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O-Zone: No laughing matter

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Seamus from Sioux Falls, SD

Do you think Marrone will get another head-coaching gig down the line? Why do you think he was unsuccessful here ... quality of players, his own skills as a head coach, or his assistants (or was it TC)? I'd really like to hear your thoughts, please.

I doubt former Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone will be an NFL head coach again. This is not because he's a bad head coach; I actually think he's a fine NFL head coach – as evidenced by the Jaguars' record in his first season (2017), and as evidenced by the Buffalo Bills being OK and improving during his tenure there. Why was he unsuccessful here? As is often the case when a franchise goes bad, there are many reasons the Jaguars suddenly declined after that 2017 AFC South title season. The Jaguars didn't have good quarterback play, and it's hard to sustain success on a year-to-year basis in the NFL without that. The Jaguars started 3-1 the next season, then hit a rough patch with injuries and never recovered after that. The contract problems and off-field stuff piled up after that, and the decline accelerated. Quality of players sure didn't help. Not retaining quality players didn't help, either. The off-field issues players had with former Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin contributed, too. How much was Marrone? I don't know how to quantify that. I do believe he can win with a talented team and probably isn't a great head coach if he has limited talent. Which makes him like most NFL head coaches, to be honest.

Jim from Jacksonville

Does someone on the JAGS staff monitor comments from outside sources and report them to Shad Khan, such as "it would be best to part ways with Baalke?"

It's virtually certain that Jaguars Owner Shad Khan is aware of some reports – and even how some fans feel – regarding General Manager Trent Baalke. As for how much such things will influence Khan's decision-making, I would expect the answer would be "minimal." At the most.

Jim from Middleburg, FL

Do you think it's possible to trade back and get enough picks added to this year's draft? We need linemen on both sides of the ball and receivers. That's a lot of needs. Thanks.

Can the Jaguars trade back in the 2022 NFL Draft and add selections? At some point, yes. They hold the top selections in Rounds 1, 2, 3 and 4 – and those all can have trade value. Now, if you're asking whether the Jaguars can trade the No. 1 overall selection for huge value – i.e., another first-round selection or multiple second- or third-round selections – it currently doesn't look great for such a move. That sort of trade usually requires a team wanting to move up to No. 1 for a quarterback. Most analysts don't believe there's a quarterback worthy of the No. 1 selection. Sometimes, that changes. Sometimes, quarterbacks "move up the board" in the pre-draft process. We'll see.

Raymond sis from Orlando, FL

In our annual new coaching extravaganzas, what is the over under on "this time getting it right?"

I think you're asking how many times the Jaguars have gotten it right hiring a head coach. Let's go with Tom Coughlin (1995-2002), Jack Del Rio (2003-2011) and Marrone (2017-2020). All three made the postseason, and Coughlin and Marrone coached in AFC Championship Games.

Jeff from Jacksonville

Hello, John. Please tell me why the Jags can't take the best receiver in the draft number 1? I do not want an edge rusher or offensive lineman. I want receiver that can consistently catch the ball and get open.

The Jaguars absolutely can select a wide receiver No. 1 overall – and if there is a player worthy of that selection, I have little doubt they would be open to doing so. While the NFL for much of the last two-and-a-half decades – and perhaps longer – has shied away from selecting wide receivers so early, I expect changes in the game to change that thinking. The success this season of wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase with the Cincinnati Bengals shows the potential impact of an elite player at the position. The issue for the Jaguars this offseason likely won't be as much whether it's theoretically OK to take a receiver No. 1 as much as whether there's a receiver worthy of selecting No. 1 in this draft. The early thought is there is not. As much as you might like to have an elite receiver there, you can't force it. If elite is available at a different position, take elite. You can't have enough good players, and the Jaguars desperately need more.

Steve from Wallingford, CT

I don't know about you John, but the amount of digits in my paycheck matters more to me than the logo on my uniform.

Is there something besides money that's supposed to matter?

JT from Palm Coast, FL

Getting a healthy Etienne back is going to be like having an extra first-round pick next year.

Jaguars running back Travis Etienne, the No. 25 overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft, missed this past season with a Lisfranc injury. If he returns 100 percent, then yes … having him healthy next season would be like having a first-round selection.

Sam from Orlando, FL

Your answers when it comes to discussing the ineptitude of these front office regimes absolutely stink. I know you'll have something snarky to say, but "stuff happens" is not an answer for 25 years of mis-drafting the wide receiver position. One- or two-word responses when someone dares to question our current owner is laughable. I know they are your employer. But do better. Be objective and if they won't let you, then perhaps don't answer those questions. Because it's truly insulting to the people who love this team.

I've written about past and present Jaguars regimes every day for the past 10 years, now going on 11. I have dived deep – and we all know how important deep dives are – into pretty much every issue and transaction during that time. I have discussed Jaguars Owner Shad Khan in detail, and have done the same with head coaches from Urban Meyer to Jack Del Rio and with every general manager during that time. Some days I feel like going in-depth on certain questions. Some days I feel like giving a one-word answer on certain questions. I strive every day to make this an entertaining, informative column for Jaguars fans. I'll try to do better tomorrow. Perhaps you'll like the answer. Perhaps you won't. I suppose I'll muddle through either way.


Hey Zone, remind me again how Mike Tomlin's first head coaching job went.

Pretty good.

Steve from Nashville, TN

I will assume you will be recommending to whomever the general manager is at the time of the draft that they trade all six picks in the last two rounds on Saturday to move up in the draft so that you can wrap things up early like last year?

Good eye.

David from Ormond Beach, FL

What are the three biggest needs of the offense and the biggest needs of the defense? I believe you can buy a defense, but you have to draft an offense. Who are the best players at our point of need and where should they be drafted according to their grade?

I would go with wide receiver, offensive line and running back on offense – with running back included because of health concerns about James Robinson and Etienne. I would go with interior defensive line, safety and edge defender on defense. I agree that it's "easier" to find free agents defensively than offensively. As far as best players at point of need and where they should be drafted, that's bit deep for me – particularly before this early in the draft process. I expect the Jaguars to either draft defensive or offensive line No. 1 overall and address wide receiver in Round 2 and/or 3. That's an early semi-educated guess made before the Jaguars' decision-making structure is determined and before free agency. So, take that guess for what it's worth.

Cliff from Callahan, FL

My wife's first husband was an absolute dumpster fire of a human being. She thinks I'm awesome, but I think I had a pretty low bar to meet. I think of the Jaguars head coaching job the same way ...


Jason from North Pole, AK

Thinking back to training camp, did Travis Etienne look the part of a special talent worthy of a first round pick? He never really saw preseason action and I didn't know if it was because they wanted to hide how they might use him or if he simply wasn't earning it.

Etienne looked really fast and capable of making big plays. This was almost exclusively in practice. It looked like it could translate to games. We'll see.

Allen from St C.

Now that the season is over, inquiring minds want to know, have you ever laughed?

Ever? Yes. Lately? Nah.