Let's get to it . . . Buddy from Jacksonville:
Hey, O. Handicap the coaching race. Ple-e-e-ase!??
John: I'm not sure there's a race, per se. There seem to be four "big names" out there: Bill Cowher, Jeff Fisher, Jon Gruden and Tony Dungy. I don't think Dungy is a factor for reasons I'll discuss later in today's O-Zone, and I don't think Cowher will be, either. My impression with both Cowher and Gruden is they're locked into their TV jobs and enjoying them too much to come back this off-season. Of the four, I think Fisher has the best possibility to be in Jacksonville, though at this stage that's just speculation. Of the non-big names, I don't think you can discount Mel Tucker's chances. He has all the attributes Gene Smith seeks in a coach, and would seem at first glance to be someone who Shad Khan would very much consider if the circumstances dictated it. Beyond that, you're dipping into hot coordinator territory, and I'd expect more names on that as teams finish their seasons.
Johnny from Jacksonville:
To John Oehser and the Jaguars, Merry Christmas. John, I give you permission to not do an O Zone on Christmas Day....
John: Thanks, but no thanks, Johnny. The season ain't over and the streak ain't, either.
Joe from Jacksonville, NC:
I am about to lose my mind with all this Gabbert bashing. Take the Atlanta game as an example. I have yet to see a Jags receiver go up and make a catch like the ones Julio Jones made and I have yet to see the Jags receivers get separation like the Falcons receivers were on Thursday. Yes, Matt Ryan was playing well, but there were times his receivers were making him look amazing. Gabbert has made some pretty incredible throws and they are all usually in tight windows. Sure he has some bad passes – he is a rookie and they all do. His stats are not anything to go crazy over, but I have seen enough easy passes dropped to know he should probably have at least 40-60 more yards per game. I have also seen enough dropped passes in the end zone to guess his quarterback rating would be significantly higher if passes that should/could have been caught actually were. Now with all of that, our offense has been mediocre for years now. Is this more of an issue with how the Jags offense is run or are our players involved in the passing game just playing that poorly?
John: Right now, it's a combination. No matter who is here coaching, it's safe to say there will be significant change in the offense next season. And I agree with your assessment of Gabbert. It has become very vogue to bash him, and that's fine. He hasn't played as well as he had hoped. But without drops and with receivers getting open more, he would still be judged as having an average year. Get that moving in the right direction and give him an off-season. As I've said before, if those things happen and the results are the same, then we've got trouble. Until then, what we have is a young quarterback in a tough situation.
Paul from Arlington, VA:
John, I can't stop laughing about the CAT SIZE email you got. How do I stop?
John: Think about me working out. That will make you cry. Actually, it might make you laugh harder.
Jimmy from Alpharetta, GA:
I just listened to an interview with a certain morning QB, and Khan. Khan mentioned a key hire as the Assistant to the Traveling Secretary. I absolutely love this response and am particularly interested in this position with one question: Does the desk have a secret compartment installed?
John: It was a deft Seinfeld reference – further evidence that fans are going to like Shahid Khan.
Radley from Orange Park, FL:
Out of all the names tossed around for potential head coach candidates, we don't ever seem to throw Dungy's name in there. I'm sure you could speak in much more detail about him, but just out of the times I've seen him in on television, he definitely comes across as a high-integrity guy. He said he doesn't plan to comeback during his interview on Pardon the Interruption, and I'm sure before that, but everyone has a price, right? What do you think the chances are he could be wooed back and how active do you think Shad would be in pursuing Mr. Dungy for the position?
John: I haven't discussed Dungy yet in this process, but because I have received more than a few questions regarding him, I will. I'll use up some space with the answer, because I plan to address it this once, then put it away. First off, you mentioned integrity. I've never met anyone in or out of coaching whose integrity matches Dungy's. As far as on the field, I believe unequivocally Dungy is the best coach not coaching and I'm not sure he's not the best coach if you include coaches who are coaching. He won with Tampa and he won with Indianapolis, doing so with two completely different styles and environments. My view obviously is skewed because I covered his teams for seven years, but when it comes to the qualities you want – and that Khan and Gene Smith seek – in a coach, he has them in abundance. If I had to pick anyone to coach the Jaguars, Dungy would absolutely be the first choice and if Khan asked me what his first move in the coaching search should be, I'd say to call Dungy and offer whatever it took. I firmly believe Dungy's that good, that he would have that much of a positive effect on the culture of the building and I believe the Jaguars would push double-digit victories and have a chance to be in the post-season next season. Now, all of that said, I don't think Dungy can be had this off-season. He has said he doesn't plan to return to coaching, and from my many conversations with him through the years, I believe that to be true. I also believe there's a chance he may return to coaching someday because I never have been around a coach who so thoroughly enjoys every aspect of coaching. He is at ease in the position, and because of his personality, it doesn't drain the life from him as it does other coaches. But as I said, I don't believe he can be had this off-season or next off-season, because his son, Eric, is still in college at Oregon. If – and it remains a very big if – he ever returns, I can't imagine it would be until after Eric is done playing. There. We'll move on.
Tom from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
As for the Jags playing overseas for one game, the Jags could be the away team and then we would not lose our two pre-season or eight regular season home games, correct?
John: Correct, but an issue for the NFL has been finding teams willing to give up a home game. Judging by Khan's comments, he sounds willing to consider the idea.
Biff from Jacksonville:
So let's take this nugget and run with it. Should the Jaguars win their final two games they would finish with a winning record in the AFC South for only the second time since its inception. Amidst a season which has brought with it little to take from, this would be a nice accomplishment. First season sweep of the Colts would be an additional jewel. Yes I know it is sans Manning but you take what you can get.
John: Indeed you do.
Charles from Midlothian, VA:
With everyone saying we should get RG3, I have a question. When RG3 proves he is a ROOKIE QUARTERBACK, and is running for his life because his wide receivers can't get open and he has no pass protection, should we go and get a third quarterback the next year? Just curious when it stops. Just how many Top 10 quarterback picks should the Jaguars get before the fans realize we need to develop the talent we have?
John: The question you have is a good one, with some foresight. That's not something a lot of fans have, but it's something general managers are paid to use. As I've said before, if Gene Smith looks at this year's draft and has a chance at a quarterback his research tells him will be better than Blaine Gabbert, Smith certainly has an obligation to take him. If not then he has an equal obligation to go whatever direction will help the franchise the most – no matter the reaction of fans.
Don from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
True idiots believe a coach's name and image and profile is not important. Coaches in the NFL are all good. Some have more luck than others landing a quarterback that will define their career. If you are trying to cross a landmine field would you get a guy who thinks he can make it or one who has been across already? Big name, and a big resume is what I am looking for. Coaches do not win games, they put players in position to win games. There is no secret coaching skills that get a bad team over the hump. Let the fans vote for the new coach. That would be just fine for me.
John: Speaking of true idiots . . .
John from Ponte Vedra, FL:
Riddle me this, O-Dude - what coach in their right mind wouldn't love to come into a situation where they inherit a Top Five defense, the league's leading rusher, a Pro Bowl tight end, and a young QB with mad skills? Are you kiddin' me? Even better - they get a young roster with no Divas or Cancers, a top personnel guy, a new owner with deep pockets, and a team that never quit at any point in a long and difficult season. I would think Mr. Khan will have his pick of anyone he wants. I just don't see a lot of down side that can't be addressed in a draft or two at the most - am I off base here? What am I missing? Are the "name" guys just posturing by feigning non-interest? How can we expect this to play out?
John: I don't know that there's a whole lot of posturing either way yet. We're early in the process. Khan has made it clear he will be heavily involved in the process, and early indications are he is doing the proper research. Combine that with a feeling I get that he is a good judge of people and it's hard for me to believe the process won't be thorough with the hire made for the right reasons. And all of your points? They're dead-on. This is a good job. It was that way anyway, and Khan almost certainly makes it better. One thing about the search to remember: I don't see it being played out in the media. When the coach is hired, people will know, but it doesn't seem like it's going to be a process with a whole lot of information leaking out beforehand. Just a heads up.
Joni from Jacksonville:
My friends and I got a tour of EverBank Field. We passed by your office and the door was cracked open. I was going to knock, but I didn't want to interrupt you in case you were napping or something.
John: If it you were later in the day, you probably would have been OK. I usually only nap between about 10 and four-ish.
Laying out the nap schedule
Let's get to it . . . Buddy from Jacksonville: