Much love for new Jaguars owner Shahid Khan in the in-box the last two days, much of it stemming from his media opportunities this week.
We'll get to some of your thoughts on Khan in today's O-Zone, but the overwhelming positive reaction has been striking. This seems to be more than the excitement of something new. Fans are responding to Khan, and it's more than the mustache, too. It seems many are starting to pick up on the same vibe former owner – strange to write that for the first time – Wayne Weaver got throughout his dealings with Khan, and that's that Khan and his family are good for the Jaguars and good for Jacksonville.
There's excitement in the air, and it's the best kind of excitement – it's excitement accompanied by someone determined to do things the right way. That bodes well.
Let's get to it . . .
Sean from San Bernadino, CA:
Is there any way you can give us a breakdown of who will be coming back next year on defense (based on contracts signed last year or previous) or who will be on the "chopping block" so to speak?
John: Starters under contract are defensive tackle Terrance Knighton and Tyson Alualu, as well as all three linebackers – Paul Posluszny, Clint Session and Daryl Smith. Cornerback Derek Cox is under contract, as is safety Dawan Landry. Nickelback Drew Coleman and cornerback Kevin Rutland are also under contract, as is safety Chris Prosinski. At defensive end, starters Matt Roth and Jeremy Mincey are free agents, as are cornerback Rashean Mathis and safety Dwight Lowery. Defensive tackles Nate Collins, Leger Douzable and C.J. Mosley are free agents, and linebacker Russell Allen is a restricted free agent. Cornerback Will Middleton and safety Courtney Greene also are free agents.
Bill from Hamden, CT:
You don't cut your own lawn?
John: Absolutely I do. I am a man of the earth, and of the people.
Jason from Orange Park, FL:
I am reading more and more about Khan and am absolutely ecstatic. I love his emphasis on being balanced and the knowledge/insight he is using to know what we need. Question: with what we have read from Khan, what is a logical expectation with free agency and the draft? Do you see Kahn working to get a top free agent wide receiver and defensive back? Hopefully a veteran free agent wide receiver and defensive back are brought in to assist with current players and a potentially incredible first two rounds of the Khan Draft. Love the ozone and my JAGS!!!!!! It is now officially GO TIME....
John: Khan indicated pretty strongly Wednesday that he will be willing this off-season to do what is necessary. If he and Jaguars General Manager Gene Smith determine they need wide receivers (very likely) and cornerbacks (very possible), the Jaguars will be very active.
Shawn from Ponte Vedra, FL:
When it comes to being an owner of an NFL franchise I like to see the respect to older owners. Remember when Mark Cuban had the original owner of the Mavericks come up on stage when they won the NBA Championship? There is no doubt in my mind that is something Shad Khan would do and would bring up Wayne Weaver. That's what I like in an owner. Your thoughts?
John: I like it, too, and I would be stunned if Khan didn't do so in such a situation.
Brad from Orange Park, FL:
It's hard to find very much flaw in anything I've heard/read from Shad. Kind of like a humble aggressiveness to him. Seems real capable in executing what needs to be done. Good feel. Go Jags.
John: This was pretty much the tone of the in-box Thursday and Friday. I won't pretend to know Shahid Khan on any sort of a basic, personal level, but I have spent time with him on four or five different occasions, and what I've written before remains true: you just can't be in the same room with him without realizing there's a reason he is so successful. You don't have his success by simply building quality automobile parts. You have to be able to dissect a situation and know how to negotiate that situation and build an organizational structure to be successful in that situation. Khan it is clear has devoted a great deal of time and energy to being as prepared as possible to make the right decisions during the early part of his Jaguars tenure. I don't know if the head coach Khan eventually hires will be successful or not. I am certain that whoever he hires will have the attributes Khan wants in a coach, and I do know Khan will have done enough research that those will be the correct attributes. That greatly increases the chances that coach will be successful and in this business, that's all you can ask.
Shabba Doo from Jacksonville:
Is it really possible to interview coaches that are currently in the playoffs? I think every coach that's been heard for interviews including Mel Tucker, are NOT true candidates for a HC. I smell smokescreens.
John: Yes, coaches in the playoffs can be interviewed. A coach with a team with a first-round bye can interview this week and a coach with a team without a bye can interview next week. As far as smokescreens, I don't think all of the candidates fit that description. As Khan put it on Jaguars This Week Wednesday, the Jaguars have cast a wide net. Some of the coaches in that net will fall out of the process quickly and some won't, but Gene Smith is heavily involved in the process and he's not a big smokescreen guy.
Chad from Orange Beach, AL:
Maybe it's me. Maybe I have my head in the clouds. But as someone who was born and raised in Jacksonville and has followed the team as best as I could after leaving, I have been wishing for Tony Dungy to take over as head coach as far back as the Del Rio to SC rumors started. Do I need to wake up and smell the coffee or can I still dream?
John: Probably time to smell the coffee. Dungy would be an ideal choice, and he would fill and exceed every requirement Khan and Smith have in a coach, but I think it's a long shot for Dungy to ever coach again. I think it's a particular long shot as long as his son, Eric, is playing at the University of Oregon.
Andrew from St. Augustine, FL:
The more I hear from Khan, the more that I like him. I think the 'stache may be just what this organization needs, a breath of fresh air to lead us to a Super Bowl contender.
John: You are not alone.
Jeremiah from Atlantic Beach, FL:
When will people stop complaining about brutal NFL schedules? The Bucs game at home was a "BRUTAL" game at the beginning of the year! It's the NFL. They're all tough. Deal with it.
John: One of the silliest things fans and media do each year is to base schedule strength on the results of the previous season. The fact is you just never know beyond a few weeks out how difficult or easy a game may or may not be. Before last season, the game against Baltimore and the two against the Colts were seen as extremely difficult games and the road games at Cleveland and Carolina, for example, seemed "winnable" to most Jaguars observers. Circumstances changed to make the Indianapolis games much different and the Jaguars matched up very well and played very well against Baltimore. Your point, though, is dead on – in the NFL, all games are difficult. Play your schedule, go at least 3-1 in every quarter of the season and the rest takes care of itself.
Justin from Des Moines, IA:
Without question, our D was improved this year. All Jags fans can agree on that. But is our sixth-place ranking on defense partially a result of us never getting into (or having the ability to get into) an offensive shootout? While knowing our defense has improved greatly, I'm curious to find out if you think our bad offense contributed to our great defense. Thanks for giving us a daily glimpse into the organization this season.
John: Statistically, yes, because there's no question a team with a run-oriented, "slow-paced" offense is going to play in games with fewer plays than other teams and therefore give its defense fewer chances to allow yards. That said, when thinking of the defense this season, I thought less of how it was doing statistically than what I saw on the field. What I saw was pretty simple – a defense that for the most part played exceptionally well until about the last five games of the season. Not coincidentally, that's when injuries really began to be a factor. Anyone around the Jaguars' defense will tell you there are improvements needed, particularly at pass-rushing end, but I'd say when healthy it was among the Top 10 defenses in the NFL. After last season, that was the goal and to accomplish it was significant.
Fabian from Jacksonville:
Will you be doing any mock drafts?
John: AaarrrrrrgggggggggggggggghhhhhhhhHHH!!! . . . but yeah, we will.
Kait from Jacksonville:
I'm finding it very difficult to be around our own fans. The booing for one, makes me so angry I shake. Why does someone want to boo their own team!?! I may not like some of the things that are happening (dropped balls, injury, etc.), but to verbally bash them in the middle of a game is ridiculous to me. I'd say I'm ashamed to be a Jags Fan, but I love them way too much. How about, I'm embarrassed to be associated with these so-called Jags Fans? Can we draft some new fans this year, O-Man?
John: Jaguars fans are for the most part very good fans. They're not significantly different from any fans in that the vast majority are loyal and they want nothing more than for their team to perform at a high level – i.e., win every game 35-3. Besides, it's hard to blame the fans for booing this season. At times, there wasn't a lot to cheer. That's changing soon.
Cal from Jacksonville:
When did the fans become NFL experts? Half of us get our football knowledge from people in the media and have never even played or spent time around the sport. I wish Gene was perfect, but no one is. We as fans should lighten up and enjoy the team.
John: Fans become experts the day they become fans. It's what makes them so darned lovable.