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O-Zone: On the side

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

*Chuck from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL      *

Seemed like a really bad show by Balkke! Is this another opportunity to delay the inevitable?

I received this email Thursday, so I'll assume it references Jaguars General Manager Trent Baalke's season-ending media availability at the Miller Electric Center Thursday. Was the half-hour availability a "bad show?" Viewers will judge it how they wish – and with many Jaguars fans and observers these days seemingly predisposed to disliking whatever Baalke says or does, many probably didn't like what they heard from him Thursday. And that's fine. Some highlights: Baalke said outside linebacker Josh Allen will be with the Jaguars next season, though he didn't specify if that will be under a long-term deal or the franchise tag – because there's no way to know that yet. He also said the Jaguars must get bigger, stronger and more physical. He said they didn't stop the run or run well enough in 2023. He also said the roster will look different next season, and added: "We know what we need to do. We weren't a team that finished 2-15. We finished 9-8, one game out [of the postseason] and not good enough. I get that, but it's not a team that needs to be a total overhaul. There are good players in that locker room. There are good coaches in this building. There's good personnel, but we have what we need in this building. We just have to add some more to it. There's still a lot of growth to be had, but we trust we've got a pretty good nucleus of young players on this football team." I don't know if any of that qualifies as a "good show," but that was the gist of the availability. A lot of it anyway.

Mark from High Springs

I've got a question for O the reporter; what was the point of the Trent Baalke press conference? It seemed he wanted to dispel any negative press as fake news (or a "false narrative") and to assure us that the problems the team faced in 2023 could be attributed to injury, player performance and coaching. In other words, it appeared to serve him personally, and little else. When Doug is at the mic after a loss, he usually starts by saying the team needs to do better and that starts with him, "I've got to do better." Sure, that may just be 'coach speak' but as a fan is it wrong for me to expect the same level of introspection and humility from our GM?

I'm sometimes unsure what people expect from media availabilities. Baalke was asked questions Thursday and he answered them. I'm not sure there was a "point" beyond that. He was asked multiple questions about his relationship with Head Coach Doug Pederson and about reports involving offensive coordinator Press Taylor. He said that the narratives around those reports were false. As far as Baalke's introspection and humility … I guess I don't know how to judge that. Baalke doesn't speak to the media often. When he does, most of what he says is understandably analyzed and overanalyzed. I didn't particularly get the idea listening to Baalke Thursday that he was trying to be self-serving as much as he just was trying to answer a question. If some people did … OK.

John from Jacksonville

"Steve from Sunroom Couch Dear John. So now second-round picks are expendable?" "Of course not." They are if you consider who's in charge of picking.

Yeah, I got the original joke.

Arthur from Glassboro NJ

If Trent hasn't been able to build a team with a quarterback on a rookie contract, why should we trust him to be able to build a roster with a quarterback making $40-50 million a year? A quarterback on a rookie contract is the biggest advantage in the NFL and we wasted it without even trying to change things.

It seems many Jaguars fans don't trust Baalke and I'm not naïve enough to think what's written here will change that. But I don't know that it's fair to say Baalke hasn't built the roster at all. The Jaguars, remember, were 1-15 and 3-14 in 2020 and 2021. They have been 9-8 in the two seasons since, the first back-to-back winning seasons 2004-2005. As Baalke said Thursday, that's not good enough. But it's not nothing and it's not as if the Jaguars in the past two offseasons "haven't tried to change things." Baalke perhaps said it best Thursday when he said: "The easiest thing to do in the NFL is take an average football team, a struggling football team, and make it competitive. The hardest thing to do is take a competitive football team and make it a championship football team. We're in that phase. We have to take a competitive football team and turn it into a champion. That's not easy, but that's our job." Yep. That's the task.

John from Jacksonville

Jason from North Pole, AK I am sure "John from Jacksonville" who picked the Jaguars to suck and lose to Tennessee is a real blast at parties. He's more fun than me, I imagine. But that's admittedly a low bar. Just call it like i see it...Called the sad sad situation that was Nick Foles said he wouldn't finish the season on his feet behind an O line was better than most observers believed.

Text me so you can tell me more neat stuff about you.

Eddie from Sec 104

Ozone, Do you think that Bill Belichick is the GOAT Head coach. His record without Tom Brady is mediocre at best. I know all great head coaches have good quarterbacks. The fact that your guy Joe Gibbs won Super Bowls with different quarterbacks certainly should be discussed.

I consider Joe Gibbs the greatest NFL head coach of the modern era. He won three Super Bowls with three different quarterbacks – Joe Theismann, Doug Williams and Mark Rypien – with none of those quarterbacks close to being a Hall of Famer. He also made an NFC Championship Game with a fourth quarterback, Jay Schroeder. Not everyone agrees with this, but to not have Gibbs at least in "the conversation" of all-time greats is to not understand the NFL.

Fred from Naples, FL

I guess Don from Marshall, NC wasn't "all-in" on the number of offensive coordinator openings relative to importance of play calling. You whiffed on that're starting to show cracks in your armor.

I am the king of all funk.

Dave from Jacksonville

How many Head Coaching interviews has Press Taylor had thus far? (I'm assuming the jags have blocked multiple OC interview requests). How likely is it that we will lose him this offseason??

As is the case with many young coordinators, Jaguars offensive coordinator Press Taylor to my knowledge has not interviewed for an NFL head-coaching position. I expect he will be with the Jaguars' next season. It would not surprise me if Taylor someday is an NFL head coach.

Kevin from Bakersfield, CA

As a Jags fan since the beginning of the franchise, I have but one question. Are the Jaguars ever going to be in the Super Bowl in my lifetime? I'm 60 now, so I don't have much time left.

I expect the Jaguars to play in the Super Bowl sometime. They have played in three AFC Championship Games. They led in the fourth quarter of their last appearance in following the 2017 season. They were two games away from the Super Bowl following the 2022 season. I don't know when it will happen. But there's no reason it can't happen.

P Funk from Murray Hill

I heard and read at times early in the season when it seemed the team was struggling that "the team was reading their own press clippings." While I that our local media did play a part in hyping them up throughout the offseason, I really don't believe the players listen to or read local media reports. But with no starting-caliber free agents brought in to compete or draft picks used on few players that would push for a starting role this season, isn't that a message sent from the top that the current roster was good enough? It seems like the roster didn't feel internal pressure and may have thought they were entrenched as starters and "good enough." Just a fan thought.

I've received many versions of this question – and while many believe the Jaguars "were reading their press clippings" in 2023, I guess I just don't buy it. Were they doing this when they were 8-3 and fighting for the top seed in the AFC? Or did they just start doing it when they lost five of their last six games – losses that coincided with injuries to wide receiver Christian Kirk and quarterback Trevor Lawrence? Another thought: Considering the Jaguars went 9-8 each of the last two seasons, maybe they didn't "over" or "under" achieve either season. Maybe they're a 9-8 team.

Gary from St. Augustine, FL

One thing Trent didn't mention was that you suck.

It was off the record.