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Knowing what you don't know

Let's get to it . . . Wesley from Tell City, IN:
Wow. I was expecting the head coaching hire next week – after the championship games – and, just like that, a hire gets made. On Thursday morning. And a guy I'd barely heard of. What do you think of this Gus Bradley guy, Ozone?
John: I have no problem with the hire at all. He seems to be a guy with energy, who knows how to coach defense and who knows how to lead. He also seems to have all of the prerequisites, which is all you can ask on the date of the hire. As for your "surprise," the hire seems to have surprised many people, and that's OK. That's not a huge issue in the big picture. Because of the intense scrutiny and widespread speculation that goes on during a coaching search, media focuses on names and fans understandably get attached to certain ideas. Often, the most familiar names or those mentioned earliest become the expected hires, and people convince themselves those are the best hires when there's no way to really know in advance. Few people in Jacksonville, for example, knew who David Caldwell was on December 31; eight days later there was much consternation among the fan base when it appeared he might go to the Jets. It took just eight days for people to fall in love with the idea. Much the same happened with the idea of Greg Roman, who few in Jacksonville knew much about two weeks ago. Don't forget: Gus Bradley's defense stifled Greg Roman's offense this season. That means about as much as who we've all heard of, but the point is this: it's not necessarily about the move people expect or want. It's about getting the hire right, and now we'll all watch and find out if that happened.
Stew from Jacksonville:
Would Greg Roman ever consider making a lateral move to be with his bud? Would Caldwell make that extension?
John: That's extremely unlikely. First, the Jaguars would have to request permission to speak with Roman and because he is under contract, there's little reason the San Francisco 49ers would grant that request. Second, Roman is almost certainly to be much-talked about next season, and you would think he would get a head job in the 2014 offseason. He's in a good situation with a high-functioning offense. Why would he leave that for a lateral move?
Steve from Jacksonville:
On the intro to Jags This Week, Boselli really needs a title. Maybe something like, "Jaguars' Great: Tony Boselli." What do you think?
John: That's amazing you mentioned that. That's exactly how he introduces himself to people he doesn't know.
Benjamin from Jacksonville:
I understand a lateral move in hiring Jay Gruden as the Jaguars' next offensive coordinator would likely be blocked by the Bengals. However, what if the Jaguars were to assign him the title of "Assistant Head Coach," as well as offensive coordinator? Would that still be considered a lateral move?
John: Yes, anything that isn't a promotion to a head coach is considered a lateral move and can be blocked.
Frank St. Augustine, FL:
Now we have a new motto: "In Gus We Trust!" How about, "Dave's all the rage? Or, "Dave's my fave?" Or, "Gus drives the bus." Oh my goodness.
Jeff from Fullerton, CA:
Joe Flacco - tied for most road playoff victories in history. Show me some more quarterbacks that are among the worst that do that.
John: I made light of the Joe Flacco bashing in Thursday's Ozone, but what I didn't say is I have a lot of respect for Flacco. Not everybody comes into the league and is immediately a consensus elite guy. Some have to grow into the role. Flacco seems to improve steadily and has guided his team to the playoffs regularly and has solidified the Ravens' quarterback position. He also appears to be improving and it's not absurd to think he continues to improve and become elite. If I was a general manager, I wouldn't be crushed if he was my quarterback.
Steve from Jacksonville:
Dear John, girls will ruin your life.
John: Everyone needs a motto. You've happened upon mine.
Marjorie from Jacksonville:
It is perplexing when Heisman Trophy winners do not transfer well into the NFL, yes?
John: It is to some people. It's usually not that perplexing to scouts and people within the NFL. The NFL and college football often are two different games, with the speed and size of NFL players making it difficult for some types of players to fare well in professional football however special they may have been collegiately.
Jojo from Jacksonville:
How come we aren't going to give Greg Roman a chance? We just hired Bradley as new HC. Same with Tebow – didn't give him a chance to compete for the quarterback position. I am not liking the impatience of our team's new direction.
John: What you see as impatience the Jaguars saw as hiring the guy they felt was right. Caldwell knew Roman well, and knew Keith Armstrong in Atlanta well. He didn't need an interview to consider them. He interviewed Bradley, believed him right for the job and made the hire. That's not impatience. That's just the process.
Lee from Jacksonville:
Wait, Gus Bradley? I thought it was who you roomed with in college that determined who would get a head coaching job in the NFL.
John: Good one. People assumed Greg Roman would be the choice, doing so because it seemed like a no-brainer with Roman's resume and the roommate connection with Caldwell. But if coaching searches teach us anything it's that there's no sure thing. First, Caldwell had to make a call that will define his career, so he had to pick the best guy, not the best friend. Second, sometimes friendship and work don't mix. It's one thing to hire a friend. It's another to have to one day fire him.
Max from Logan, UT:
John, this is your second head coach and second regime during your two years as senior writer. Has this stifled your development? I am hoping you can still develop into your full potential.
John: Unfortunately for me, I think I've already reached it.
Tery from Jacksonville:
I wonder if in the interview process certain questions are asked to find out how the candidate may feel about the franchise. Like if they looked at it as severely troubled or as an opportunity for him to show his ability to make us more competitive. Like a glass half empty or full.
John: It wouldn't be surprising if the subject of how the candidate feels about the organization came up, but it would be surprising if a candidate thought of the Jaguars as severely troubled. Perhaps there is a perception to that effect nationally, but any general manager or head coach would be foolish to have that view. The Jaguars have a dynamic owner in his second year, a solid cap situation and are one of 32 NFL teams. Every franchise goes through down cycles. This is the "downest" cycle in franchise history, but there's nothing in the water, the logo or the hallway to make this a troubled organization. A general manager and a coach in this league can win anywhere if they have the support of ownership. That's without question the case here.
Brett from Ridgeland, MS:
Bradley is a good hire. If you can find a good quarterback, you can win without an offensive-minded head coach. However, you must be able to stop the elite quarterbacks and his defense in Seattle has done that pretty well this year. Combine him with a second overall pick of Moore (DE from Texas A&M) and I think we could be a top-tier defense very soon.
John: Don't get too locked in to offensive- or defensive-minded head coach. A head coach's job isn't to coordinate the offense or defense. It's to coach the team, make leadership, big-picture decisions and to lead players. Will he have input into the offense or defense? Without question, but he shouldn't be so immersed in game-planning or installing schemes that he misses the bigger picture of his job, which is to lead 60 players through a long, grueling season. Bill Belichick isn't a "defensive" coach just because he was a defensive coordinator, and although Tony Dungy was a "defensive coach" when hired in Indianapolis, the team had very much an offensive identity in his tenure. Dungy once told me the biggest mistake that many head coaches make is failing to realize they're no longer coordinators, and he believed the two jobs were very different. The success of a head coach moving from a coordinator role often depends on the coach realizing he's in a new position with different job requirements.
Sam from Boston, MA:
Unless Gus is a mule who can kick a field goal from 80 yards, this is a typically bad hire for Jacksonville. I know nobody with true coaching stripes is going to come to Jax. But to hire a defensive assistant with no head coaching experience and almost no NFL experience is a slap in the face of the fans. At least we won't have to get used to the continued losing. What a shame. Seventeen days and all we get is this nobody? Pathetic.
John: Vince Lombardi, Hank Stram, Don McCafferty, Tom Landry, Chuck Noll, John Madden, Tom Flores, Joe Gibbs, Mike Ditka, Bill Parcells, George Seifert, Mike Holmgren, Brian Billick, Bill Cowher, Mike Tomlin, Sean Peyton and Mike McCarthy. Sorry, I was just listing the NFL coaches who have won Super Bowls with teams that hired them despite having no NFL head coaching experience and no Division I head coaching experience. I get your unhappiness, though. I was a Redskins fan when they hired Joe Gibbs and I was upset and lukewarm about the hire. Back then, I didn't know enough to know what I didn't know; I was just fortunate enough the internet wasn't around to give what I didn't know a public forum.

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