Let's get to it . . . Ricky from Miramar, FL:
John, what's the update with the coaching search?
John: Just as Owner Shad Khan moved quickly with the general manager search, it appears new General Manager Dave Caldwell is doing the same with the head coaching search. Though there are no reports of interviews having been held, Caldwell reportedly plans to interview St .Louis Rams offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, Jaguars defensive coordinator Mel Tucker, Falcons special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong, Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden and Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy. He also reportedly is interested in interviewing 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman. It sounds like this will pick up significantly early this week, and I'd be surprised if a head coach isn't in place by next weekend. Purely a guess. Stay tuned.
Jerry from Orlando, FL:
What's up with interviewing Mel Tucker for the head coaching position? Why even bother?
John: This has been a theme from fans this week, and even some in the media, who have portrayed Tucker interviewing for the position as a joke – and at the very least, as a Rooney Rule fulfillment. My understanding is it's no joke – and it certainly has nothing to do with the Rooney Rule. Tucker has no interest in interviewing to fulfill a team's Rooney Rule requirement and Caldwell didn't need to interview Tucker to fulfill it. He already reportedly is interviewing Falcons special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong, an interview that would fulfill the Rooney Rule. Caldwell has no association with Tucker and is interviewing him not as a favor or obligation – he obviously showed no obligation to former Head Coach Mike Mularkey – but because he is a viable candidate. Now, would I be surprised if Tucker got the job? Yes, I would be. Is the interview a joke or a waste of time? No, on both questions. Caldwell owes it to himself to be thorough, and in head coaching interviews, you never know what happens once a candidate gets in the room with those hiring.
Joshua from Tucson, AZ:
I heard David Caldwell say Blaine is the second-youngest quarterback in the league. It sounds like he might not be giving up on him yet. Can we take anything away from what was said?
John: It's the nature of an introductory press conference that all that is said gets analyzed and scrutinized. That is as it should be. What we heard definitively from David Caldwell's press conference Thursday was that Tim Tebow won't be in Jacksonville. Beyond that, it seems Blaine Gabbert will be part of a quarterback competition that may include Chad Henne and could include either a free agent or a rookie. That's a vague answer, but Caldwell hasn't even hired a head coach, so at this point the vision by definition must have room for many options. I expect Blaine Gabbert to be part of the equation at quarterback and to have a chance to prove himself. Who else is part of it remains to be seen. Caldwell is still in the stage of analyzing the roster, and while he certainly has his thoughts on quarterbacks, there are no guarantees about just who he will be able to get, or who the new coach will want. This will be a topic through the offseason, and I wouldn't expect resolution for a while.
Hill from Northridge, CA:
How will personnel decisions be made with regards to roster decisions and the draft? Does Caldwell have full reign or will Khan and/or our new head coach be involved as well?
John: As Shad Khan laid it out, the Jaguars' new head coach will report to Caldwell, and presumably that will give Caldwell final say on personnel matters. Khan as the owner of the team can pretty much have whatever input he wants, but so far it has been Khan's approach to let football people make football decisions. He knows enough to know what he doesn't know and he hires the football people for a reason. The head coach certainly will be involved, but roster decisions are often seen as one person making it in a heavy-handed way regardless of whether others agree or not. Usually, it's not the case. Ideally, the decision comes at the end of a lot of discussion that includes a general agreement between many people, including the head coach and the general manager. When Bill Polian and Tony Dungy, for example, worked together in Indianapolis, Polian had final say over personnel decisions, but he also knew it did little good to draft a player that the coaching staff didn't believe in.
Aaron from Jacksonville:
How did you hurt your knee drinking beer and typing?
John: Those walks to the garage refrigerator are more treacherous than they look.
Duran from Rapid City, SD:
Nick Saban recently said he does not want to coach in the NFL. His reason was interesting, and a bit enlightening. He said it's more difficult to find and coach talent, when at the end of the day the player is ultimately contributing effort for themselves, their own careers, because the NFL when you boil it down is a business. I think this goes overlooked, almost forgotten by most fans. It must be tremendously challenging to get a group of players that are equally committed to the team as much as they are securing their needs.
John: There's some truth to what Saban said, though with the level of player he recruits to Alabama it's unrealistic to think many of those players aren't thinking as much about their own careers as they are the glory of the Crimson Tide. The NFL is more difficult for a coach such as Saban because it's more difficult to build a roster that is clearly more talented than the vast majority of the teams you play. In the NFL, the reality is most rosters are relatively equal with the main difference being the quarterback. Saban is indeed a great coach, but in the NFL the greatest of coaches can still struggle to win without an elite quarterback. That's not nearly as true in the college game.
Bruce from Mississauga, Ontario:
I think it is obvious what brought the downfall of both Gene Smith and Mike Mularkey was the comments they made as to how close this team was. Mr. Khan alluded to it clearly in his press conference and he clearly held them responsible for those comments. Thoughts?
John: I think you're putting a little too much stock in those comments. I had no problem with Mike Mularkey and Gene Smith saying the team was close. Their job was to win games and you can't ask players to try to win if you go around saying, "We're terrible; we have no chance." The reality is the Jaguars should have been more competitive than they were this season, and they easily could have been. They lost three overtime games and if healthy, they could have won one or two more. So, they could have been a six- or seven-victory team. What they weren't close to was being an elite team, and because that's the ultimate goal, something had to be done to get them moving in that direction. But I don't think Khan made the moves because Smith and Mularkey said they were close. I think he made the move because he believed a new direction was needed.
Blake from Jacksonville:
I am sorry to see both Gene and Mike go. A lot of things contributed to the lack of success for the Jaguars, many of which were not their fault. I also like Caldwell and good for him for addressing the Tebow situation. No GM deserves to have their job dictated to them by a segment of the fan base. On a very simple note, change can't continue to be the only source of excitement for the Jaguars. The excitement needs to start to come from something else. We don't need to necessarily make or compete for the playoffs, but we need to start climbing the mountain again rather than sliding down it.
John: No question about it. There was an excitement and energy after Caldwell's press conference, and there should have been. He showed confidence, and we saw a glimpse of why he impressed Shad Khan during the interview process. That's important. A general manager has to show leadership. As you say, though, the excitement of an offseason only goes so far. There was a lot of excitement last offseason and it faded quickly with the struggles of the regular season. The climb up the mountain may take a while, but it does need to begin now.
Jon from Nijmegen, Netherlands:
Regarding the coaching search. I am sure all of us Jaguars fans will be looking for the next "big name hire" but I was wondering if you think Caldwell will be looking for a fresh face (i.e. not within the NFL coaching carousel)? It seems that Coughlin was picked out of college without a huge (advertised) pedigree and was highly successful. I would say the same with Tomlin in Pittsburgh. Any feel for how Caldwell sees the world?
John: He said Thursday experience isn't a prerequisite. The names that are being linked to the position generally are young guys without head coaching experience. It would appear that Caldwell and Khan want a young, up-and-comer to build this thing fresh, but we'll see.
Jeff from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
Why would a general manager and an NFL team ever make a statement that he had interest in another player who is under contract with another team? If the Jets release TT or offer him in a trade then the interest steps up if it makes sense. Why drive TT trade $$$ up before the negotiations start?
John: Dave Caldwell's words were pretty clear. I wouldn't overthink this one.
Don't overthink it
Let's get to it . . . Ricky from Miramar, FL: