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O-Zone: High hopes

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Nick from Virginia Beach, VA

Why can't we have nice things? Why does this team ruin everything fans can get excited about? I'm tired of disappointment and that's all this franchise has been for a decade.

I assume you're referencing the Jaguars not yet hiring a head coach – and specifically, not yet finalizing a deal to make former quarterback and current Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich the next head coach. There also were reports Wednesday night that the Jaguars would conduct a second interview with Green Bay Packers and former Jaguars offensive coordinator Nate Hackett – and that Indianapolis Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus remains a possibility. Those reports were followed Thursday morning by reports that Hackett will take the head-coaching position with the Denver Broncos, making this situation appear fluid. This situation illustrates the reality is that deals aren't done until they're done – and that just because usually reliable sources report that something will happen it doesn't mean that it necessarily will happen. While Leftwich would be a popular choice among fans, and while there definitely was celebration when many assumed he was getting the job, the idea remains to get the process done correctly rather than to get the process done first. I still believe Leftwich has a very good chance at the job. It still feels like he's the "leader," whatever "leader" means. But Leftwich and Eberflus both appear to be very good candidates – and I expect both to be a head coach in the NFL in 2022. If either is the Jaguars' head coach, fans should feel good about the hire. Both can be "nice things," whatever the immediate reception and popularity of the selection.

Josh from Fernandina Beach (via Ft. Lauderdale)

I know you won't officially report on it until it's official, so we'll call this a hypothetical; your thoughts on the Leftwich hire? Thanks and Go Jags!

HYPOTHETICALLY, I see no problem with the Jaguars hiring Leftwich as the head coach. The "cons" in a pros-cons argument theoretically would be his relatively youth and inexperience, but Leftwich at 42 isn't all that young for an NFL head coach anymore – and the way to gain experience as a head coach is to … become a head coach. There are far more pros regarding Leftwich than cons. He's considered one of the top young offensive minds in the NFL and he reportedly has the communication and leadership ability – and the ability to set an organization tone – necessary to be a successful NFL head coach. I thought the Jaguars might lean in the direction of a candidate with NFL head-coaching experience because of the situation the organization endured for the past years. That doesn't make such experience a prerequisite for success. If Leftwich indeed is the next Jaguars head coach, there's no reason he can't be successful. We'll see.

Matty from St. Augustine, FL

Looks like Leftwich is our new head coach!!! Excited and nervous! Let's Go Jags!!!! DDDUUVVAALLLLLLL.

Stay tuned.

Bill from Hawthorn Woods, IL

If Leftwich is the next head coach, it feels a little risky, but I can get behind it. One … it isn't former Houston Texans Head Coach Bill O'Brien. Two … I assume it increases the likelihood that Jaguars defensive coordinator Joe Cullen sticks around. That said, it seemed someone with experience was the safer choice. I hope Byron can be the next Sean McVay. If this is the path forward, what does it say to you?

What Leftwich being the Jaguars' next head coach would mostly mean is that Jaguars Owner Shad Khan had the right feeling about Leftwich after an extensive interview process. On a secondary note, it also would be a case of the Jaguars being in line with a recent trend of NFL teams hiring young offensive coordinators/offensive minds as head coaches … McVay of the Los Angeles Rams, Matt LeFleur of the Green Bay Packers, Zac Taylor of the Cincinnati Bengals and Kliff Kingsbury of the Arizona Cardinals among them. The trend makes sense given the offense-centric nature of the league. Perhaps it's the right direction. There's no reason that can't be the case.

Nathan from Utah, US

Zone, what's your favorite football venue, and why? Also, what's your favorite football town, and why?

I suppose my favorite venue is Lambeau Field in Green Bay because of the history, and I like Heinz Field in Pittsburgh and M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore because of the atmospheres. I suppose I like Pittsburgh and Baltimore as football towns for the same reason.

Jim from Jagsonville

I am all for Leftwich getting a shot at head coach. What I don't understand is why Tebow wasn't interviewed? He could play tight end and be head coach! Go Jaguars!!!

Too soon.

Cristiano from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

I totally agree that a head coach should be hired because of leadership skills, ability to set an organizational tone, etc., but what usually makes coordinators hot candidates is mainly the success of their offense/defense, right?

Yes. It's a big reason so many mistakes get made in hiring head coaches.

Reuben from Pikesville

I was married the day before the 2010 NFL season started. We honeymooned in Niagara Falls before heading into Canada the next day. Listening to Buffalo Bills talk radio that day, it was interesting to listen to the utter despair by their fans. They had lost to Miami, by my memory, and they literally had no hope of ever being any good again. It took a while, but that changed. So, there is hope for the Jaguars; if the Bills could turn it around, they could too.

Every NFL franchise is capable of success – very definitely including the Jaguars. Franchises such as the Indianapolis Colts, Cincinnati Bengals, Los Angeles Rams, New England Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers all have had long stretches of being at or near the bottom of the NFL during the Super Bowl era – and all of those franchises have been in the postseason in the last two seasons. There is a perception among many observers – Jaguars fans included – that the Jaguars can't succeed. This is simply not the case. Their time will come eventually. History says that absolutely will be the case. They just have to earn that time by doing things right off the field and playing well on it.

Brian from Round Rock, TX

What's our No. 1 need? I think it's a negotiator that can retain our own players. Whoever has been in charge of that needs to go.

The top "negotiators" in terms of retaining players from 2013-2020 were Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin (2017-2019) and General Manager David Caldwell (2013-2016, 2020). Neither are now with the organization, so those responsibilities have pretty much already went.

Jordan from Mandarin

Sean Payton becomes the best head coach on the market, right? I'm sure he'll take the year off, but don't we have to make the phone call.

Payton left his position as the New Orleans Saints' head coach Monday, and he indeed sounded as if he plans to take at least this season off. Payton is under contract with the Saints through the 2023 season, so a team would have to compensate New Orleans to make the hire. That compensation likely would be significant – perhaps a first-round selection. The Jaguars theoretically could "make the phone call" here, but this feels like Payton taking a year off and coaching again beginning in 2023. We'll see.

Steve from Wallingford, CT

An analyst said something along the lines of, "Aidan Hutchinson doesn't have the ceiling like either of the Bosa brothers or Myles Garrett, but he has a really high floor." In my head, all I heard was "safe pick" and I immediately went, "Yep, that's who the jags are taking – in the same vein as Alualu or Taven Bryan." Honestly, I can't help but feel disappointed by the top of the draft this year.

With former Jaguars defensive lineman Tyson Alualu having played 12 NFL seasons, it may not be quite fair to compare him to Jaguars defensive tackle Taven Bryan. Either way, it's premature to be disappointed by the top of the 2022 NFL Draft. No, it doesn't have prospects projected to be franchise-changing players on the leave of the Bosas (Nick and Joey) or Garrett (Myles). But those are projections. Those aren't necessarily reality.

Al from Orange Park, FL

I feared that adding playoff teams/games would "dilute the product." That the difference between the top seeded teams and the extra bottom seeded teams would be so great that some of the games would be non-competitive blowouts. It would appear than my fears were unfounded ...

Those fears were anything but unfounded. The postseason games in Round 1 were largely uneventful with just one "upset" and just two games decided by seven points or less. The seventh-seeded Philadelphia Eagles and Pittsburgh Steelers – the teams added to the postseason by adding an extra team – lost by 16 and 21 points, respectively.

Tery from Jacksonville

I hope Leftwich is our Mike Tomlin.

Well, sure.