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O-Zone: Differing opinions

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Brian from Jacksonville

Hey, O. Been a while. Lawrence does have the right stuff. The season is over and Lawrence still walks without a limp. Seriously, he played all 17 games, through the rookie "wall" and was not afraid. He kept his head up and his eyes downfield even as he was being pummeled. He kept getting up. I think Lawrence and bodyguard – offensive tackle Walker Little — will begin a long and fruitful run together in 2022. Just a dream?

Many details of the angst over Jaguars rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence were much ado about very little. The concern over him getting hurt behind the Jaguars' offensive line was overplayed; the line for the most part protected OK-to-good considering how often the Jaguars trailed – and by how much. The concern over him not yet playing to a franchise level was overplayed; the circumstances around this team were such that few rookie quarterbacks – few quarterbacks, period – could have excelled. The most unfounded concern was that somehow Lawrence's struggles in 2021 would ruin him. The only way that would happen is if Lawrence from the start didn't have a strong mental makeup. If he showed anything throughout the 2021 season, it was that he is mentally strong – remarkably so. Lawrence is still as on course to be a franchise quarterback as he ever was. That doesn't guarantee he will get there. But he absolutely still is on course.

Zach from Jacksonville

From an outside view, it is obvious the team has back-end organizational structure issues. Would the team ever consider hiring change management consultants (Deloitte, BCG) to help with a turnaround? I've worked with these firms and have seen the great impact they can bring.

The Jaguars' organizational structure will be fine. The football decision-making structure over the last decade or so has been (at various times): general manager with final say working with head coach; executive vice president with final say over head coach and general manager; general manager and head coach with equal say reporting to ownership; and head coach with final say working with general manager. All are perfectly legitimate NFL structures. The key is finding the right people for the roles.

Z from Charleston, SC

I watched Sunday's game after knowing the outcome - less passionately but arguably more objectively. I had a few thoughts.

Suuuuuuuuure you did.

Chris from Mandarin

It seems pretty much inevitable that Bill O'Brien will be the next head coach along with Trent Baalke as the general manager. With reports from people all over the league saying they don't want to touch the job because of Baalke, is this really just the best we can do? It's pretty likely that Baalke and O'Brien will butt heads, considering that O'Brien wanted to be the general manager of the Texans while he was the coach, it seems pretty unlikely that he will want to be hands off with personnel. Similarly, Baalke has been accused of sticking his nose where it doesn't belong in terms of giving advice on game planning and stuff like that. I imagine we're going to be right back in this situation in another two years if this is truly the course we are going to take.

Your email assumes many things and jumps to many conclusions based on those assumptions. As of this writing, I get no sense that anyone outside of Jaguars Owner Shad Khan can accurately say that anything is "pretty much inevitable" regarding the Jaguars' head-coaching search. And as of this writing, I don't know that Khan yet knows the direction. It's therefore way premature to speculate on how any tenure might play out. All evidence is that Khan is doing his best to conduct a thorough search to make what he believes the best decision possible. Is it possible that that decision could be O'Brien with Baalke as general manager? Maybe. But there's nothing to suggest it's "inevitable."

Jake from Duval

Why don't punters get credited with extra yardage like field-goal kickers do? Nobody punts from the line of scrimmage.

Because those are the rules.

Daniel from Jersey City, NJ

O-man, how do you think a prospective coach would view the opportunity in Jax versus the other coaching openings in the league? Do you think all the other teams are pursuing pretty much the same top coaching candidates?

I expect most prospective head coaches see the Jaguars' head-coaching job as a very good job for the same reason it was a good job last season – the presence of a potential franchise quarterback in Lawrence, a patient owner willing to let football people make football decisions and that same owner being willing to spend and support the football operations. The negative obviously is that the Jaguars have won three games over the last two seasons and a heavy lift remains to get the roster to a competitive level around Lawrence. No, I do not think all teams are pursuing the same top coaching candidates. There will be many candidates who get multiple interviews, but there also will be surprise candidates and candidates who receive interest from only one or two teams. It's quite possible that those "surprise" candidates will be the best candidate. Groupthink is common within the league – and with those who follow and cover the league – but it doesn't necessarily produce the best candidates.

Braddock from Jax

I counted 10 dropped touchdown passes this season from this group. Beyond the obvious, that's a big number. TL doubters should keep that in perspective. Like it or not; most people today make judgment based upon fantasy stats and not actually watching. I think the people that matter see a bright future as long as he gets some help.

Good eye.

Kevin from San Antonio, TX

Hey John, any truth to the rumors that Gene Frenette could be under consideration for the head coaching job?

Longtime Florida Times-Union sports columnist and Northeast Florida cultural icon Eugene P. "Gene" Frenette is not under consideration for the Jaguars' head-coaching position. It's not necessarily that the team wasn't interested as much as Gene's lack of interest in the position. Gene is an eclectic soul with varied interests beyond tweeting about regular-season NBA, NHL and Bolles football. A wanderer like Gene can't be tied to one task. His type must soar.

Jacob from NY

Good morning! I know a lot depends on the new coach (and maybe new GM) but what is the downside of signing Cam to a long-term contract? From my (little) understanding, I see no downside. OL is always in high demand, we would have to overpay anyway, Jags have high cap space, it makes the No. 1 overall pick more flexible, it does not count against potential compensatory draft pics, and it shows other players the owner/gm rewards in house talent. Worst-case scenario he is below average, and the jags cut him in 2 years after overpaying for a free agent (which they have to overpay for free agents anyway). Thanks!

The potential downside to re-signing left tackle Cam Robinson to a long-term contract would be committing salary-cap dollars to one position when they could be used at another position. If – for example – the Jaguars' decision-makers believe rookie Walker Little to be an upgrade at left tackle over Robinson, then they could theoretically spend the salary-cap space that would have bene used on Robinson to improve another position. I don't know if that's the way the decision-makers will think. That's the potential downside of re-signing Robinson.

Sascha from Cologne, Germany

Hey John, I know Shad will take time with the head-coach decision because it is an important decision. But why wait so long? There are other teams with a vacancy that are more attractive for a very good head coach. Do you think the Jags end up with a head coach, which they originally not wanted because the free agent coaches will go tonight teams? I really hope this decision doesn't take too long and the Jags take a good head coach.

There are plenty of capable coaches. The key is finding the right one, not the one Twitter – or even the media – believe is the right one. Example: The Indianapolis Colts in 2018 hired Frank Reich as their head coach after New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels accepted the job then opted to return to the Patriots. As a result, Reich was hired in the second week of February in 2018 – well after the normal "cycle" for hiring head coaches. Reich is a perfectly capable head coach. Also: then-assistants such as Bill Cowher and Mike Tomlin were not the "hot coaches" when hired by the Steelers; both were wildly successful. Too many teams rush this because of external pressure or the need to beat another team to the punch. Take your time. Get it right.

Roger from Houston, TX

No question, just a note to say thank you for another season's worth of daily infotainment. What you do is greatly appreciated.

By some.