O-Zone: Just win, baby

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Bill from Hawthorn Woods, IL:
I know all the focus is on the head coach. Clearly that is a critical decision. I am curious about your thoughts on the offensive coordinator, though. Blake Bortles has had three in three years as the starting quarterback. That can't help his development. What do you think helps the offense improve faster? A) Provide some stability by keeping Nathaniel Hackett and the current system while focusing on roster improvement and discipline, or B) hire someone like Mike McCoy, who has a great offensive mind with hopes of providing a jolt to Blake's development? Bonus question ... how much does a head coach candidates' view on this issue weigh on Shad and Dave in selection process?
John: The Offensive Coordinator/Young Quarterback indeed is one of the great NFL conundrums, and yes – I like writing and saying "conundrum." It's fun, especially if you extend the final "m:" condundrummmmmmmmm. As far as this particular conundrum goes, it's one that often tends to feed on itself, gaining momentum and clouding the ability to assess the quarterback. It goes like this: a young quarterback struggles because he is a young quarterback, and because he struggles his team loses. Because his team loses, the offensive coordinator is fired. Because the offensive coordinator is fired, one of the key elements needed for a quarterback's success – continuity – is impossible. Is it the chicken or the egg? My guess is if Hackett were to remain as the Jaguars' coordinator, he would not run the exact system as Greg Olson ran this season, so the reality is whatever offense Bortles runs next season, it will be relatively new. For that reason, the best thing that can happen is for the next Jaguars head coach to hire the best offensive coordinator he can find and let Bortles dive head first into his next coordinator. It ain't ideal, but when you lose as much as the Jaguars have lost in recent seasons, you don't get ideal.
Billy from Orange Park, FL:
According to the "talking heads," the interview with Tom Coughlin failed to reach a "common ground." Any insight to what was discussed and why he's not a good fit?
John: I haven't heard for certain that Shad Khan believes Coughlin isn't a good fit. I've heard people speculating and reporting that it's not a good fit, and that there's no common ground – and that's not the same thing.
Brandon from Duval:
John, the report about Bortles being hurt most of the year kind of put things in perspective for me and explains the regression for the most part. Not having confidence in your arm can cause one to overthink more. Do you think that was his main issue and he can come back better and healthier next year?
John: I'm not on board with the idea that the injury was a real big factor for Bortles this season, and I don't get the idea he considered it a huge issue, either. He did a good job playing through it, and I actually thought for the most part he played better at times after the injury than before. While Bortles' accuracy issues were a problem for a good part of the season, as big an area of focus moving forward must be decision-making and pocket awareness. Those areas at times have been as or more concerning.
DUVAL DOOM from Section 217:
What a stupidly disappointing year. What a terrible way to have something you look forward to so badly, end. I am so frustrated. Maybe I'll be back to talking smack and never-ending optimism on Twitter before I know it, but I don't know. This feels like more of a soul crusher. One damn win at home – one – in a season everything was supposed to come together. Awesome.
John: The 2016 season sucked. That's not the cleanest way to say it, but that's the truth. It was supposed to be a season in which the Jaguars pushed for .500 – and at the very least, it wasn't supposed to be one in which the team challenged for its worst record in franchise history. Considering that season followed a whole bunch of other seasons that have … well … sucked, it's unsurprising that your fan self would feel crushed. It's unsurprising your fan self would feel frustrated. It's logical you would feel that way for a while. I got a sense a lot of players felt that way, too, which helped explain a lot of the comments read and heard this week as last year's coaching staff made its way out of the building. Losing isn't fun. People don't like it. When you lose as often as the Jaguars did this season, it takes a while for the effects to ease and for enthusiasm to return. It just does.
Daniel from Duval:
Before the draft, lots of people were saying that Myles Jack would only have five good years before his knee wears out. Is there any news on Myles Jack's knee wearing out? Or does it seem he can have a long NFL career?
John: People commenting on Jack's knee leading to the draft were speculating, and the bottom line on Jack's knee is it's an issue that could eventually require serious surgery – and it's also an issue that eventually could be career-altering or career-ending. It also is an issue that might not be career-altering or career-ending. I don't anticipate "news" on this issue because there won't be regular updates on the matter. Jack essentially will be in a position where he will be able to play until his body no longer allows him to do so – which makes him a lot like a lot of other NFL players.
Jerell from Columbia, SC:
The Jags will be foolish to handcuff themselves to Blake Bortles next year. Trade, draft, sign, another viable quarterback or we will be having this same conversation next year. The guy isn't any good: look at the record, stats, the fact that he has gotten three offensive coordinators fired and one head coach. Any coach taking this job would be crazy to hitch their wagon to Bortles and they shouldn't have to. That's why in my opinion I wanted Dave gone as well because I feel he is going to strongly encourage the coach to give Blake a shot when he doesn't deserve it.
John: I don't see the Jaguars as being tied to Blake Bortles. I think that topic is going to be Issue No. 1 when Shad Khan, David Caldwell and others meet with head-coaching candidates, and although Caldwell believes in Bortles I don't get the idea his opinion on the matter will be anything close to the final word. But there's little question that Bortles will be in the competition. He probably will be competing for the opportunity. The questions are, "Can he win that competition?" and "How difficult will that competition be?"
Paula from Brunswick, GA:
I'm rooting for the Josh McDaniels hire – him bringing in his guy, the quarterback he drafted in the first round and reading your back-peddling on your assessment of Tim. There's really nothing else to root for around this franchise anyway.
John: Why would I back pedal on my assessment? I don't think Tim Tebow is a good NFL quarterback; he hasn't made an NFL roster in a very long time, so apparently most around the NFL agree. If McDaniels is hired and brings in Tebow and Tebow proves to be an NFL-quality quarterback, then I would be … wait for it … wrong about Tebow! Worse things have happened in my life. Shoot, worse things will probably happen this afternoon. Good for Tebow if it happens. It would make a heck of a story. I'm sure crazier things have happened. It's a short list.
Paul from Temecula, CA:
I guess Kelvin Beachum's comments answer my question about why Gus Bradley as a coach didn't translate to a winning team on the field (although the losing can't ever be attributed to one person/thing).
John: Gus Bradley didn't win enough games. No one would dispute that. And if Beachum and other players believe talking about winning would have produced more winning, then perhaps the word "winning" will be said more next year – and perhaps the victories will come in bunches because of it. Let's hope so. Jaguars fans deserve that. Interim head coach Doug Marrone talked about winning and the Jaguars beat the Tennessee Titans. He talked about winning the following week and the Jaguars blew a 17-point first-half lead and looked a lot like the team that couldn't close games for seven consecutive weeks under Bradley. I think Marrone is a good coach who will do a good job wherever he is a head coach, but I don't know that the number of times he says winning is going to be the reason that he does a good job. I imagine I'll remain in the minority on this, and that's OK because I imagine it will become a fading issue pretty soon: But while Bradley not talking about winning has become a hot topic among players and fans – and while that has become the reason de jour for the Jaguars' struggles in recent years – I'm just not on board with the idea that players don't grasp the notion that winning is the key in the National Football League. It's a cool thing to talk about, and it's an easy thing to criticize. It just doesn't feel all that substantive. But again, I've been wrong before. Paula can tell you that.

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