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O-Zone: Leave it alone

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Tim from Fernandina Beach, FL

John: I get the angst concerning the head coach hire, but I submit we should be more concerned about the general manager. You can't win without talent no matter how good a coach you are. You've told us what to look for in a coaching candidate but what are the owners looking for in a general manager?

General manager and head coach are similar in importance. It's hard to win if you don't draft well and it's hard to win if you don't develop well. You want a general manager to be confident, to be able to communicate – and to understand how to scout and identify talent that will fit the schemes of the coaching staff, and that will fit with other talent on the roster. Leadership and ability to set an organizational tone matter for a general manager, though perhaps not quite to the extent that it matters for a head coach.

Bruce from Saint Simons Island, GA

O, Watching the playoffs. I admit bias in favor of the Jags, but I believe they are a top receiver and better linemen away from substantial improvement. What say you?

The Jaguars absolutely could improve with an elite wide receiver and an additional front-line player(s) on the defensive/offensive lines. That means adding at least three elite, front-line players in one offseason. Doable? Sure. Perhaps not likely, though I absolutely believe the Jaguars can improve next season. Perhaps substantially.

JT from Palm Coast, FL

I enjoy this football weekend traditionally because I'm a football fan. But damn, I can't wait for the Jags to finally be relevant for more than a year because it's been too long.


Justin from Jax

Hey, John. I swear, I don't know how you deal with some of these self-righteous, know it all undercover GMs/head coaches/offensive coordinators/defensive coordinators/special team aces/NFL players/creators of the earth and the heavens. My goodness. Sometimes the smartass comments and questions you get reminds me of glowing green sludge, because of all the toxic waste. How do you do it? Now get off my lawn. Where's my early bird special?

What you see as self-righteous, know-it-all undercover GMs/head coaches/offensive coordinators/defensive coordinators/special team aces/NFL players/creators of the earth and the heavens are fans. They're wrong a lot, but guess what? They're right a lot, too. More significantly, most of the ones who email, read and otherwise interact with this column are significantly more knowledgeable than, say, the guy next to me at Crispy's Saturday night rooting for the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers and cursing/praising each team on what seemed to be a random basis but perhaps was not. Either way, you know what? They're all fans. As for the self-righteous, know it all undercover GMs/head coaches/offensive coordinators/defensive coordinators/special Team aces/NFL players/creators of the earth and the heavens … God bless them. Give me more of them. They care about this team and want it to win. Thank goodness for them.

David from Ada, OK

Hey, John. I don't agree with you on a lot of things, but I'm fine with that and I'm sticking to my opinions. I also disagree with my wife on a lot of things, but I know I'm wrong.

You're right.

Michael from Banning, CA

What are the odds of bringing Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich in as head coach? Please make it happen.

Leftwich is among the candidates who reportedly have interviewed for the Jaguars' head-coaching position. There have been reports that he is among the favorites. With the Buccaneers' season ending Sunday, I expect more developments on this quickly. There is a report that Leftwich will interview a second time in Tampa Tuesday. It feels like Leftwich has a very good chance at the position. Beyond that, I have no idea how to set "odds."

Mark from Davenport, IA

Do the coaching chips start to fall into place with teams exiting the playoffs?

Very likely.

Eric from Columbus, IN

Can we please stop giving Shad a pass because he's a billionaire? Yes, he is very successful at making bumpers. I wasn't aware they threw a football, ran a football or tackled a football. It's possible to be very successful in business and be horrendous at managing a football team. So far, history would say the latter is true.

I know fans like to talk about giving people a pass, but I never know what it means. In this case, does it mean not criticizing Jaguars Owner Shad Khan? He has been criticized plenty. Everyone knows the Jaguars must get better. He knows. All he can do is keep trying to hire the right people to make it better. I don't know where criticism or passes fit there, but that's what has to happen.

Sascha from Cologne, Germany

Hey, John. If the Jaguars draft offensive tackle Evan Neal from Alabama, isn't the Walker Little selection again a wasted second-round pick? Or will he move to right tackle?

To be determined.

Mike from Atlanta, GA

What's your opinion on the career of Aaron Rodgers? Just going on the eye test watching him play, he's one of the most talented to ever play quarterback. It does seem like he should have more Super Bowl rings. He's never beaten the San Francisco 49ers in the playoffs. It's harder to rank because it's such a team sport that so many factors go into what makes a winning team. Is he like a generational great or does he belong up there behind Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, and the greats? Maybe he's a little like Dan Marino who was in my opinion maybe the best or one of the best but for many factors out of his control never won a Super Bowl?

I think Rodgers will be remembered as an all-time great quarterback and absolutely a generational great. I expect he will be named Associated Press Most Valuable Player for the 2021 season, which will mark his fourth time winning the award. Only former Indianapolis Colts/Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning has more (five). Yes, Super Bowls matter when analyzing quarterbacks. And it's Tom Brady's postseason success that separates him from all others. But not having that postseason success doesn't mean a quarterback doesn't belong among the all-time greats. I know many will disagree with that. Oh, well.

Dan from Varna, Bulgaria

Hi Zone, I don't see us competing for the AFC Championship any time soon, barring any lucky circumstances like 2017. On the second thought, do you think that the recent rules changes diminished the beauty of the game; all weekend, the defenders look hesitant to tackle and punish the offensive players when they had a good chance.

The Cincinnati Bengals won four games in 2021 and are in the AFC Championship Game next Sunday; I don't believe the Jaguars are a year from the Super Bowl, but it's also not impossible to turn a franchise around quickly if you have a franchise quarterback. On your second thought … the rules protecting players absolutely have changed how aggressively defenses play. Defenders must be wary of how and where they hit offensive players far more than was the case, and that seems to be increasingly true. It's a necessary change for player safety, but it undoubtedly has changed the game.

Peter from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

There has been plenty of angst in your emails over Jaguars wide receiver DJ Chark Jr.'s situation and I share it. You keep indicating he has not shown that he is a No. 1 receiver. The one time that he had league average quarterback play was former Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew II's one decent season and Chark made the Pro Bowl. We are never going to get out of this losing rut if our first- and second-round picks never get second contracts. Chark has flashed plenty and has earned a second contract. It would be just like the Jaguars to hold it against him when he has been provided mostly garbage quarterback play by management. They have the money; take the chance on the guy already in the building who has made a Pro Bowl.

So … one fer Chark.

Bryan from Tampa, FL

Where do you fall on the push for overtime changes in the playoffs? Seems like a lot of people focused on a coin toss and not giving up 40 yards in ten seconds, but there are a lot of people on my lawn.

I'm fine with the rules as they currently stand. Defense is part of the game. If a team can take possession, drive the length of the field and score, that team deserves to win. If a team can't stop the opponent, perhaps that teams doesn't deserve to win. If the NFL has reached a point that it's assumed that a defense can't possibly stop an opposing offense from scoring a touchdown with the game on the line, then perchance the game has veered too far in favor of offenses. And yes, those kids on the lawn are annoying. Me thinks they should skedaddle.