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O-Zone: One more fer

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Josh from Rochester, MN:
Sucks. I understand the move, but I don't like it. Feels like starting over again.
John: This was one of seemingly countless emails Sunday evening and Monday morning on the obvious topic of the firing of Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley – and as might be expected, the emails ran a range of reaction and emotions. Relief. Disappointment. Hope. There were also the expected I-told-you-soers who have wanted Bradley fired for a long time and were ecstatic it "finally" happened. All of that's fine. It's part of being a fan, and firing an NFL head coach understandably brings a slew of reaction. The bottom line: however you feel about Bradley as a head coach, it was going to be difficult if not impossible to bring him back after this season. It had simply reached an end. I have written often and will continue to write that Bradley was overly criticized and that to blame him entirely for the 14-48 record over four seasons is to ignore that for the first two and perhaps three seasons it would have been difficult for any coach to have had a better record than he did. But when Bradley received a contract extension late last season, it became obvious the Jaguars were going to need to at least get pretty close to a winning record for Bradley to continue as head coach. That didn't happen. While Bradley made mistakes and while the Jaguars showed a disturbing lack of discipline at times this season, I don't believe that Bradley was remotely all that ailed the Jaguars this season. Had quarterback Blake Bortles played marginally better, the Jaguars could have won four or five more games – and if that had happened, the conversation around Bradley would have been much different. But whatever the reason, it was clear it was time for a change. You can only lose so long in the NFL as a head coach before a change is going to be made and it was clearly going to happen in the coming weeks. As it was, it happened Sunday. Does that mean starting over? In one sense, yes, because the direction will be new. But there is talent on this roster and this doesn't have to be a massive "rebuild" on the scale of 2013. Will a change provide a spark? Will a new direction be the answer? That's the hope. Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell will speak to the media at 2 p.m. Monday. We'll start finding out more about that direction then.
Dave from Duval:
We're not happy Gus was fired. We thought that the future of the franchise is better off without Gus as the head coach – and apparently the owner agreed. Stay tuned.
John: Everyone involved in the decision hopes that the future of the franchise indeed is brighter than the recent past – Bradley absolutely included. I have no doubt that will be the case, and the time indeed had come where a move was inevitable. Will change bring results? That's the hope. Was Bradley chiefly responsible for what was going wrong with the organization? I have my doubts, but perhaps the shakeup and redirection that a coaching change brings will have the desired results. As you say, stay tuned.
Don from Duval:
I know you're hurting now, Zoney. But time heals wounds unless you're a Jags fan. Then time brings new deeper wounds.
John: This day isn't remotely about me. Am I sorry that a good man lost his job and didn't find success despite complete and total heartfelt commitment to that cause? Of course. To feel otherwise would lack a certain amount of decency and compassion, I think. But don't feel for me. Feel for Bradley, and the families of coaches whose lives will be affected by this. That's real-life stuff, and not something to celebrate.
Andrew from Mattoon, IL:
Tip of the hat to Coach Gus. Loved his passion and positive attitude. I wish him well wherever he lands.
John: Indeed.
Jeff from Jacksonville:
I keep hearing that one of the reasons Gus didn't have success is because he didn't bring enough of his "own players" from Seattle to help implement the type of locker-room culture he wanted. How important do you actually think this is to coaching?
John: I actually haven't heard that theory a whole lot and I don't know how much different the last four seasons would have been had Bradley brought players from Seattle. Unless, of course, those players were named Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman, Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch, Kam …
Dave from Jacksonville:
Maybe if we get an even nicer head coach this time it will work out better.
John: Perhaps. Niceness doesn't really have anything to do with anything either way, but if you want a mean guy … who knows … maybe Shad Khan and David Caldwell will shoot that to the top of the list.
Merry Christmas from Earth:
The next head coach should not be stuck with No. 5 because he is a coach killer. I hope they give him the chance to start with who he wants at quarterback. But can we admit this rebuild was a failure and no team should ever rebuild like this again?
John: I think there's still a lot to be said for the way the Jaguars tried to rebuild the culture of the organization. And there's little question that you must try to rebuild primarily through the draft. I would say in retrospect that the main issue that hurt the Jaguars the last couple of seasons was an overall lack of experienced core players at key spots in the roster. This remains a young team at some critical spots without core players who have been with the Jaguars since the beginning of their careers. It's difficult to have such players when you draft poorly and that was part of the dilemma General Manager David Caldwell faced when he took over the roster. It takes time to draft and develop your own core guys into six- and-seven-year veterans. That's what this team really, really lacks—that, of course, and reliable play at quarterback.
Brian from Section 238:
Bench Bortles. You can't argue otherwise.
John: I doubt that happens this season.
Scotty from Points North:
Call it what you will but hiring a new coach is a rebuild. Oh the pain of being a Jaguar fan …
John: OK.
Matt from Union City, TN:
Ramsey is other worldly. That is all. #DTWD
John: It would have been easy before the announcement of Bradley's dismissal to answer every question in O-Zone Late Night about Jalen Ramsey – his game Sunday was that memorable and his performance was that spectacular. He made at least six momentum-turning, highlight plays – and his best play may not even have been the 25-yard interception return that set up a first-half field goal. He also broke up a fade pass to wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins in the second quarter to cap a key goal-line stand, and he leveled Hopkins to break up a potential first-down converting pass. This was a battle all day between two big-time players and both players got their share of victories in one-on-one battles. But Ramsey is destined to be a big-time, All-Pro cornerback in the NFL – and Sunday was a vivid example of why.
John from St. Augustine, FL:
John, all you have to go on when you hire a coach with no experience is what he did as a coordinator and his ability to knock the interview out of the park. If a guy has been a head coach you have a better idea of what he will do. We went new guy last time, KC went fired guy … fired guy has been pretty good.
John: You're right. Andy Reid has been successful in Kansas City. And John Fox has struggled mightily with the Chicago Bears after coaching in Super Bowls in Carolina and Denver. If you hired the right coach and put him in the right situation, it usually will yield results whether or not the guy has experience. If you hire the wrong coach and put him in the wrong situation, it won't. I have nothing against hiring an experienced head coach with a record of NFL success. In fact, I'd prefer it. But let's not pretend it's a fail-safe formula. There's no such thing as a fail-safe formula for hiring a head coach. If one existed, every team would use it and every team would win Super Bowls.
Chris from Mandarin:
Where do we go from here? As you say, it's not always about coaching in the NFL … even though, it's always about coaching in the NFL.
John: Gus Bradley was just fired Sunday night, so the answer obviously is that the Jaguars don't yet know exactly where they will go from here. Caldwell will speak to the media Monday afternoon, and I don't imagine the criteria for the search for the next coach will be provided any particular detail. My personal belief is the specifics – defensive/offensive, players coach/disciplinarian, experienced/inexperienced – don't matter all that much. I don't even really care all that much if a guy has head coaching experience, though my guess is that will be a priority in this search. Find a head coach you believe in, and go from there. A wise man once said that there's no fail-safe formula because if there was everyone would use it. I wish I could remember who that guy was. I really thought he was cool.
Steve from Jacksonville:
Here's one last one for Gus.
John: Absolutely. One fer Gus.

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