JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Nick from Annapolis, MD
Is a head coach's relationship with players or other coaches more important? Stated differently, does the ability of a head coach to manage and lead his coaching staff deserve more importance when discussing head coach candidates? Seems like something very hard for outsiders to assess, but critical for long-term success.
I consider ability to manage and communicate with people the most important trait for an NFL head coach – far more important than Xs and Os, play-calling ability, motivational sayings, how he looks in a suit, reputation, etc. I suppose I would put the head coach's relationship with players slightly above that of relationship with assistant coaches in terms of importance, but not by much. It's all about the ability to relate to – and manage – people. All people. Assistant coaches. Players. Support staff. Media. Etc., etc. You're right that this doesn't get as much attention when people discuss head coaches as most of the other things. And that is because it's more difficult to discuss and analyze. But it's key. This doesn't mean every NFL head coach has to approach relating to and managing people the same way. But if you can't do it effectively, you're going to have a hard time succeeding as an NFL head coach.
Stephen from Jacksonville via Pennsauken NJ
John, If (and when) Covid goes away do you think the media will be allowed back in the locker room? As a fan, I want the media in there to get more direct quotes and – more importantly – the off-the-record comments. I would guess the players and teams want you guys out so that they have more control over the "story." How do you see this going?
This is very much to be determined – and there's little question the coverage of all types of media has suffered from a lack of locker-room access since the start of COVID-19. While media still talk to players via zoom and in group/podium settings, opportunities for one-on-one discussion are far fewer without so-called "open locker room" periods. This hurts the media covering the team because it's trickier to get honest assessments in the less-intimate podium access. It's also rarer for media to be able to turn off the cameras and recorders, and have "real" conversations with players. Such conversations sometimes produce "scoops" and "exclusives." More often, they're simply a chance to speak more candidly and openly than happens in group settings – which can benefit both players and media. Either way, the coverage is more sterile and far less intimate. I suppose it's not the end of the world for fans, but it does erode at the quality of coverage. Do I think locker-room access will return? I'm skeptical. Hopeful? Yes, but definitely skeptical.
Chris from Mandarin
Keep telling yourself that John, but the check's already in the mail. Bill O'Brien will be the next head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars, and that is a very bad thing.
It's a beautiful thing when the ill-informed among us speak with the confidence of the well-informed. It's not as always accurate, but it's beautiful.
Scott from Wichita, KS
Culture, culture, culture. The most overused word in the NFL – and really, everywhere. Pete Prisco says the culture needs to change, but isn't that what former Jaguar Head Coach Urban Meyer did? What former Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone did? What former Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley did? Culture does not change every few years – and if it does, then it's really not culture, is it? I don't know … I'm asking.
Culture almost always changes with a new head coach in the NFL. For better or worse. The change of culture isn't always positive. And a change of culture can be fleeting. Here's the thing to remember about culture and "buy in." They're not "easy" to create, but most head coaches can create them. Maintaining them is difficult and almost aways involves winning. Consistently.
Donny from Heathrow, FL, Section 38, Day 2
Wow ... the quest to criticize Jaguars Owner Shad Khan just doesn't stop. Besides your spot-on point that Mr. Khan is doing his due diligence (as he should), the Jags are still ahead of any team with a HC vacancy. They've already interviewed three candidates with three more interviews scheduled this week, they've satisfied the Rooney Rule by interviewing minority candidates, and Mr. Khan could make a decision any time. The Las Vegas Raiders had their vacancy before the Jags but haven't publicly announced interviewing anyone yet. The Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings, Chicago Bears, Denver Broncos and New York Giants just fired their head coaches this week and are just starting their searches. The Jags are still in the driver's seat in hiring their pick of coaches if it's the right fit ... there's nothing not smart about what Mr. Khan is doing!
There's no need to rush. The Jaguars are a good position for a head coach. It's a good job. There's a potential franchise quarterback, the No. 1 overall selection in the 2022 NFL Draft and a patient owner willing to spend. Don't worry about being first to hire a head coach. Don't worry about getting a "name" or "hot" candidate. Worry about getting it all right.
Ryan from Duval
"If you're going to build the roster right, you're going to need to build through the draft – and you also must provide the accompanying time to develop to build that way." I usually would agree with this statement, but this is the Jaguars we're talking about. We both know drafting and developing isn't their strong suit. I'd rather see Shad overpay for proven players in free agency.
Just because the Jaguars haven't drafted and developed well enough doesn't mean that's not the right way to build a roster. And it in no way means they won't do it well moving forward. And if the Jaguars take the approach of, "Well, we've never done it well so we're going to try" then there's no chance the franchise ever will improve. As far as simply overpaying in free agency to solve all that ails the Jaguars, the same free agency caveat that always has applied still applies: You can overpay all you want – and you certainly will – but the players available via free agent are usually flawed and sometimes seriously so. This is because teams value their own players and don't want to let them go if they consider them elite. It's just not the way to build.
McRib from Corrales, NM
Any truth to the rumor that the Culligan Girl is being interviewed for the head coaching job?
I have no idea what you're talking about.
JT from Palm Coast, FL
I traditionally believe that you should draft a top end lineman (offense or defense) over WR, but the Cincinnati Bengals have me thinking a little differently now. Chase (Bengals) looks like the absolute best option over Sewell (Lions). We need weapons.
You make a good point, and there's little doubt that the Bengals' success this season after selecting wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase No. 5 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft will to some extent change thinking leaguewide. Whereas it was once commonly accepted that a great offensive lineman trumped a great wide receiver in the draft, the dynamics of the modern NFL are at the very least causing people within the league to reconsider that. The issue in the 2022 NFL Draft may be whether there is a receiver worthy of selecting that high. If a receiver comparable to Chase were available, the Jaguars might go that direction. Early indications are that there is not. Stay tuned, I suppose.
Torin from Atlanta, GA
Ozone, is linebacker too high to pick at No. 1 overall? Alabama linebacker Will Anderson is a stud and was arguably the best defensive player in the country this season. I just worry if we need more help up front and his skillset duplicates Josh Allen.
No. 1 usually is too early to select a linebacker. I expect the Jaguars to select an offensive or defensive lineman No. 1 overall in the 2022 NFL Draft because it's not considered an overly strong draft at quarterback – and that last factor will make it difficult to trade the No. 1 selection. But hey … considering the draft isn't considered great at the top, this could be a year an "odd" position goes No. 1. (Editor's note: Alabama linebacker Will Anderson Jr. just finished his true sophomore season and is not eligible for the 2022 NFL Draft.)
David from Ada, OK
I like how people accuse you of being a shill for the company because you aren't a shill of the fans. Then people throw around words like no integrity when they judge people for not agreeing with their opinion. We live in a myopic dysfunctional world. It's impossible to converse with people who already know everything.
The world is a crazy place. It is inhabited in part by nutty, sometimes-irrational, always-passionate people called fans. Those fans sometimes write this forum. Sometimes they say nice things. Sometimes they don't. But thank God for them. They're rarely boring.