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O-Zone: Gotta have it

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Zach from Pomona Park

What does the color of the coach's skin have to do with anything? Wouldn't it be weird if you were hired because of the color of your skin? And not your overall experience? I saw the headline for New York Jets Head Coach Robert Saleh and him being the first Muslim coach, but who is keeping track of religion or skin color? Almost seems like we are going backwards in time ...

Your email ideally would be very valid, because ideally a head coach's race would be a non-story. But it is very much a story because the reality is most NFL head coaches are white – and there are comparatively few minorities represented. The reality also remains that NFL owners have the right to hire who they desire, and that absolutely should be the case; it wouldn't be right for the league to mandate to an individual owner who should be the head coach. The head coach sets the direction for the organization, and an owner must be able to decide that direction. Either way, that doesn't mean the lack of minority head coaches in the NFL isn't an issue. It is, and it's a serious one.

Maryanne from Jacksonville

Just wanted to pass along an opinion. l read that A.J. Bouye might be available to bring back to the Jags. I say bring him back.

I didn't follow former Jaguars cornerback A.J. Bouye enough this past season to know how he played for the Denver Broncos. But the consensus around the Jaguars was he wasn't playing at the same level in 2019 – the season before the Jaguars traded him – as he played in 2017 and 2018. If that continued to be the case, you must decide Bouye's role and salary before bringing him back. If there's a role for Bouye, it would be a great signing. He's a good guy and good teammate.

Micah from Chicago, IL

Poor Aaron Rodgers. If not for 2010/11, he may be the modern-day Dan Marino. Do you think he wishes Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy or Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich were coaching his team?

Poor Aaron Rodgers? The guy is a Hall-of-Fame, generational quarterback who won a Super Bowl following the 2010 season. He is a multi-time NFL Most Valuable Player who will be remembered as an all-time great. Not all generational quarterbacks win multiple Super Bowls. Not all of them win even one Super Bowl. If Rodgers retires tomorrow, he will have accomplished more than the vast majority of NFL quarterbacks and players. I have no idea who Rodgers wishes coaches the Green Bay Packers, but they have a 26-6 regular-season record in Head Coach Matt LaFleur's tenure and Rodgers likely will be the NFL MVP this season. They have won the NFC North both seasons and made the NFC Championship Game in both seasons. I don't know that Bieniemy or Leftwich would guarantee things going better for Rodgers than that.

Thomas from Blacksburg, VA

Why all of this talk that Lot J is dead? Jaguars Owner Shad Khan has a net worth of $8 billion. If the reward for the investment was so great, he should just invest his own money into the project.

He plans to invest some of his own money – and he already has invested a lot of his own money into TIAA Bank Field – something he is under no obligation to do. It just wasn't realistic to expect him to pay for the entire Lot J project or any revitalization project – or for such a project to not include help from the city. There is risk to the project because of market size. If the city of Jacksonville wants to grow downtown, it's going to have to help. It's probably not all going to come from outside investors. It sure hasn't yet.

Tony from Perryville, Arkansas

Hey, John. While I'm hoping former Jaguars offensive tackle Tony Boselli gets in the Hall of Fame finally (I mean come on, it's past time), I for one, hope wide receiver Torry gets in, too. I'll never forget his first interview, I think it was, as a Jag and being asked about his horrible-looking crooked finger he received from catching a ball or something like that and how he kept playing through it. And well it stayed that way. Tough dude. Great receiver. Class act.


Nicholas from Fort Hood, Texas

KOAF: With talk of the NFL Scouting Combine being "different" due to COVID-19, I was thinking of the primary purpose of the combine, which was to get players and team doctors in a consolidated environment to conduct physicals. How will teams navigate that part of the process this year? The other part of the combine as I understand was more for "theatrics" and didn't increase or decrease a player's stock as much as fans thought it would.

Early indications are the league will gather medical information about prospects this offseason, with that information made available to all teams. For prospects in need of "follow-up" examinations, one physician and one athletic trainer from each team reportedly will be available to examine them – likely in April. This is a major change that will make many teams uncomfortable because the medical examination is an often-overlooked – but critical – part of the pre-draft process. It's far less than ideal, but a lot of things in COVID-19 are far less than ideal. We'll see if that's how the medical part of the 2021 offseason actually goes. As for the combine increasing or decreasing players' stock … you're right that it doesn't – or at least, shouldn't – play as big a role as fans are often led to believe. I suppose the lack of a combine will cause some players to rise and others to fall. We'll never know.

Robert from Oneonta

Brett Favre stated he thinks the Jags should take Alabama wide receiver DeVonta Smith over Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence as the first draft pick. He feels Smith could be the next Randy Moss or Jerry Rice. I understand your points about needing a solid quarterback, and I concur. In your opinion, does Brett have a valid point?


Marcus from Jacksonville

Leonard Fournette. Jalen Ramsey. Yannick Ngakoue. Allen Robinson. Ronnie Harrison. TJ Yeldon. Tyson Alualu. Marcedes Lewis. Eight Jaguar draft picks contributing for playoff teams this season, three picked in the Top 10. Not saying I want them all back, (maybe a couple of them) but it does sting a little to see players that we drafted find more success on a different team. It's really going to hurt seeing Fournette run into the end zone in the Super Bowl in a couple weeks (even though I think Robinson is the better back). Just another twist of the knife for Jags fans, I guess.

The Jaguars must do a better job moving forward not only drafting quality players but keeping quality players. I don't know that that's debatable.

Kevin from Bakersfield, CA

You've always said that you believe the Jags will survive long-term in Jacksonville. The failed Lot J vote couldn't have helped, but I hope so. What makes you think so?

Because Khan wants the Jaguars in Jacksonville and he will do whatever he can to make it work until proven otherwise.

Jeremy from Jacksonville

Mr. O, I have read every O-Zone since you started a decade or so ago. There have been several times (including one fairly recently) where I have wondered if the streak indeed had been broken. Each time I harkened back to your claim that when such a monumental event occurs, it will not come as a surprise. As you say, fans are gonna fan, and countless times I've witnessed you provide measured responses in the face of such fanning. That is until recently, when the character of former defensive line coach and newly selected defensive coordinator was brought into question. Your impassioned defense of Joe Cullen was striking to me. I believe in second chances as well. Can you speak to anything specifically about Cullen that has inspired you to think so highly of him? For you to break character and provide such a heartfelt "defense" of the man must speak to the high quality of his character.

Because Joe Cullen is a good guy who made a mistake, and it struck me as ridiculous that someone who categorized what he did as so awful as to be un-hirable a decade and a half later. Also: self-righteousness is a pet peeve. There are enough forums where people can criticize people unreasonably and ridiculously for the sole purpose of feeling better about themselves. This doesn't have to be one.

Announcer from the best hood in Jax

They say defenses win championships, but the quarterback is the most important position to save a franchise. Can you explain this delicate balance?

You're probably not going to win a Super Bowl without your defense playing at a high level, but you're absolutely not going to contend for Super Bowls every season without a franchise quarterback.