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Let the fun begin

Let's get to it . . . Corey from Orange Park, FL:
If a coach makes the playoffs five years in a row and never wins one, would firing him honestly be the best option? Watching games this weekend, it came clear to me that luck does play into your team winning a Super Bowl or even getting there. So, would you say there would ever be any reason to fire a coach who regularly makes the playoffs but rarely wins any?
John: From an objective, journalistic point of view, I would be in favor of keeping the coach in your scenario. The reason for that is I believe the objective for a wise, winning, consistent organization in the NFL these days is to position your franchise to be in the post-season as often as possible with the idea that in seasons when you're healthy and playing well late you will have a chance to win the Super Bowl. The Steelers, to me, seem to define this approach and there are other franchises that follow it. When I say "from an objective, journalistic point of view" what I mean is if I were the owner of such a team or a fan of such a team I can't say I wouldn't feel differently. There is certainly frustration that builds when a franchise gets close and can't win the Super Bowl and that frustration often leads to firings. Usually, that sort of firing is premature; the firing of Tony Dungy in Tampa Bay comes to mind. Patience usually pays dividends in that situation, but it's the rare team that can block out pleas from fans and act patiently and prudently.
Randy from Oxford, PA:
Let's continue the OT question one more day. What if the first team to possess the ball fumbles or throws an interception, then during the return the defense turns the ball back over to the offense? Does that count as an opportunity to possess and the offense only needs a FG to win now?
John: It is an opportunity to possess. And yes, the offense needs only a field goal to win.
Tudor from St. Augustine, FL:
For all these mistakes the losing teams made, refs made them too. You don't like my thoughts on the Pats game, fine. But don't tell me that wasn't a fumble by Bradshaw in the NFC Championship Game. There needs to be some sort of suspension or penalization system for referees who make crap calls that change games. Forward progress my bunions,that was a fumble.
John: I'm sorry to hear about your bunions. They can be very painful. But forward progress was stopped and the whistle blew. No fumble. That's the rule, so until it's changed, the call was correct.
Pete from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
Watched ESPN and the "rumor mill" said that the Jags were looking to give up picks in the draft for Tebow under the guise of selling tickets. I for one will NEVER buy a ticket again should Gene make THAT boneheaded move. Stay the course, Gene.
John: I fear many things in life; the world is a scary place. I'm not scared of saying you'll be able to keep buying tickets.
Ron from Asheville, NC:
I recall you saying that you should draft a receiver, because so many fail when acquired through free agency. I tend to agree with that based on looking at all the free-agent receivers, and how poorly they fared with their new teams. The hot name right now is Colston when it comes to speculating who the Jags will target. I see major disappointment, a lot of wasted money, and fans ranting to fire Gene Smith. What changed your line of well thought out thinking, based on fact and common sense, to grabbing a high-priced receiver in free agency?
John: Not sure I ever said the Jaguars "should" draft a receiver, but if I did, I did. Here's the issue when it comes to free agency and receivers: The argument for pursuing a free-agent receiver is the Jaguars need immediate help at the position and it's rare for a rookie to provide that sort of immediate impact. The Jaguars believe in filling need in free agency and drafting best available player, so it seems logical that wide receivers will be a target in free agency. The argument against is that free agents are high risk, particularly at the receiver position. Then again, the same is true of rookies at the position. Receivers are hard to find. They're high risk and there are a lot of busts in free agency and the draft. The bottom line is if the Jaguars pursue it in free agency they need to research it carefully and make the right decision – as is pretty much the case with any free agent.
Nate from Tampa, FL:
GM Gene mentioned that relationships with players begin when they're coming out of college and that that helps when dealing with the pro free-agency period. Would the Poz be a good example of this? I remember hearing they liked him coming out of Penn State.
John: Poz is absolutely an example. General managers and scouts spend a significant amount of time leading up to the draft talking to players. In one sense, teams are interviewing players, but the people representing teams also have a chance to make an impression on players, and that could help that player know something about that team down the road when it comes to free agency.
Al from Fruit Cove, FL:
In reading the article on Peyton Manning, he said that he's been working out every day at the Colts' facility with Colts' coaches (or ex-coaches). How is that legal for him, when other players are not allowed to do that before April?
John: Players cannot work out with position coaches until April. Strength and conditioning coaches can monitor player workouts to prevent injury.
Ron from Orlando, FL:
With all the Peyton hoopla in the news, you want to know what struck me? His comment saying that "I'm in the facility everyday" and that they know where to find him. Before knowing that he was at the Colts facility, I wanted to write to the O-Zone and say that I'd bet Peyton would be working on getting better during his vacation. What a shock: That's the difference between an ELITE QB and a mediocre rookie QB. The Elite QB will be at the facility doing what it takes to get better.
John: Manning is at the facility because he is trying to get healthy from a major, career-threatening neck injury. Gabbert is not at the Jaguars' facility in January because he is not trying to rehabilitate to be physically ready for next season. Look, I'm not going to say Gabbert doesn't need to improve, but let's be fair. He's not supposed to be practicing at the facility and therefore is not. Manning also is not at the Colts' facility practicing. Criticize Gabbert all you want, but to use a story that Manning is rehabbing as a way to criticize Gabbert's off-season approach is completely off-base and without merit.
Jordan from Pittsburgh, PA:
Is Ryan Robinson the Egg McMuffin of understudies? If the current regime bombs, will he and Mel both be promoted from within?
John: I don't know that he is the Egg McMuffin of understudies. I do know that he gets easily distracted if you say, "Egg McMuffin," around him. I also know there is a famous bakery shop in Mobile, Ala., that we pass on the way to Senior Bowl practice every day. Ryan drove Tuesday and we passed it. I doubt the same will be true Wednesday.
Adam from New York, NY:
Great interview with Terry McDonough. Brought a lot of quick questions to mind. Do the scouts watch Jaguars games and continually assess players? Or is that just for Gene/Mularkey and the coaches? How involved will Mularkey and Shad Khan be in free agent and draft decisions? Bonus thought: I know you like Reggie Wayne but I hope you know a lot of Jags fans will be hesitant. Not because he's a Colt, either. See: Torry Holt.
John: Scouts certainly monitor Jaguars games, but in terms of assessing players to decide if they remain with the team, the bulk of that decision-making is done at the top with Smith and Mularkey after discussions with the scouts. Mularkey and Khan certainly will be intimately involved. People often ask who has final say, but the reality in that situation is there usually is a consensus reached after hours and days of discussion and study. As for your bonus thought, I have spoken highly of Wayne as a person and think he may be someone the Jaguars pursue. As for whether he has anything left physically, and as for whether the Jaguars actually would pursue him or not, the Jaguars' personnel people obviously will make that assessment of any free agent and act accordingly.
Jeff from Fullerton, CA:
Have the Jaguars ever won a game with a left-handed quarterback. There's not many in the league; do you see this happening in the future?
John: Good one, Jeff. Let the fun begin.
Matthew from Tallahassee, FL:
What happened to "You have been heard?" That was the highest honor to bestow on someone in The Ozone.
John: Huh?

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