JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Gary from St. Augustine, FL:
The Jaguars' interview with Josh McDaniels reportedly went well. How would you handicap the head-coaching search right now?
John: Mike Smith, Doug Marrone, Kyle Shanahan, Josh McDaniels. That's based on media reports and my understanding of what the Jaguars are looking for in this search. These are all qualified candidates with strong arguments. Smith and Marrone have head-coaching experience and have won in the NFL. Shanahan has had success in different situations. McDaniels has a strong argument as perhaps the hottest candidate of the offseason. I'm still leaning toward Smith being the Jaguars' next head coach. He feels like the right combination of experience, leadership, past success, etc. Stay tuned.
Jeremy from Dodge City, KS:
Am I the only fan left that feels optimistic?? It seems like everyone is feeling the "All is lost moment." I feel excited about getting a new head coach and I feel this team is going to do great next year!!! PLAYOFFS!
Robert from Moorpark, CA:
Anyway you see Tyrod Taylor being snagged by the Jags in the offseason? Please help make this happen, Zone.
John: Tyrod Taylor indeed is the sort of quarterback who theoretically could be brought in as competition for Blake Bortles. He is experienced, has had success and it appears he may be available. He also has a strong arm and can make plays with his legs. The question about Taylor and the Jaguars is the same question as about any quarterback and the Jaguars: what role is the team envisioning him playing, and what role does he want? Would a player such as Taylor come to Jacksonville to compete with Bortles? Would the Jaguars pay as much as a player such as Taylor might demand if he's not coming in as the starter? Those are serious issues to consider. And they're the reason that while bringing in competition for Bortles sounds logical, finding the right competition could be easier said than done.
Marcus from Jacksonville:
If the Jags decide to retain Luke Joeckel at left guard, do you think there will be any hesitation from him accepting a left-guard contract, or do you think he might try to pursue a move to a team that would let him play left tackle? That's a big pay cut if he thinks he can still play tackle.
John: Because of his knee injury this past season, Joeckel may not be in a position to dictate terms this offseason. I easily could see a scenario under which Joeckel signs a one-year deal and agrees to play guard with the Jaguars. If he plays well and remains healthy that could lead to an opportunity somewhere at left tackle.
Dave from Duval:
What a conundrum. If Doug Marrone had been named interim head coach after the Tennessee game, you could have gotten the best assessment possible of Marrone for nine games. That would be some handy info to go off of now to help with your decision. This franchise has been plagued by bad decision after bad decision. Bottom line.
John: People are making a big deal out of the issue – probably bigger than necessary. The Jaguars have been around Marrone for two seasons. David Caldwell and Shad and Tony Khan have a good idea what he is about. He also has a resume that includes two seasons as an NFL head coach and four seasons as a collegiate head coach. He clearly showed in the final two weeks of the season that he can handle himself as a head coach and handle the leadership role. An NFL head coach isn't a magician. He's rarely a cure all. We saw that in the final two games of the season. Marrone did a very good job. The Jaguars were focused and inspired and motivated. They won one game and lost the other. Had a few things gone right in one of the games they could have gone 2-0. Had a few things gone wrong in the other they might have gone 0-2. Had Marrone had taken over with nine games remaining and reeled off a 6-3 record, then yeah … the decision might well have been easy. But what if he had gone 4-5? Or 5-4? Would the losses have been his "fault" and made him a bad candidate? Did the loss to the Colts in Indianapolis make him a bad candidate? Marrone is a good candidate for the Jaguars' head coaching position. That's true no matter how long he held the interim head-coaching position.
Fred from Naples, FL:
You hear a lot of rumors about certain coaching candidates for the Jaguars being concerned about the quarterback situation here and the risk of Blake really being a franchise guy. How do you think Doug Marrone feels about Blake? Do you sense concern on his end? I just think we are going to end up with Doug ... and I would be OK with that.
John: I think very few head-coaching candidates entered the interview process 100 percent confident in Bortles as a franchise quarterback. Bortles in three NFL seasons hasn't played well enough consistently enough to earn that level of confidence. I imagine in his heart of heart of hearts he has the same concerns, but Marrone also has been around the Jaguars and around Jaguars offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett enough to see things in Bortles that can develop and be built upon.
Mark from Archer, FL:
John, count me among those who hope we do not make Doug Marrone the new head coach. If you retain him you have the possibility that he retains the coaching staff. While everyone blames Bradley, I believe the whole coaching staff should be blamed. Personally I want a completely fresh start from the current coaches.
John: Yes, blame all of the coaches. Every #@%&*$d one of them. Because it's always coaching in the NFL.
Jim from Meridian, ID:
John: Despite the fact you never respond to my comments, I love reading the daily back and forth banter. People are very passionate about this team, which is cool. I like it. My question: What's your relationship with Jerell from S. Carolina?
John: I haven't spoken to Jerell since the last time our families vacationed together. It is now known as the Little Debbie Star Crunch Incident, and my wife and son know better than to bring it up.
JG from Silver Spring, MD:
Hi John. Regarding Bortles, according to Pro Football Reference, there have been 38 35-plus-touchdown seasons in NFL history. By my count, 28 of those seasons were put together by quarterbacks who are in the Hall of Fame or are near-locks. Also, only three QBs have achieved this before turning 24: Dan Marino, Matthew Stafford and Bortles. Obviously this year was a regression, but I really hope we get to see whether Bortles can fulfill his potential. It would be nice to be able to look back at 2016 as a stumbling block on the way to something great. Happy New Year.
John: Bortles will get a chance to show he should be the Jaguars' starting quarterback. That doesn't mean he automatically be anointed the starter, but if he deserves to start he will start.
Tyler from Jacksonville:
I believe Doug Marrone did a great job as interim coach. He said more in two weeks of press conferences than Gus did in 200 weeks or so. He grabbed leads in his only two games that would rank among Gus's Top 3 leads in 62 games. But no way can he be the coach because it is a faithless, uninspiring hire. If the team's brass thought Marrone was an upgrade, they would have given him more time to prove himself. A Marrone hiring signals that Dave Caldwell is on thin-enough ice that a sub-par 2017 results in a full-clean house akin to the Gene Smith/Mike Mularkey pairing. I suppose that is the reality of the situation but with a Shanahan hire, amongst others, it would mean that it was possible for the coach to outlast the GM and use 2017 to kick start installing his own system.
John: The hiring of the next head coach shouldn't be about signals or faith or inspiration. It should be about hiring the best head coach. If that's Marrone, hire him. If not, don't.
Stephen from Jacksonville:
One thing we learned last season was that teams with a dominant defense and smart, average quarterback play can still win championships. Is there any chance the Jaguars focus mainly on improving the defense again in this year's draft? There are seemingly already several pieces in place that would enable the defense to be very good in the near future (Jalen Ramsey, Telvin Smith, Malik Jackson, and Yannick Ngakoue). If the right talent is available when the Jaguars select, are you in favor of trying to build an elite defense through the 2017 draft class? Aside from pass rushers, where do the Jaguars need the most help on the defensive side of the ball?
John: You can't be too dominant at pass rusher or anywhere on the defensive front.
O-Zone: Impossible scenario
JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Gary from St. Augustine, FL: