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Heading out

Let's get to it . . . Andy from St. Johns, FL:
One of the biggest disappointments of this season was the punt/kick return play. We never really had many "big" returns in either aspect, which could have helped the offense with the advantage of field position. How does this get corrected for next season? Did we give up on McGee too early? If we get a true No. 1 wide receiver, will that allow Mike Thomas to be more involved with the return game?
John: Without question the lack of big plays on special teams has been a disappointment. This is a team that knew it needed to be well-above average on special teams to be successful this season, and for most of the season, that clearly wasn't the case. Some of it was losing the off-season and a lot of it was injuries that began with Montell Owens and Kassim Osgood early in the season and never seemed to stop. It gets corrected the way anything does, by focusing on the area, and working to improve. I don't think releasing Scotty McGee was a problem. He hadn't done much in the preseason and often, the addition or subtraction of a returner doesn't make a dramatic difference in the return game anyway. Usually, good special teams happen when a team has a lot of players who have played together on the unit for an extended period. That usually leads to cohesive blocking and coverage, and partially because of injuries, that didn't seem to happen enough for the Jaguars this season. As for Thomas, yes, it would seem that if the Jaguars add to their receiving corps as many expect them to, he would likely have a chance to focus more on returning punts.
Mike from Rochester, NY:
I think a lot of fans forget a major part of free agency. It isn't just about the Jags willing to go spend the money on big name players; the players also have to want to come play here. I do believe the arrow is pointing up for the Jags, but a lot of big name free agents may not want to come to a team that only won a handful of games.
John: Mike, Mike, Mike . . . There's no state tax in Florida and there is an owner who wants to win and will be willing to spend money to do it. Remember: it's professional football and in professional football, if you're payin', they're playin'.
Joe from Orange Park, FL:
How would you describe the play of safety Dawan Landry this season? Is he a keeper?
John: Very good. Absolutely.
Steve from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
Do you think Rashean Mathis will return? I am a bit surprised of your assessment of the offensive line. There were a number of times Gabbert had no time to do anything except run for his life. Admittedly, they did a good job blocking for the run, but the pass protection was not good.
John: Mathis' future is hard to predict. A lot of the meetings that will lead to such decisions haven't yet taken place, and may not until a decision is made on the future of the coaching staff. I believe there's a chance, but it would have to be done at the right price, and there would be risk involved considering his age and the ACL tear that ended his 2011 season. As for the offensive line, yes, there were times the protection struggled, but there's a big difference between an aging pieced-together line that just can't play and a young one that is still improving. Players such as Eugene Monroe and Will Rackley are still on the upswing, and guard Uche Nwaneri had his best year. Center Brad Meester was solid again, while tackle Guy Whimper appeared to struggle late after a good start. Add a healthy Britton to that mix at right tackle and you have the foundation of a group that has the potential to grow together and improve. The offensive line is about cohesion and with Rackley being a rookie and Britton being injured early, that took some time to happen this season.
Andrew from Toledo, OH:
Wouldn't it be wise for the Jags to hire an offensive-minded head coach? Aren't most of the defensive head coaches failing right now?
John: This is one of those topics where there's often a disconnect between perception and reality. The media and fans talk about a coach needing to be offensive- or defensive-minded while the reality is what wins is a talented team with a coach who can set a standard, establish a sound structure and create a winning environment. The best coaches are the ones whose teams you watch play and you don't know what "kind" of a coach they are. Bill Belichick is a "defensive guy" who has won with defensive-oriented teams and offensive-oriented teams, and Tony Dungy was the same way. I wouldn't put Brian Billick on par with Dungy or Belichick, but he was an offensive guy who adapted and won a Super Bowl in Baltimore with a great defense. Create a winning environment, hire good assistants and draft good players. The style will take care of itself.
Mike from Jacksonville:
MJD NOT A STARTER? WHAT KNUCKLEHEAD DECIDED THAT? Sorry for shouting, but that's way past insane.
John: NO PROBLEM! And you're right. It is insane.
Joe from Fleming Island, FL:
Your predecessor had a saying, "players play and coaches coach." However, I would think that one of the best things to happen to MJD was having Freddie T. as a role model. Do you agree or is "role model" overnblown? How much has Blaine Gabbert suffered from the on-the-field role modeling that a real starter would have provided?
John: Players play and coaches coach. There's a bit to be gained from a young player being around an older player who knows where the bathrooms are, but most development comes from maturity, coaching and desire to improve. I suppose it might have helped had Gabbert worked with a big-time veteran starter, but Peyton Manning never did, and he turned out OK.
Charles from Midlothian, VA:
I went into the Ozone looking for more John O self deprecating humor, since I figured you might have been addressing one of your own trends. Oh well, after almost a full season, I'm getting the feeling I am starting to know you, and sure there has to be something your involved with that is built on laziness.
John: I indeed should have addressed laziness as one of my own trends Wednesday. Why didn't I? It wasn't as much laziness as not wanting to work that hard.
Russell from Jacksonville:
How do you think Marty Schottenheimer would fit with the Jaguars and what they are looking for in a head coach? The team appears to already be set up for his style of coaching. Good run game to set up pass, and strong defense. He is a proven winner and has not been sitting out of coaching as long as Cowher and he is the one who taught Bill how to coach. I think he would fit the team perfectly.
John: I'm a big admirer of Schottenheimer and think he is a far better coach than most people realize. He knows how to coach pro football players and he knows how to create a winning structure. His teams are also very, very consistent, which I like. That said, I don't see it happening. I don't know how much longer Schottenheimer wants to coach, and you'd think the ideal candidate would be younger with more coaching seasons ahead of him.
Brian from Charlottesville, VA:
So I saw Braylon Edwards was released. I'm sure you're received a ton of clamoring for us to sign him. Well let me say, NO THANKS! I've seen enough drops from our WRs this year. No need to bring someone in who's known for the same issue.
John: Yes, got some emails about Edwards. No, not worried about that.
Al from Fruit Cove Springs, FL:
How soon after the first of the year do you expect the Jags to name a new coach? How long can they wait before it starts to have a negative impact? Can Gene Smith successfully go after free agents if they don't know who the coach will be, and he doesn't know if the coach will want them? I'd love for you to tell me that the "stealth" coaching search will bear fruit in the next few weeks. Wishful thinking.
John: I think the Jaguars will move quickly, and it's my guess they'll get something done somewhere between mid- and late-January. That's a perfectly fine pace, and really, the main concern is to get something done quickly enough to put together a good coaching staff. There wouldn't be a concern on the free-agency front unless it lingered into mid-February, which won't happen.
Christian from Chicago, IL:
Great first year O-man. Could you please explain the process by which teams accrue compensatory picks when their free agents are signed by another team?
John: Teams get compensatory selections when players leave via unrestricted free agency, with a UFA signing in the 2012 off-season potentially yielding a compensatory selection in the 2013 draft. The selections are awarded based on an unspecified formula that rarely makes any team particularly happy.
David from Meridian, ID:
John: I'm out.

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