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O-Zone: Get good enough to win

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Ruben from Oxnard, CA:
Should attention be paid to a candidate's ability to move on to a higher position quickly (Adam Gase, Doug Marrone) versus someone who will need to use this position as a platform to earn consideration for head coaching gigs (Greg Olson, Nathaniel Hackett, Kirby Wilson)? Gase and Marrone are likely to get top gigs faster with a job well done, leaving us to do this all over again next year.
John: We're getting a bit ahead of ourselves here. It is relatively rare to have a coordinator who doesn't aspire on some level to be a head coach. For most it's the next logical career step, and if the right opportunity arises most coaches don't turn down a head coaching position. Tom Moore was Peyton Manning's offensive coordinator in Indianapolis from 1998-2009. That was undoubtedly advantageous, but that's an extraordinarily long stretch. You can't hire a coordinator worried that he'll succeed too much and get a head coaching position. You hire one hoping he'll be successful enough to get an opportunity to leave and force you to go through the process again. Good coordinators can be replaced with other good coordinators and often are because good coordinators are often coaching good players. That's the nature of the NFL.
Michael from Middleburg, FL:
On Jags of the Round Table you said there would be no third year coaching in Mobile. Why?
John: The Senior Bowl is typically coached by the two returning staffs with the NFL's worst records. I don't think the Jaguars will have one of the worst records in the NFL next season.
Frank from Knoxville, TN:
Quick question about Senior Bowl coverage: Will you guys be doing any quick video sessions with players on the South squad that the Jags will be coaching? Maybe some quick vignettes on guys at positions the Jags might be looking to draft in April? Looking forward to whatever you guys do, either way.
John: Hmmm … go to the Senior Bowl, with college players there … talk about players the Jaguars might draft … Shad Khan, hire this man!!!!
Wallace from Jacksonville:
I love the Jets! Hiring Gene Smith. YESS! That will ensure that the Jets will have a steady stream of draft pick busts as long as he's around. Did they even look at how the players HE PICKED in Jacksonville turned out? All I can say is WOW!!
John: The NFL is full of people who have been fired from one job and done fine in a different role somewhere else. There's every chance that will be the case here.
Jason from Falling Waters, FL:
David Caldwell can really improve this team in the offseason. I can only hope that the O-Line is priority No. 1. Seventy-one overall sacks is just embarrassing.
John: You can't win allowing that many sacks, and Caldwell has stated clearly that offensive line will be addressed. I'd expect right tackle to be a focus, and I'd also expect at least one player – probably a veteran, but we'll see – brought in to compete on the interior.
Shon from San Antonio, TX:
Its official: the Jaguars' new offensive coordinator is … not going to be hired until after the Senior Bowl. Gus and Dave are in no hurry and they shouldn't be. It has to be a little difficult to try and sell this job and add the stipulation that we'd prefer you work with the staff we have versus bringing in your own guys. Could that also be a factor in the hiring delay?
John: Your email is incorrect on many counts. It's not official that the Jaguars won't hire an offensive coordinator until after the Senior Bowl. It's in fact very probable that they will hire one next week in Mobile, Alabama, before the Senior Bowl. And while it's true they are in no hurry, this is not a hiring delay. Bradley on the day he dismissed Jedd Fisch said there was no timetable for hiring a replacement and in fact left open the possibility of it happening Senior Bowl week. Finally, Bradley also said while he would argue for coaches on staff that wouldn't override hiring the best candidate for the job. So, really, all that's going on here is a coach looking for the best candidate. That means waiting for candidates from other teams to come available, too, which is the process you're seeing late this week with Greg Olson and Nathaniel Hackett interviewing.
Marcus from Jacksonville:
I heard a respected analyst say he believes Jameis Winston is the third-best quarterback prospect in the past 20 years, behind only Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck. Of course, his opinion is based solely on his on-field performance, not any of his off-field shenanigans. I think he's a good player, but I don't see him as a can't-miss, future hall of fame kind of player. What do you think?
John: I think Manning and Luck are so clearly the best prospects of the last 20 years that it's easy to forget there were a bunch of others who were very good, too. Some made it, some didn't. Is Winston up there with any not named Luck/Manning? Yeah, maybe, though Ben Roethlisberger was a really good prospect coming out. Then again, so was Ryan Leaf.
Duke from Jacksonville:
You said that you can be a good evaluator of talent and struggle as a general manager. Can you explain? Isn't the general manager's primary job to evaluate talent? If Gene Smith was a good talent evaluator, why did he select so many picks that didn't work out?
John: All general managers select picks that don't work out. A general manager has to decide who to pick where and how that talent is going to fit together. He also has to hit on the quarterback. Smith missed on the quarterback. Had Blaine Gabbert been better, how much better would a lot of his selections looked? Who knows? Smith, remember, also had a lot to do with a lot of good players being here for a lot of years before he became general manager. Look, I can't write that Smith was a good general manager. The record proves otherwise. But plenty of teams wanted him before he became general manager and it's not surprising that he will be hired again.
Will from Jacksonville:
I have this feeling that if the Jaguars were exclusively interviewing quarterback coaches or coaches with extensive passing game experience, you would be telling how smart it is because this team's future clearly rests with our quarterback. Can you honestly say that I'm wrong?
John: Well-played, but I honestly do like the idea of an older, experienced run-oriented guy as the coordinator with a quarterbacks coach working with the quarterback. It may well not play out that way; there is no tried-true way to win in the NFL. Nathaniel Hackett – who reportedly interviewed Friday – certainly doesn't fit the "older, experienced" model – and he comes with a very good reputation. There are a lot of ways to shape a staff; I've said one model I liked, but there's no one tried and true way. The Jaguars need someone to work with Blake Bortles and help him maintain solid fundamentals through the course of the season. Whether that's in the coordinator role or quarterback role really makes little difference.
Tino from San Jose, CA:
David Caldwell was asked who he might pick with the Jags' top pick on the Gus Bradley Show. He replied by saying he may use the pick to help Blake Bortles. I'd doubt he's thinking of drafting offensive line with that pick. Do you think he's seriously considering drafting a wide receiver like Amari Cooper?
John: There are positions I would rule out with the No. 3 selection. Offensive tackle is one. Quarterback is another. Wide receiver is not yet one of those positions.
Jack from Jacksonville:
The tight end struggle was so bad this year. Marcedes Lewis and Clay Harbor were both injured several times. Why did the team cut Danny Noble? Noble caught a few touchdown passes in 2013 and was a good tight end in my opinion. O-Man, why did the Jags trust Nic Jacobs and Marcel Jensen – undrafted rookies – to take over? It doesn't make sense to me.
John: The Jaguars' tight ends weren't as productive as they needed to be this past season, and although Harbor and Lewis each really sustained only one significant injury, they did miss a combined 11 games. As for why the Jaguars had Jacobs and Jensen on the roster rather than Noble … they thought those two were better players.
Jerell from Columbia, SC:
Hey, the Jags sealed their fate for the next 15 years by not tanking against colts in 2011.
John: Hey, no they didn't. You know what the Jaguars did that day? They won a game. You know what they have to now? Get good enough to win the division and beat the Colts. Why worry about who's on the other team? Why not worry about getting good enough to win?

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