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O-Zone: Knowledge is power

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Rob from St. Augustine, FL

A lot of fans believe whether or not you're a successful coordinator (by team record) directly translates to their ability as a head coach. There's nothing I can say to make them understand this. Do you have any examples of coordinators who haven't won a lot but became great head coaches? Or vice versa?

Most coordinators-turned-head coaches have been at least relatively successful as coordinators because owners usually interview successful coordinators for head-coaching positions. Therefore, most head coaches who fail usually fall into the category of "failed head coaches who were successful coordinators." I suppose the best "argument" I can tell you along these lines is this: When I worked with Hall of Fame Head Coach Tony Dungy, he repeatedly told me that the worst mistake owners make is hiring head coaches based on how their respective offenses/defenses ranked or fared the previous season/seasons. His reason was the skillset required of a successful head coach – leadership, communication, dealing with daily issues, big-picture vision, organizational tone – was entirely different than the skillset needed for being a successful coordinator. A coordinator calls plays and determines schemes while a head coach must be a Chief Executive Officer. Being a coordinator simply does not automatically prepare you for being a head coach. It's a different job. One has little to do with the other.

JT from Palm Coast, FL

Are you a fan of any teams in sports? Any sport. I only ask because it seems like most people that do what you do don't "root" for teams. I just wonder does that side of you still exist for any teams? Did becoming someone who writes about sports make you jaded in that way?

I like to see the Jaguars win. I "root" for Roger Federer in tennis, but I fear those rooting days may be – or soon will be – in the past as he is near retirement. Beyond that … I don't root passionately for teams. Many sports writers I know still root passionately for teams. Many do not. But yes … I was more of a "fan" before I began working as a journalist. I was a huge fan of the Oakland A's, Seattle Supersonics, Washington Football Team and North Carolina basketball growing up and into my 20s. Kirk Gibson's home run tore me up, I loved the Rain Man and the Glove, I kicked a hole in my wall when Roger Staubach brought the Cowboys from behind in December 1979 and I cheered wildly when Chris Weber called timeout. Did writing sports jade me? Maybe. I love covering the games. I love my position at the Jaguars. But my emotions don't rise and fall on other sports anymore. It is what it is, I suppose.

Tom from Nocatee

I, too, believe in paying it forward. There is a slice of pepperoni pizza with your name on it at the JAX airport Sbarros.

Bless you, Tom.

Big on Blake from Philly

Zone, I'm still a bit remiss. When speaking of potential coaching hires, former Philadelphia Eagles Head Coach Doug Pederson's Super Bowls and former Indianapolis Colts/Detroit Lions Head Coach Jim Caldwell's Super Bowls were referenced. Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich also came up in discussion, but his championship with the Pittsburgh Steelers was left out. It was at one time a point of pride that all Jags starters went on to backup championship squads though brief as that was. Don't forget about Leftwich's Super Bowl pedigree! Go Jags.

Analysts tend to see these things differently. A head coach is going to get "credit" for a Super Bowl while a player isn't going to get a much "credit" for that Super Bowl if he were a backup quarterback. Just as a coordinator on a Super Bowl team won't get the same "credit" as the head coach. It's a matter of perception and it's how such things get discussed. But yes … Leftwich has been around a lot of winning – first as a player with the Steelers and recently as a coach with Tampa Bay. No doubt.

Newenglandboy from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

Can the Cowboys please stop comparing themselves to the Jags! In a league where it's all about "what have you done for me lately" over the past 25 years the Cowboys playoff record is 4 wins and 11 loses with 0 NFC Championship game appearances! The Jags playoff record is is 7 wins and 7 losses with 3 AFC Championship appearances! The Cowboys and "America's Team" are living in the past! The way back in the day past! Kinda like the Yankees! Go Red Sox!!!

I get emails like this sometimes.

KC from Orlando, FL

What do you think the odds are that we bring back Chark? I see several similarities between his situation and Allen Robinson with major injuries on a contract year. He has shown he can produce as the No. 1 receiver given his prior Pro Bowl season. I understand this is a new front office regime and that Robinson was far more accomplished than Chark to this point. It looked like he had a good start to the season working with rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence. Go Jags!

There indeed are similarities between Robinson's situation during the 2018 offseason and Chark's situation now, and you laid out the differences well. Because the Jaguars indeed will have new decision-makers this offseason than they did in 2018, Robinson signing with the Chicago Bears rather than the Jaguars that offseason won't likely influence the Chark situation. As I've written often before, the Jaguars' decision with Chark won't be easy. Chark has had enough success and has shown enough in flashes to draw interest from other teams on the open market this offseason. I expect his representation is trying to get an idea of that interest now as free agency approaches in mid-March. At the same time, it's fair for the Jaguars to be wary of paying Chark like an elite, No. 1 receiver – because he hasn't proven he is at that level. I hope the Jaguars can reach with a deal with Chark because I think he can be a really good receiver in the NFL for a long time. Whether the sides can agree on a number likely will be the issue.

Saif from Alexandria, VA

When it is said that a head coach opening is attractive or unattractive to candidates, do potential head coaches actually avoid certain teams/situation? With 32 teams and only a few of those hiring every year, I imagine you'll take any of them since you never know when your next opportunity will come (unless you're some amazing candidate teams are fawning over).

While analysts and observers – and even people within the NFL – indeed love to talk about "unattractive" and attractive" head-coaching opportunities, your implication is correct that such talk is relative. There are certainly positions that are more "attractive" than others. When the Green Bay Packers position was open in the 2019 offseason, that was an uber-attractive opportunity because of an elite quarterback in Aaron Rodgers at the peak of his career. An "attractive" head-coaching opportunity in the NFL is essentially one with a great quarterback and supportive, patient ownership. The Jaguars have the latter. They might have the former in Trevor Lawrence. I expect that will mean many head coaches see it as attractive. We'll see.

Lawrence from Omaha, NE

You know, all these people that are against coordinators and insist on someone with experience. Doug Marrone had experience, that didn't quite work out (although I do feel he got a bit of a raw deal do to inferior talent and QB play).


Charles from Mandarin

Why should we as fans have any confidence in the coach hiring process when the two people making the decisions are the two biggest failures in that area in the entire NFL?

The Jaguars have lost enough in the last decade that this is a legitimate question. And I have no doubt that many Jaguars fans don't have confidence in the hiring process. Because of that, I don't know that there is any "formula" that would inspire confidence outside of Owner Shad Khan not being involved. But here's the thing: Khan owns the Jaguars and that's not changing. And he absolutely will – and should – run the process and make the final decision. So, all Khan can do is what any owner does in this situation: work the process as hard as he can, ask the best questions he can, find the best candidate he can and hired the best candidate he can. At that point, he will do what every owner who hires a coach does: Support the coach he hired – and hope for good results with good fortune. If the hire works out, fans will gain confidence. That's the only way.

Joe from Jacksonville

I'm certain you were wondering, and not to diminish the great Jaguars uniforms of past, but I actually love the helmets and modern logo.

Wow. Now I know.