O-Zone: All aboard

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Seamus from Columbus, MO:
Come on, dude! How do you ignore a question about everyone seeming to ignore Blake Bortles' remark that he was specifically instructed NOT to go work in California last offseason, directly impacting his mechanics?! Come on, dude!
John: Dude! First off, there has been a lot going on around the Jaguars so far this offseason other than Bortles! You know … like Tom Coughlin coming back to Jacksonville and that whole other story that broke last week about the Jaguars having a new head coach?! Also, dude: I get a lot of questions on a lot of topics, so just because I don't answer your question doesn't mean I'm "ignoring" it. Also, dude: I wrote about this in the O-Zone a couple of weeks back – soon after Bortles first talked about then-offensive coordinator Greg Olson not being crazy about him going to California to work with personal coaches last offseason. I said at the time that Olson preferred Bortles stay in Jacksonville to work with his receivers as opposed to going to California! And Dude: I think I also wrote at the time that while it seemed like a mistake in retrospect, there hadn't been much evidence during organized team activities or even early in training camp/preseason that this had been a mistake! Dude, that's because Bortles actually looked pretty good mechanically during that time and things didn't seem out of whack until later in the preseason and regular season! Dude, I think everyone – Bortles included – now has a better understanding that he probably needs to work extensively with his quarterbacks coaches in California in the offseason! But, dude – no one's ignoring it! It's a topic! It's being discussed. Dude!
Brian from Dunwoody, GA:
I've warmed some since my initial reaction to Doug Marrone being head coach, but I just can't buy into the "winning" propaganda just yet. This team has tricked me too many times, and I'll believe it when I start seeing results. This will be my first hype-less offseason.
John: Cool.
Brett from Seattle, WA:
I know it's an impossible question to answer, but does Tom Brady make Bill Belichick better or vice versa in your humblest of opinions? After watching Saturday's playoff game it made me wonder! Who made who?!
John: Brady and Belichick complement one another and, as with most things in football, their impact is intertwined. Belichick is perhaps the premier head coach of this era, and he has done a remarkable job of building a team where all players clearly understand what's expected of them, and where all players clearly believe in the direction of the organization. Brady is one of the best two or three quarterbacks of this era, and the two now have the advantage of having worked together for more than a decade and a half. That means Brady has such a comfort level with the Patriots' offense that a lot of what he does is second-nature and instinct. The Patriots are in the AFC Championship Game for a record sixth consecutive season. It's doubtful that would be the case without either Belichick or Brady.
Greg from Boise, ID:
I love Tom Coughlin, but we all know he's a control freak. I am wondering how Marrone, General Manager David Caldwell, and Coughlin can work together knowing Coughlin is a micromanager. As a former head coach, Tom should know the importance of the head coach picking his own staff, but it's being reported that Coughlin has his fingers in that too, meaning Marrone doesn't have final say in his coaching staff. The old adage "too many cooks spoil the soup" comes to mind. I love the idea behind the hire, I just can't help but think bigger isn't always better – and more is sometimes too much. It's easy to say we are going to work as a team, but hard to do so when one is a known micromanager. Thoughts?
John: This is obviously a concern because that indeed is Coughlin's personality: aggressive, confident, knowledgeable … a dominant presence in any situation. At the same time, Coughlin has coached in the NFL for much of the last two decades. He understands the dynamic necessary for a head coach to do his job – and he understands that a head coach must be allowed to be the head coach. Here's guessing he'll let Marrone be just that. But let's not paint Coughlin's "fingers" being involved in the staff search as something that has to be a bad thing. The Jaguars have hired Perry Fewell as secondary coach, Pat Flaherty as offensive line coach and Joe DeCamillis as special teams coach. That's a lot of experience and four Super Bowl championships … so to the degree that coaching is important in the NFL, these by any measure are good hires.
HireChip from Jacksonville:
Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk wonders if Chip Kelly could garner some consideration from the Jaguars as their offensive coordinator following the news that they interviewed him for their head-coaching job.
John: OK.
Mike from Yulee and Section 204:
O, so I am excited about the new hires in all the various positions. But it has a lot to do with who you put on the field. I believe the team has ton of talent without a doubt. So what position do we go for in free agency/draft? Obviously there are some areas that can improve, but if properly coached this team as it is should have a winning season next season. So, where should the focus be?
John: The details of this will get clearer in the coming weeks as we know more about schemes and offensive and defensive approaches. I also figure Coughlin and Marrone will keep a lot of their thoughts in this area to themselves. I'd be surprised if the Jaguars don't address offensive line – and veteran pass-rusher should be appealing no matter the defensive scheme. As for running back? Well, Coughlin does like an explosive, powerful game-breaking back. Who doesn't?
Keith from Stuarts Draft, VA:
Listening to Coughlin and Marrone's press conference reminded me of Ric Flair announcing, "Now we go to school!" when he was preparing to put the figure-four leg lock on his opponent. Jags players, opponents and fans you have been put on notice. I'm ready, are you?
John: Sure.
Marc from Oceanway:
Has there been an NFL quarterback that struggled during his first several years, had their original team give up on them, and then went on to be successful somewhere else? I know Bortles has struggled, but he has also shown flashes of potential. My biggest fear is that we give up on him too soon.
John: Jim Plunkett won two Super Bowls with the Raiders in the early 1980s after first his original team – the New England Patriots—and later the San Francisco 49ers gave up on him. That was a long time ago, and it hasn't happened in some time. The reality is highly-drafted quarterbacks in this era typically get one opportunity to be a franchise's quarterback. Once that opportunity passes, it's usually gone and there aren't many second chances.
Stephen from Glorieta:
I am truly optimistic, O-Man. I think hiring people with experience is great, especially when it's experience in WINNING. I really like these guys who have been there to the big show and know what it takes to get there and how good it feels. Who else is able to really communicate that to a team? I think the players will respond to that as well, don't you think? I also hope the discipline of the new team is well received. It's time to get serious and put on a winning attitude 24/7. I won't ask you for a prediction, but would enjoy hearing your take on how much this will change the climate of the team.
John: The Jaguars are putting together an experienced, capable coaching staff. Considering the comparative youth of the roster, that feels like a good thing to me. I think this team will respond to discipline because there was a feeling in the locker room and around the team at the end of last season that a change was needed. I've been getting a lot of questions about how players might respond to the change, about whether they'll accept discipline, about whether they'll respond to a harder-edge culture. It's my experience that most players respond and adapt to their circumstances. That's particularly true when the changes come in the wake of a lot of losing. Players will be motivated. They'll want to be a part of this moving forward. They'll do what they're asked to do in the manner they're asked to do it. If they don't do these things, a lot of them won't be here, but the great majority of them will do it. It's a new day. There will be emphasis in new areas. If that new emphasis results in winning, the Jaguars will gain momentum and there will be good times ahead. If not … well, it's January 16. Let's not think about that yet.

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