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O-Zone: Don't go back

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

James from Jacksonville

I was not particularly a fan of Byron Leftwich as a quarterback during his time with the Jaguars. I was not fond of his throwing motion or how he hung the ball. But I was a fan of his hard work ethic and drive to rally the team. If he is selected as the next head coach, do you believe that his work ethic will give him a better chance to succeed in his new role? True grit.

The Jaguars' search for a head coach continues, and answering this question first does NOT hint or say that Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich indeed will be the choice. And how he played while quarterbacking the Jaguars from 2003-2006 in no way indicates how he will fare as head coach. But as you indicate, Leftwich does have many traits that could translate to success. When you speak to former Jaguars teammates about Leftwich, they praise his work ethic, football intelligence, ability to lead, vision, dedication to craft. Those attributes – among others – indeed give him a chance to succeed as a head coach.

Justin from Jax

Hey, Zone. I saw something on Twitter that estimated upcoming free agent wide receiver market value that had Jaguars wide receiver DJ Chark Jr.'s value at $12 million a year. Do you believe that sounds too low, too high, or right around what you would expect? Would you consider that a fair offer for all parties if you were writing the checks?

We'll do a critical "deeper dive" on this moving forward, but an early look at "free-agent value" estimates on Spotrac indeed puts Chark's value around $11.9 million. The first instinct is that's a bit high considering Chark has had one 1,000-yard-plus season out of four NFL seasons – but that instinct is probably wrong. The reality is Chark also made a Pro Bowl following the 2019 season and he undoubtedly has flashed significant potential as a deep threat and – possibly – a No. 1 or "1A" type receiver. Chark therefore will have significant appeal if he becomes a free agent in mid-March. Assuming all projected free agents hit the market (which won't happen), Chark won't be as coveted as players such as Davante Adams (Green Bay), Allen Robinson (Chicago) or Chris Godwin (Tampa Bay) – and he's more likely to be in a tier with players such as Jamison Crowder (New York Jets). Still, he darned sure will be coveted – and considering Adams could set the market around (at least) $25 million, Chark at $12 million probably makes sense. Bottom line: You're going to overpay in free agency. Whoever is making decisions for the Jaguars must decide if they believe Chark is the player he showed in 2019. I like a lot about Chark – desire, work ethic, potential, speed, athleticism – and think he can exceed 2019 consistently moving forward. We'll see.

Brian from Round Rock, TX

Re-signing Chark is not tricky. Re-sign him, period. Why? Because out inability to retain talent is the reason we suck. But, but, but ... NO BUTS!

Hey, one fer Chark …

Josh from Atlanta, GA

If you HAD to pick between these two options, which would you lean towards? Draft the best offensive tackle and let Cam walk or the best wide receiver and let Chark go.

If I HAD to pick, I probably would select an offensive tackle No. 1 overall and move on from Jaguars left tackle Cam Robinson. This is not knocking Robinson, but you're forcing me to select wide receiver or left tackle at No. 1 – and in this case, there appear to be left tackles worthy of the No. 1 selection in the 2022 NFL Draft. That doesn't appear to be the case at wide receiver.

Brian from Gainesville, FL

Big O, on the issue of signing players to second contracts and Chark, I think fans don't want to hear the old line about if the contract makes sense given production and the market. After all, like so many other things, the Jaguars have gotten this wrong too. Primarily, by not resigning Allen Robinson.


Zac from Austin, Tejas

I thought Round 1 picks – and especially number one overall picks – were always supposed to be franchise-changing players.

Not all first-round selections are created equal – and the ability of a first-round selection to "change a franchise…" sometimes depends on the depth of a particular draft. Also: A late first-round selection typically is very different than a Top 10 selection. Either way, the Jaguars obviously haven't selected enough recently. That must change.

Greg from Section 122, Jacksonville, FL

There are reports that Brady could retire this season from active play. Here is a scenario if Brady was willing and if Leftwich is the Jaguars' head coach: Offer Brady a position as quarterbacks coach. It is close enough to Tampa that commuting is a nonissue. And if Brady is the mind everyone says, he would be helping Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence out a lot if just to give him ONE season of teaching what he knows. If this could happen, Jaguars Owner Shad Khan would be stupid not throw a vault full of money at the GOAT to get him here.

You're reaching a bit, though the sentiment is understandable. I don't doubt that Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady – if he indeed retires – could be a fine quarterbacks coach. I also don't doubt that Brady is comfortable enough financially – and happy enough in his family life – not to want to jump immediately from a playing career into a job so time-consuming as NFL position coach.

Jim from Callahan, FL

What the hell's going on out here!?! - V. Lombardi

I laughed at this.

Ryan from Detroit, MI

John, you recently said that the general manager's importance stems from the role in scouting and identifying talent - which has inarguably been a consistent struggle for this franchise, especially when looking at the high-value early round picks. But how much of that is the general manager and how much falls on the rest of the scouting staff? I've heard that often the organizational scouting staff largely remains intact even when a general manager changes. Should we just completely clean house and start from scratch in that department? We've had far too many misses while drafting what should be "can't miss" players in the Top 10.

The final decision-maker – be it head coach, general manager or executive vice president – ultimately is responsible for selecting talent, particularly high-value early-round selections. The scouting staff determines value and grades, then it's up to the general manager. As for the Jaguars starting from scratch in that department, every decision-making level personnel official is new to the organization in the last two or three years. That's about as new as it gets.

Ovidio from Southbridge

Byron will change the culture, help Trevor develop, and be a leader of men. How much do you think playing quarterback can translate into being a head coach?

This presumes Leftwich will be the Jaguars' head coach. I don't know that to be true, but for the sake of discussion … having played quarterback can greatly help any coach. It's the game's most important position, and everything starts there. Having seen the game from that perspective, having worked to learn the game – the dynamics of preparation, play-calling, leadership, responsibility, pressure – as a quarterback … all of it can't help but prepare a head coach. It's far from the only avenue to the position, but it's a good one.


Those who are having heartburn about hiring Byron should be made aware that Buccaneers Head Coach Bruce Arians has been saying that Byron will be a great head coach dating back to their days in Arizona. I would put trust in Arians' opinion, wouldn't you?


Tim from Fort Wayne, IN

I don't hate the current OT rules, but let's add a little more strategy to it. What if the team that wins the opening coin toss can choose to either receive first in the game and first in overtime or defer to the second half? It requires almost no changes, but it allows teams to know going into overtime who starts with the ball. Then, if you don't think your defense can stop the other team from scoring a touchdown on their first possession, you can just play to win it at the end of regulation. Would it work?

This would be an intriguing wrinkle, and it at times would affect game-ending strategy. I doubt we'll see this, because the league for so long has decided overtime possession on a coin flip following regulation. I also expect discussion on this topic to focus on changing the overtime format to ease the pitchforks and mob mentality protesting the current system. This doesn't really address that, so it probably won't come into play.

Tom from Nocatee

Looking at your watch a third time, waiting for the Jags to hire a coach.

I know it might sound strange, but I hope we have some news before too long.