the Jaguar Nation, told Chris Mortensen through a source that the Jags were 'going Tebowing' after the season. Smith craftily waited until he knew he was getting canned, and figured he would jinx or solidify the new GM, while taking one last painful shot at the Jaguar fans who rejected him! He is laughing now, as I write this!
John: I get the joke, and it’s clever. But while it’s past time to move on, it should be noted on a serious note that Smith wanted no part of taking shots at Jaguars nation. Smith wanted passionately to win for this city and its fans. Whatever the results on the field, that remains true.
Tim from Jacksonville:
Have any of the Jaguars’ assistant coaches signed with other teams since being given permission to pursue those opportunities? If under the new coaching regime offensive coordinator becomes open do you think Greg Olson could be in the mix for the position?
John: Olson could well be in the mix, though that’s impossible to determine at this point. I know people around the organization spoke highly of Olson last season, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see the new coach try to retain him. That’s just a guess. As for Jaguars’ assistants signing elsewhere, there have been two so far – tight ends coach Bobby Johnson leaving for the Detroit Lions and offensive line coach Andy Heck leaving for the Kansas City Chiefs. Along with these, don’t be surprised if the entire staff changes. Although Mike Mularkey kept much of the defensive staff last season, with a 2-14 record, it wouldn’t be surprising to see a complete overhaul. David Caldwell talked about changing the culture and atmosphere, and if that’s the goal, not too many coaches will be retained, if any.
Anthony from WI:
Consider Joe Flacco as evil to me as Tim Tebow is to his haters. Flacco is one of the worst quarterbacks in the league and is surrounded by vast amounts of talent on both sides of the ball. His tight ends, running backs, offensive linemen and wide receivers are all excellent. His defense is well above average. I honestly would rather have Gabbert on the field than Flacco. He is that bad. Please do not forget that before this whole Ray Lewis extravaganza, a very large amount of fans and analysts picked the Colts to upset the Ravens in the Wild Card weekend because of how bad the Ravens were in the regular season.
John: I don’t really care how many fans and analysts picked against the Ravens, and I doubt Joe Flacco does, either. I do bet he wishes now he’d never kicked your dog.
Wallace from Jacksonville:
Just compared the Jaguars roster to the Falcons’ roster. What an eye opener! Do you think David Caldwell will build a roster along the lines of Atlanta's where at least 75 percent of the roster is made up of players from the top-tier college conferences versus the current Jaguars roster that has a disproportionate percentage of players from small colleges?
John: Actually, I hope Caldwell institutes a University of Florida and University of Alabama only policy. That way the team could rid itself of that pesky Cecil Shorts guy.
Marcus from Northern Hinterland:
First of all, If you are still writing the O-Zone in 20 years, I will truly feel sorry for you. However, if you are, I'll send in a few Tebow questions for ya'.
John: Don’t wait 20 years. Feel sorry for me now.