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O-Zone: Nothing left

MOBILE, Ala. – Let's get to it … Rick from Franconia, VA:
O, I've been watching the reaction to the hiring of Keenan McCardell as the Jaguars' wide receivers coach, and my reaction was, "Really?" My view: Hat tip for all he did as a player, but we just went from a guy recognized as one of the best wide receivers coaches in the entire NFL for the past two decades to a guy that didn't even have a job in the NFL last year. I am bracing for impact. What say you?
John: I say coaches get hired and leave NFL staffs every season, and there often is no rhyme and no reason to comings or goings – beyond a head coach or decision-maker being more comfortable with one coach or another. NFL coaching is a difficult, strange profession that often defies logic. That's why you can look at pretty much any coach's biography and see multiple stops with multiple teams – and that's true no matter the "quality" of the assistant or head coach in question. I thought Jerry Sullivan did a great job with the Jaguars' wide receivers and think Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns and the Jaguars' receivers benefited from his presence. I also think McCardell will be fine as the Jaguars' receivers coach. I always thought he would make a really good coach when I covered him as a player and I've thought the same thing during my conversations with him since he stopped playing. As far as McCardell not being in the NFL last season, don't sweat that. It's not unusual for good, young assistant coaches to be out of the league briefly at the start of their careers. It's a difficult business that often makes little sense. McCardell will be fine. No need to brace yourself over this one.
Levi from Bloomington, IN:
I'd really like to see the Jags jump up and grab Deshaun Watson, but I don't think they will for the sole fact that we have Blake Bortles on the team. Watson seems to be the guy that has that clutch factor, something we really need at quarterback. I just feel like this will be a situation similar to when we passed on Big Ben just because we had drafted Byron Leftwich. If the Jags fall in love with Watson, could you see them taking him, if available?
John: Sure, if the Jaguars love Watson they could take him – but I don't know that the Jaguars would need to "jump" any team to select him at No. 4 overall. It seems quite likely the former Clemson quarterback will be available at that time. I also don't know that the decision will hinge nearly as much on Bortles' presence on the roster as on how the Jaguars feel about … Watson! Should the Jaguars select him? That remains to be seen. The concerns over his ability to be a big-time pocket passer are legitimate – and while mobility is nice, making plays from the pocket remains a key, necessary attribute for elite NFL quarterbacks. There's a long way to go in Watson's evaluation process before the draft and I imagine it will be one of the No. 1 pre-draft issues league wide. Will the Jaguars fall in love? I doubt it, but we'll see. Sometimes love takes time.
Saif from Washington, DC:
If after next season Bortles shows us he is not our franchise quarterback, what does that mean for the future? Would we have to wait another season or two to find our next quarterback? And what would it mean for Doug Marrone and David Caldwell, who both had faith in Bortles? I assume Tom Coughlin would be spared any repercussions.
John: I doubt Bortles' play next season will have any repercussions for either Marrone or Coughlin. As for Caldwell, he has a three-year contract that runs through 2019. That speaks strongly to repercussions in the future. The more pressing question in your scenario is how long the Jaguars would have to wait to find their next quarterback. If they know after this season that Bortles isn't the answer, the Jaguars wouldn't wait at all. They would actively seek the next quarterback. As of right now, I wouldn't rule out the Jaguars' seeking that player right now. The odds of finding a starter better than Bortles for next season seem long, but does that mean the Jaguars aren't evaluating and exploring options? I doubt that.
John from Ponte Vedra, FL:
After watching the conference championship games this past weekend, it really became clear how far the Jags have to go to contend. Do you really think that major work is not required? Is that what you said? If so, do you still stand by that view?
John: My point in recent weeks has been that the Jaguars do not necessarily have major work/overhaul to do to contend for the postseason – and yes, I believe that. As far as contending for the Super Bowl, yeah … right now, it's fair to say that seems like a ways off. All four teams playing last weekend had elite quarterback play, and at least three – Green Bay, Pittsburgh and New England – had franchise quarterbacks playing in stable, long-term coaching situations. That's a good formula for perennial Super Bowl contention. It's not the only formula, but it's a good one.
Jerell from Columbia, SC:
Why is this franchise wasting time with Blake? We have seen enough to know he is garbage. We can't afford to waste 2017 to find out rather Blake is the guy. Cut him/trade him and move on and start the process again.
John: Don't be shy, Jerell.
Ray from North Augusta, SC:
Do you think that Mr. Khan has so much on the table that he needs to have a man like Tom to run things while he spends more time with his other interests? He can't be giving the other businesses the attention they need because the Jaguars are taking the bulk of his time.
John: Shad Khan since purchasing the Jaguars has allowed football people to run the football operations of the Jaguars and President Mark Lamping to run the business side of the operation. This isn't to say that Khan is not involved in the Jaguars, but it is to say that Coughlin's hiring isn't likely to change significantly the amount of time Khan spends with the organization. Khan has never pretended to be an expert on football, and since purchasing the Jaguars he has preferred to let people more knowledgeable in the area make decisions.
Jason from Jacksonville and Section 140:
John, I think it's easy to see now all of the blame for the past season's struggles is squarely being put on Gus Bradley's shoulders by the organization. Not that his historically terrible record doesn't speak for itself, but it seems like David Caldwell and Shad Khan were satisfied with what they did, and felt Gus was the one holding the organization back.
John: This has become a popular theory among observers – that the organization believes Bradley was solely at fault for all that went wrong last season. It indeed appears that is going to be the narrative of many observers moving forward. That's fine, and people are going to believe what they want to believe and say what they want to say. I can tell you that the people running the organization do not believe 2016's struggles were all on Gus Bradley – primarily because when you go 3-13 it's never all-anything. The Jaguars, remember, changed not only Bradley, they also changed the person with final say over the roster – and I expect they also will change a lot about the offensive and defensive schemes. I don't remotely expect personnel to stay the same, either. In fact, by the time the 2017 season starts playing out, I expect a whole lot around the Jaguars to look different, and perhaps we won't be quite as concerned about blame, either.
Rick from Alexandria, VA:
O, once upon a time Tom Coughlin had total control over the Jacksonville Jaguars. He was great as a head coach but he mismanaged the remainder of "football operations" so badly his greatness as a head coach couldn't overcome his shortcomings as a general manager and he was fired. He went on to win two Super Bowls as a head coach when someone else was the general manager. So now Shad Khan has hired him not as head coach, but to assume the only role he's ever failed at. What are you counting on that makes you believe it will be different this time?
John: The ability of an intelligent, motivated, successful football man with a knowledge of how to build an organization and select players to learn from experience.
Strnbiker from Dothan, AL:
There are 256 regular-season NFL games-- all gone with only the Super Bowl left. #sad Ready for your vacation? #happy
John: I don't believe in vacation. I believe in grinding myself to the nub and working until I don't have an ounce of energy left and until my mind is an absolute fuzz and I'm ready to keel over from exhaustion. Wait … no, I don't.

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