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O-Zone: Better or worse

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Jesse from Marlboro, NY

We as Jaguar fans have endured a comical amount of losing and ineptitude over the last 15 years. I've taken it mostly in stride, but this might be my breaking point. Why in the world would Shad retain a general manager whose only bullet point on his resume is inheriting a talented team that won for a few years in San Francisco, and who is mostly hated around the league? This is the most important coaching hire the franchise is ever going to make and you're going to severely limit the candidates who want to come here because they are going to be saddled to this guy? Please try and shed some positive light on this for me.

Many fans are upset about reports this week that Jaguars Owner Shad Khan will retain General Manager Trent Baalke – and that Baalke reportedly will be involved in the search for a new head coach. Why did Khan make this move? I wrote Tuesday morning: "It's not entirely surprising that Jaguars Owner Shad Khan would retain Baalke. He historically is patient with general managers and head coaches and believes in continuity – and Baalke had success as general manager of the San Francisco 49ers from 2011-2016, particularly in the first three seasons of that tenure." And "Head Coach Urban Meyer had say over decisions since January, which makes it difficult to know how much of last offseason was Baalke and how much was Meyer. My sense from last year's 2021 NFL Draft was that it was very Meyer influenced." While I have received a slew of emails wondering about the move, there's little more to add in terms of analysis. There's a one-year sample size here with Baalke's drafts, and it's difficult to judge a draft class so quicky. I have spoken to Baalke a few times in person regarding philosophy and approach and I like a lot of his thoughts. I don't know him well enough personally to comment accurately on "reports" on how he is viewed around the league. I do understand many fans are at breaking points. I empathize because of the record and because of the year they just endured. I do. I really do.

Jimsure from DBS

Please tell me the Jaguars are NOT going after another old retread head coach. We need a young, energetic non-status quo head coach to bring us into the new era NFL. Have a great new year.

The Jaguars' head-coaching search gained serious momentum Tuesday, with at least eight candidates reported by respected media: former Indianapolis Colts/Detroit Lions Head Coach Jim Caldwell, former Philadelphia Eagles Head Coach Doug Pederson, former New York Jets Head Coach Todd Bowles, former Atlanta Falcons Head Coach Dan Quinn, Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator Nate Hackett, Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich, Indianapolis Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus and Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore. There are no reports or sense of a favorite and the order of the list should not be interpreted as such. We'll have time in the coming days to analyze/discuss the list, and I expect we will do so as favorites emerge. Early thought on the list: It's not insignificant that Caldwell, Pederson, Bowles and Quinn have head-coaching experience at the NFL level. I would be surprised if Khan didn't like the idea of NFL experience at that level very much. It's also significant that the list is fairly equally divided between coaches with offensive background (Caldwell/Hackett/Leftwich/Pederson/Moore) and defensive (Quinn/Eberflus/Bowles). The head coach is more about leadership and direction than offensive and defensive prowess. As far as your question … a coach being a "retread" is neither good nor bad. Hire the right guy regardless or resume or reputation. Get a leader that knows the NFL and is respected by those around him. That's the best start.

Scott from Jacksonville

Baalke's "success" in San Fran included clashes with three separate head coaches and essentially running that franchise into the ground before he left. Not the kind of success we are looking for. What an awful decision.

So, one not fer Baalke …

Tom from Jacksonville

Baalke hasn't made bad picks, so I don't know where all the fuss is coming from. Quarterback Trevor Lawrence is pretty good - not great, running back Travis Etienne Jr. will probably be a stud, cornerback Tyson Campbell is looking good, offensive tackle Walker Little is playing well, safety Andre Cisco is making plays. The problem is we don't have a superstar and that's not his fault. Yet.

… and one fer Baalke …

Tom from Nocatee, FL

I have it on hood authority that Trent Baalke believes that Myles Jack WAS down.

… and one fer hood authority.

Mr. NFL from Unfortunately Jacksonville

The Jacksonville Embarrassments? Now all they need is an elder coach (Caldwell) to complete this disastrous organization. Makes sense … let's hire someone who could draw up a modern, innovative offensive play - you know, for our young, modern quarterback. In closing, I don't blame you for not wearing Jags gear on the road, that would be humiliating. Good luck with out of touch Caldwell.

I don't wear "Jags gear" to games either at home or on the road, though there would be nothing humiliating about doing so. As for hiring Caldwell as head coach, the thought here is he's exactly what this organization needs: A commanding, respected presence who can lead the organization and who understands the NFL. Here's hoping for Caldwell – or someone else with those traits. That would be a good start. In closing, a head coach isn't about "drawing up modern, innovative offensive plays" nearly as much as it's about being a leader and setting an organizational tone. I don't blame you for not knowing that. It's something you know from understanding of the NFL. Not everyone does. Chin up.

Nnnnn from Nn M'sn mnnkk

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Sal from AUSTIN

You're right John, it was an highlights reel of Lawrence's top plays. I wouldn't have known because I won't watch a clip of a player's best plays if the team … oh I don't know … lost the game. So, my question is this: who decided to repost this over there after a Jaguars loss?

The digital team made the decision. And there was nothing wrong with it. No one with the Jaguars is in denial about the team's record. But just because the team is losing doesn't mean you can't acknowledge good plays and performances when they happen.

Andrew from MATTOON, IL

My self-esteem is based on the performance of my favorite NFL team.


Ovidio from Southbridge

Enough is enough. We can start the hiring process today. Who should we bring in as coach?

I have written and said often in recent days that I like the idea of a former head coach. That's not the only path to respectability, but it would seem a good fit for this situation. I also like the idea of a coach with a calm, respected demeanor and a coach in whom players can believe and trust. I have worked with Caldwell and believe him to be that sort of coach. I don't know Pederson, but my observation from afar is that he is that sort of coach. Ditto Quinn and Bowles. That would be the start of my list.           

Dean from Rochester

A silver lining for the past two seasons: two of the strangest NFL seasons ever, with COVID-19 causing all sorts of disruptions – players unable to play, games rescheduled, etc. Probably not a bad two seasons to be terrible and get two No. 1 picks under the belt in hopes of a better and more normal year to come.

Fair point. It would still be cooler to be good.

Howard from Homestead, FL

I'm nervous about keeping Baalke, but something else makes me even more nervous. Every time we change leadership, the new leadership dumps all our highly drafted players because "He wasn't my guy." We can't keep giving away what few good prospects we have because they were drafted by the previous regime. At least Baalke will keep those players around until we know what we have. First round picks should last more than a couple of seasons, I don't care who drafted them.

I don't know that it has played out quite like that, but yes … new regimes must judge talent and decide who to retain. It's part of the process.

Bob from Sumter, SC

Okay. I've gone through the annual "I'm done with, tired of wasting my time with this team" annual phase. The Red Sox broke the curse of the Bambino. We have a talented QB and maybe will hire a HC with a Super Bowl resume. Top draft pick, new batch of free agents. Something good can happen in 2022. Jags fan for better or worse.

Bless you, Bob.