INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Happy New Year. One more Game Day.
Let's get to it … Jeremy from Dodge City, KS:
John, with your infinite wisdom, will we make playoffs next year?
John: Judging by comments and emails I receive throughout the season, your definition of "infinite wisdom" differs from many others … but that's OK: It's a new year, so maybe I'll be better in 2017. As for my expectations for the Jaguars in 2017, we're so far from next season with so much change ahead that it's hard to predict. I will say I will be surprised if the Jaguars aren't .500 or right around it next season. I thought this team was about a .500 team this season except for quarterback play, some pass-rush and discipline issues and some pretty glaring special-teams issues – with a heavy, heavy emphasis on quarterback play. Overall, though, this season to me was defined by the seven consecutive one-possession/fourth-quarter losses to contending teams in October, November and December. My feeling was those losses were the sign of a team getting closer to contending. The 38-17 victory over a playoff-contending Tennessee team on Christmas Eve heightened that feeling. I think there's a good chance many of this season's fourth-quarter losses can becomes next season's fourth-quarter victories. As far as the playoffs? Let's let the Jaguars reach .500 first. One step at a time.
Chad from EverBank:
I heard a comment made on the radio this week stating basically that there are people who think Shad Khan is being cheap in his efforts with the Jaguars. I've never heard this before, and was amazed that someone – anyone – would think that. Have you heard such nonsense being floated around? We can cite all the efforts and money he has invested to no end: His passion for owning an NFL team, his passion for Jacksonville, his willingness to invest money without a surefire guarantee for success. Are people really blaming Khan's spending for our woes? Ridiculous.
John: "Ridiculous" indeed is a good word here. That's not surprising. There was a lot of "ridiculous" going on this week.
Mike from Atlanta, GA:
Do you think the new head coach will implement his own defensive scheme, or keep the current one? I feel like the personnel here is built to play Cover 3. We have corners, particularly Ramsey, who don't need safety help, so it would seem like an inefficient use of his talents in a Cover 2. I think the front seven would be fine in either scheme, but I think the secondary is built to play single high safety. What are your thoughts on a possible defensive scheme change?
John: I think I don't know much about the Jaguars' next defensive scheme because I don't know the identity of the new head coach. That's not a snide or evasive answer, but it's difficult if not impossible to accurately predict the Jaguars' next offensive or defensive scheme until we have at least a sniff of an idea about the next head coach and coordinators.
Joshua from Pittsburgh, PA:
Are we going to TALK about those Kelvin Beachum comments on Sirius Radio? New, Earth-shattering coaching philosophy … WINNING. This makes Gus look bad.
John: When your record is 14-48 as a head coach, most everything said in the wake of your firing is going to make you look bad. When the team you were coaching wins convincingly in the game after your departure, people are going to write and say things that you did wrong and the new guy did right. Look, Bradley lost too many games as the Jaguars' head coach and people are going to believe what they want about him. His will not be a winning legacy. And Marrone did a nice job last week. But Bradley believed in winning just as much as Marrone and just as much as any coach. His approach of emphasizing improvement and process as a means to winning was not novel and does not make him unique. It also did not mean he didn't want to win, and it doesn't mean that winning wasn't the goal. He didn't win enough. That's clear. But not saying the word often enough isn't why he lost. I mean, does anyone really think NFL players don't understand that the idea is to win?
Ronnie from Jacksonville:
I have to disagree about quarterback play having a greater effect on the Cowboys' success. Looking at the rushing stats, 2015: 408 attempts, 94 rushing 1st downs, 8 TDs vs 2016: 478 (and counting) attempts, 24 (and counting) rushing TDs and 138 (and counting) rushing 1st downs. I'd say it's safe to believe the much better rushing game helped make the passing game better. What say you?
John: I say the Cowboys were a good rushing team last season and went 4-12. They are a very good rushing team this season and are 13-2, so there's no question the running game has been a positive factor. But I also say the Cowboys have gone from a negative touchdown-interception ratio last season to a 24-4 touchdown-interception ratio this season – and quarterbacking in the NFL trumps all else. Drafting running back in the Top 10 is a luxury that a team with an elite offensive line can sometimes afford. Otherwise …
Kris from Copenhagen, Denmark:
Happy New Year's O, rumor is Tom Coughlin is already out of the picture. Which coach do you see will accept the job, considering (as you said, Bortles will be next year's quarterback) the chance of choosing their own quarterback option isn't likely?
John: Your question assumes a few things that I don't know can be assumed yet. First, I don't know that we know the head-coaching picture yet. There's a long process ahead, and it really doesn't begin until the regular-season ends. Also, the new head coach will have significant input into the starting quarterback. The reason I believe Bortles will be next year's starting quarterback is it's not all that likely that there will be a significantly better option. That's true no matter who is making the decision. As for who will be the coach, I'm guessing Mike Smith, Coughin or Doug Marrone. That's my guess now, but until the regular season ends, it's very much a guess. Stay tuned.
David from The Island:
Harbaugh said he's staying at Michigan. Maybe so, but I don't think for the long-term. He knows how to win and he's not a cuddler. Any chance he gets the job?
John: I don't get any sense Harbaugh is leaving Michigan this offseason.
Geoff from Orlando, FL:
Could you please explain why Tom Coughlin is getting such attention for the Jags' head-coaching position? He was slightly above .500 (68-60) when he was here and slightly above .500 (102-90) when he was on the New York Giants. I know he won two Super Bowls up there, but I feel like we need more consistency than that at head coaching. I would love to have him in the front office, but why is everyone making him out to be the Jaguars savior?
John: I don't know what everyone else is saying about Coughlin; I do know I've said I think he would be a good choice for the Jaguars' head coach. He's getting a lot of attention for the position because he made multiple playoff appearances and championship-game appearances with two different franchises, and because he won two Super Bowls with the Giants. He also has a reputation for getting a lot out of teams in various situations. Is he the only good choice? No. Is he a good choice and is he someone who is capable of providing a winning structure and direction? Yes.
Shawn from the Mean Streets of Arlington:
Bold prediction: The Jaguars start the new season undefeated.
John: Good call.
Arthur from Drexel Hill:
Can T.J. Yeldon be considered a bust?
John: Any player can be considered anything anyone wants. Yeldon hasn't been a dominant runner, but I don't know that any runner would be dominant in the Jaguars' offense the past two seasons. The unit has improved as a pass-blocking unit, but still isn't a great run-blocking line. Most backs can't outperform their offensive line when it comes to run blocking. Yeldon in that sense is like most backs.
Keith from Jacksonville:
Happy New Year O-Man. It seems most of the Jag blogs agree with you about the first- and fourth-round trade for Garappolo ONLY if Josh McDaniels comes to us as well. It makes sense in that case as Dave Caldwell until this year has, at best, a spotty first-round draft record, which cannot be denied unless and until BB5 and Fowler pick up their games. With McDaniel, you would have a quarterback who did well in a system with one of the best teams in the league coming into his prime. However, any other offensive coordinator would be reason to stay away from that trade. What say you?
John: I say whatever the Jags' blogs say I agree with – 110 percent! Those guys are awesome and I respect them a great deal. A fine and noble bunch, they are. In fact, I respect and admire them so much that I would list them by name if I only I could remember them.