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O-Zone: Just great

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Travis from High Springs, FL

Isn't firing the general manager basically the same as firing everyone? Because like you said in a recent answer, a new general manager is going to want to hire a new head coach. So, was this Shad Khan's way of saying to Marrone that he doesn't blame him, but changes have to be made?

The majority of O-Zone emails in the last 36 hours have – as expected – centered around Sunday's dismissal of longtime General Manager David Caldwell and what that dismissal means for the Jaguars moving forward. We'll dig into the subject more in subsequent questions, but I'll try to answer your specific question first – and the answer is that although firing a general manager isn't the same as firing everyone, the reality is that does typically turns out to be the case. A general manager often wants to hire his "own guy," whether that's a head coach with whom he has worked or a head coach he finds through his own interview process. To retain a head coach with a losing record also means having to explain that "hire" to a skeptical fan base and observers, and it's typically just easier for a new general manager to make a coaching change. What will the Jaguars' next general manager do about the head coach? I haven't the foggiest idea – mainly because Jaguars Owner Shad Khan just dismissed Caldwell Sunday and the process of hiring Caldwell's replacement has scarcely begun. It undoubtedly would be surprising if the new general manager retained Head Coach Doug Marrone and kept the majority of the coaching staff in place. A new general manager presumably would want some sort of change of direction or reset for a team that has won nine of its last 39 games. That presumption could be incorrect, though the odds of that seem low.

Jesse from Texas

In a recent O-Zone, you said the "timing felt right" for the Caldwell firing. But in every previous O-Zone, you always said there is no reason for a midseason firing. What gives?

Did I say that? Perhaps. I say many things. I do know I said last week that while it makes little-to-no sense to dismiss a head coach during the season, it did make sense for a general-manager change to happen late in the season. That's because it gives the owner a chance to hire from a somewhat larger candidate pool than otherwise might be the case.

Daniel from Johnston, IA

As hard as this team is fighting with a 1-10 record, I really hope they keep Marrone. This team's losses look nothing like the team's losses in past years where the games were safely out of hand by halftime. Marrone is getting their best, we just need a little more talent and experience.


Jason from Jacksonville

John, 10 straight losses, a franchise record, and more losses in the last three years than any other NFL coach during that time, so exactly how does Doug Marrone qualify as a good NFL head coach?

A great man once said, "It's always coaching in the NFL." The point that that great man was making was that fans tend to blame coaching for everything when in fact players often have sorta, kinda a lot to do with what happens on the field. I think I would like that great man. He sounds "awesome." I also think that great man would think that Marrone is getting as much out of this roster as possible this season – and that few coaches would do better in his situation. Then again, as the great man said: "It's always coaching in the NFL. It just is."

Sam from Orange Park, FL

Do you get the vibe this fanbase understands we cannot draft Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence if the New York Jets finish with a worse record than us? I thought it was pretty simple, but reading the comments, it seems like people think we hold the No. 1 pick.

What are "comments?"

Carlos from Mexico City, Mexico

If there was some way we could keep Doug without Dave, surely it would be to fire Dave now and evaluate Doug independently. Do you think it's still possible? He's a good coach, a leader of men and players fight for him. Or is any potential new GM bringing his own coach?

Anything is possible. We won't know what "any potential general manager" would do until we know the identity of the new general manager.

Ray from Alexandria, VA

If we end up with the second pick, and our new general manager doesn't pick Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields (or Lawrence in case the Jets hire Caldwell and he drafts a left tackle with upside), then I quit.


Rob from Ponte Vedra, FL

I would argue that Ramsey, Yan and many young players all started to become disgruntled after the 2017 season when Bortles was paid and none of our young defenders got paid. They all knew that they had won that year despite the handicap Bortles gave them and felt that one of them should have been paid instead while we just let Bortles contract play out. When you think of Caldwell's mistakes, it all goes back to Blake Bortles.

I would argue that former Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey and former defensive end Yannick Ngakoue became disgruntled in pretty much the way I laid it out in the recent answer that likely inspired this email. If they became disgruntled – as you suggest – in 2018 because they weren't getting paid then it's an example of extreme unreasonableness because … wait for it … the Jaguars weren't even allowed to start trying to extend their contracts until after the 2018 season. But hey … you're around the team more and talk to far more people close to these situations than I am. You're much more tied into everything. I'm sure your argument's probably right and mine's wrong.

Chiana from Munich, Germany

While it was time for a change, I really want to express my gratitude to Dave Caldwell. Yes, some of his picks did not work out, but overall he did find some good talent – especially in later rounds – and some good undrafted free agents. I wish him best of luck at his next position, but sometimes a change of scenery is required. So, one Fer Caldwell

Hey, one fer Caldwell!

John from Jacksonville

With empty and reduced capacity stadiums the norm will there be a reduction in the salary cap? How would that affect the cap space for teams? If a team is already tight to the current cap and it's reduced will they have to release players they'd rather keep? That would certainly change the free agent crop.

Yes, the salary cap is expected to be lower in 2021 because of the reduced capacity this season and the accompanying reduced revenue. The salary cap reportedly will have a low "floor" of about $175 million, though that number could be higher if 2020 revenues exceed original projections. That's going to affect teams because the cap might have been around $210 million in normal circumstances. Yes, that absolutely could force teams to release a player or two they hadn't previously expected to release. And yes, it almost certainly will change free agency. It won't make free agency an ideal way to obtain players, but it will mean a better market than otherwise would have been the case.

Daniel from Jersey City, NJ

O-man, what is the "comments section?"

Don't ask questions if you can't handle the answer.

Mark from Sobieski

Oh, Oh, I got it! Next game play Gardner Minshew II; the next, play Luton; then Glennon. Just keep rotating so they stay fresh!

Nah. I think they'll stick with Mike Glennon at quarterback against the Minnesota Vikings next week. We'll see.

Frank from Jacksonville

I fully understand that players play to win and coaches need to win, but at this point in the season with our current record and quarterback situation, Marrone and the team playing to win is counterproductive to what the franchise needs. At this point in the season, shouldn't the owner of the franchise set a common direction that the team should strive for and put the team in a better position for next year? What will winning a game or two do to benefit this franchise or even coaches' jobs? If they are truly taking a team-first approach, then shouldn't they look at the overall picture and agree that a better draft pick means better quarterback for the franchise for years to come? I know it's not ideal, but this is the situation we have been placed in.

Your idea may appeal to some in theory, but as I've stated often: your idea also means finding a head coach who's willing to try to lose. That's not realistic – no matter how carefully, extensively or often you lay out the reasons for doing so.

Adam from Stockton