JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Dave from Dferris:
I'm pretty bummed, John. I was really hoping that Shad and the front office finally "got it" with this past nightmare of a season. However, we are going to roll into the 2017 season with the same quarterback, offensive coordinator and defensive coordinator that brought us one win in the last half of 2016. Really?!? Continuity with losing is NOT a good thing! It looks just like an extension of the last four years!!! Whatever - I guess us dumb fans should just shut up and leave it to the "football guys" who know so much more than us. Right.
John: I don't consider fans dumb, and I don't think they should shut up. What I do think is that we need to wait a few days to get a clearer idea of what Tuesday's reported changes will mean. It has been reported that Nathaniel Hackett will return as offensive coordinator and that Todd Wash return as defensive coordinator. What isn't yet known is how much Hackett and Wash will change their respective schemes. Hackett took over as offensive coordinator with nine games remaining this past season and never had time to overhaul former coordinator Greg Olson's system, so I expect there to be at least some noticeable change there. Wash ran Head Coach Gus Bradley's Seattle-based single-high, hybrid-Leo-Otto-based scheme this past season and believed in a lot of what that defense did. How much will Wash change the scheme? That's a key storyline. Also key is the team's stance on quarterback Blake Bortles. Will competition be brought in? How serious will that competition be? We're a few days into this thing, and there are a lot of unknowns. Until more is known we won't know the extent of the continuity you seem to dislike so much.
Don from Ponte Vedra, FL:
You're talking about a coach who beat Bill Belichick twice in the Super Bowl and ended one perfect season with less talent. He is a legend and it would be a wise thing to listen to him because he knows what he is talking about. How is that a bad move? Doug Marrone will be the next great coach in the league if Tom gets his way. You make it work! That's the secret. Go Jags!
Mike from Atlanta, GA:
Will the defense continue playing with a single-high safety, or two deep safeties? Do you have a sniff of this yet, or should I check back in a couple weeks?
John: This is one of the key issues to be addressed in the coming days and weeks, and I imagine it will be asked of Head Coach Doug Marrone at the introductory press conference Thursday morning. I expect there will be changes to the defense even with Wash returning as coordinator. I expect we will stop hearing about Otto and Lotto linebackers, and I'd be a little surprised if we hear too much more talk about Leo pass rushers. I don't have as much of a feel for how Wash will ask the secondary to play. How much will change about the defense remains to be seen. Wash has spent a lot of time working with the defense, but he also has worked in different schemes … so yeah, I expect change. The question is how much.
TJ from Orlando, FL:
Oh, snap: Papa Tom's home and he has more power than last time. I hope everyone is ready for this. Better be doing their homework this offseason. I, for one, love it.
John: I'm all for "Papa Tom" being home, though I'll probably drop the "Papa" when I see him and just address him in normal fashion (I'd advise all others to do the same, incidentally). And it indeed will be intriguing to follow Tom Coughlin's progress as he again puts his stamp on the Jaguars' organization. But let's not rewrite history: however much power Coughlin has within the Jaguars' organization as this moves forward he will not have more power than he did in his last tenure with the Jaguars – that is, unless he owns the team.
Paul Paul from Duval:
What have the Jaguars done in the past decade that would warrant any sense of optimism? I don't think success is inevitable. I don't "know" football. Shad Khan is an amazing businessman who has done plenty for Jacksonville and built great infrastructure around the team, but when I saw what happened Monday all I felt was hollow. What needs to happen to turn this feeling around? Winning? Yes, but if it goes like it always does ... ah crap … I'm writing O-Zone again. Shoot me.
John: You're not alone in your feelings, and those feelings are understandable. The Jaguars have lost so much and so consistently in recent seasons that many fans wanted complete change this offseason. Many of those fans now feel hollow in the wake of Monday's moves and they seem to be waiting to see how the team will perform before getting excited. That all makes sense. The Jaguars for the last decade have earned those feelings of ambivalence, and they really have earned it over the last half-decade. So much has gone wrong and hope has proven so false so often that it would be really, really weird if many people didn't have doubts about the team's moves. The only thing that will earn people's faith will be winning. That's what it will take. And you know what? That's OK. That's what it's supposed to take.
Steve from Jacksonville:
Would it be fair to assume that the "Super Bowl-winning coach who suggested hiring Marrone" was in fact, Coughlin? If so, I consider that all the praise and recommendation I need at the moment to feel at least pretty good about the choice.
John: You're referring to a media report late last week that a Super Bowl-winning coach suggested to the Jaguars they hire Marrone as head coach. I rarely assume anything because I don't want to … well, you know the rest. But I had to guess … well, yeah.
Miguel from Section 144 and Duuuvallll!!!:
I'm glad the Shad Khan had the courage to make his own decision on the next coach (it is his team, after all!). It's not the sexy or splashy pick, but I believe Coach Marrone – from what he has shown us since becoming the interim coach – has the fortitude and ability to command the position. I think the fact that multiple teams were wanting interviews shows us his value around the league. Familiarity and proximity can taint fans appreciation of in-house coaches abilities i.e. all former Jaguars coaches having success in the league right now. One 'fer Khaaaaaaan! #DTWD
John: Interim head coaches in the NFL are rarely the popular choice. That's because interim head coaches are usually promoted from a staff that has played poorly enough that the former head coach is no longer there. But that doesn't make interim head coaches poor choices. It's equally true that "sexy," "splashy" hires have a guarantee of being good hires than unpopular ones. Marrone's resume and history suggests he is very capable of the job at hand. How the team will fare is anyone's guess and depends on the Jaguars' improving in a lot of areas next season. Those areas include pass rush, quarterback play, turnovers and running game. What will the Jaguars do to improve the areas? How much will the areas improve? Those are some of the primary storylines of the offseason and next season. We'll see.
Brian from Gainesville, FL:
Big O, you recently answered the following: "I expect Bortles to have to compete to be the Jaguars' starting quarterback next season and ultimately I expect him to be the starting quarterback next season." Is this because the competition won't be serious given how Caldwell liked Marrone's "belief" in Bortles?
John: I believe Bortles will be the starting quarterback because I believe the Jaguars will have a difficult time signing a player who is clearly better than him. You're probably talking about quarterbacks along the lines of A.J. McCarron and/or Tyrod Taylor. Or Jay Cutler. Or Brian Hoyer or Ryan Fitzpatrick. If the competition doesn't come from that group, it probably would be from a player around the level of those players. Those players aren't elite, but they likely would come at a very high price. Will that be a price worth paying? My gut right now is that the leadership of the Jaguars' organization believes Bortles is capable of developing into a winning quarterback – and that obviously also will play a role in the direction moving forward. We'll find out more on this Thursday. Stay tuned.
Austin from Green Bay, WI:
John, so the Jaguars fire Gus Bradley two weeks before the end of the season because they say they want to start the coaching search early. They then end up hiring a guy in-house and don't wait until Josh McDaniels and some of the coaches whose seasons aren't over are available to interview. It sounds like to me that Caldwell knew not many people were too interested in the Jaguars job. …
John: Many people are drawing that conclusion. It's not a correct conclusion, but it's one that's often drawn when a team hires a coach who wasn't considered The Hot Candidate of the Offseason. If Marrone wins, it will be a good hire. If not, it won't. That's how the NFL works.
O-Zone: Clear conclusion
JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Dave from Dferris: