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O-Zone: Pants on fire

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Bruce from Green Cove Springs, FL

Tom Coughlin's first stint with the Jaguars came with two hats: head coach and de facto general manager. As a head coach here and subsequently with the New York Giants, he was superb: 14thall-time in victories and two Super Bowl victories. As a general manager? There were quite a few draft and free-agent failures, and the Jaguars ended up so far over the cap that it forced a fire sale of quality players after the 2001 season. Now that we are once again facing a major cap issue, is Mr. Coughlin's experience going to help or hurt?

Coughlin, now the Jaguars' Executive Vice President of Football Operations, indeed was in charge of the Jaguars' personnel in the 1990s and early 2000s. There was no "de facto" about it. But this is a different time and a different circumstance. The Jaguars in Coughlin's first stint with the team mortgaged the future by overspending on too many free agents and restructuring too many contracts, thereby pushing salary-cap ramifications into the future to the point they had to release players with no way to replace them. It was cap mismanagement to an extraordinary degree. That is not currently the case. The Jaguars in the 2016 and 2017 offseasons indeed spent big in free agency, but they structured contracts in such a way that they could part ways with players at certain points of their contracts without major long-term cap ramifications. What will be portrayed by some in the coming weeks as a "salary-cap crisis" actually was something for which the team planned throughout the past several seasons. That doesn't guarantee that Coughlin and General Manager David Caldwell will make the correct decisions in the coming weeks, or that they will draft well. Only time will tell us those answers. But it does give the Jaguars a chance to remain more competitive in the coming seasons than was the case in the early 2000s.

Paul from Jacksonville

Sometimes, I send in questions or comments you don't use. It makes me feel like I didn't measure up.


Daniel from Jersey City, NJ

O-man, do you think the Rawls signing gives the Jaguars the extra leverage they need to allow Leonard Fournette to depart?

Signing running back Thomas Rawls this week gave the Jaguars a player who has a chance to be part of the running-back rotation next season. Whatever the Jaguars do with Fournette this offseason won't have much to do with Rawls.

Joe from Fleming Island, FL

John, I am not suggesting we do this, but was just wondering about the rule. Can you draft someone who is not eligible, but will be in the future? Is that draft selection valid if they decide to play football or is the selection only for the upcoming year?

An NFL team may not draft a player who is ineligible for the draft.

Darren from Jacksonville

It seems to me the front office has given in to pressure from the fans and media by making the changes it seems they're going to make. I might be the only one, but I'd like to see them keep the team together as much as possible.

First, we don't yet know what changes are coming. The Jaguars are still in the process of putting together a coaching staff, so it's safe to say even the decision-makers don't yet know the changes that will be made. When those changes come, they will be based on the beliefs and opinions of those decision-makers – not from pressure of fans and media. While fans and media often believe teams are influenced by their infinite wisdom, my experience is that influence is minimal at best.

Kathy from Jacksonville

John, is it wishful thinking to believe we could get Nick Foles or Joe Flacco?

No, but it's probably expensive thinking.

Ralph from Jacksonville

Regarding your comment Jalen Ramsey is not the problem with the Jaguars' culture, what do believe the source or problem is? How is it fixed?

The problem when a culture goes bad usually isn't one thing or one player. And while Fournette's on and off-field behavior obviously is part of it, he's not the sole issue. And most players in the Jaguars' locker room aren't necessarily bad guys. The feel you got from talking to players after the season was it was just a case of the players as a whole not buying in quite as much as necessary. And that's on the players. Coaches can talk, discipline, scream, etc. Eventually, it must come from players, and it must come from within. There's growing up to do.

Bryan from Tampa, FL

Just another email of gratitude for Calais. When the Jags elected not to re-sign Marcedes Lewis, I was very concerned for the loss in veteran leadership he provided. Thanks to Calais, that seems to have been a misguided concern.

Defensive end Calais Campbell is a rare leader. That doesn't mean the Jaguars couldn't use more veteran leadership.

Dave from NK, RI

Any chance the Jaguars keep Blake Bortles and still draft a quarterback? I know Blake might not be the future, but is he with a heathy line and his top wide receiver back a better option then say, Flacco? And also better for the cap then the dead money hit and a cap hit from a free agent quarterback?

We'll continue to get a version of this question until the Jaguars either trade or release Bortles, one of almost certainly will happen between now and the start of the league year – and free agency – March 13. I say "almost certainly" because you never say never, but in this case you may as well say never. There are logical, on-paper reasons to retain Bortles, but I can't remotely see the Jaguars doing that. Sometimes, it's time to move on. This is such a time.

Tom from Loughborough, England

Boy does Dwayne Haskins look good. Old-school, good pocket presence, good in the red zone. I'd love to see him in black, white and teal.

Hey … one fer Dwayne!

Sam from Orlando, FL

Jags kept Marrone because they knew looking for a new head coach with no quarterback, below-average cap room, Fournette's situation and no tight end while eight other teams were looking for a head coach probably wasn't a good idea.

The Jaguars kept Marrone because he's a good NFL head coach and because change for change's sake isn't a good idea. But hey, you just keep being you and believing what you want to believe. No one's stopping you.

Rob from Jacksonville

I was looking at the Tony Boselli photo gallery on the site and it had me thinking: Would Boselli in his prime be able to keep up with the edge rushers of today's NFL? (Von Miller, J.J. Watt, Campbell, etc.)? Just an interesting thought.

Watt and Campbell aren't really "edge rushers" in the true sense of the term, but whatever … Boselli would be very much be the elite player today as he was when he played. Absolutely and without question.

Sean from Jacksonville

I know the "time to move on" is in play with Bortles, but do you see them bringing back Nathaniel Hackett? There's still a lot of head-scratching going on when that subject is discussed.

No, the Jaguars will not bring back Nathaniel Hackett as offensive coordinator. Sometimes it's time to move on – especially when the sides already have … you know … moved on.

Renee from Jacksonville

I just watched Calais Campbell's phone call with Mrs. Cherry Starr notifying him he was the winner of the Bart Starr Award. As Jaguar fans we are so fortunate to have on our team and in our community such a wonderful man. He exemplifies what we all should be reaching for. The NFL players choose well. Congratulations, Mr. Campbell. I for one am soooooo looking forward to seeing you play with the Jags in 2019. Can you pass it along, John? GO JAGS,.


Otto from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

John, I have watched the NFL for many years. It seems to me that all positions are "skill positions." I believe an offensive lineman is as important as a wide receiver – though maybe a quarterback does count for more. With that, my gut tells me Brandon Linder is a better guard than center. I would hope that TC and Doug get a center in draft and put Linder back at guard. More things to do but this is one idea. Go Jags!

This isn't out of the question, but I expect Linder to remain at center. He's very good at the position and it's harder to find very good centers than very good guards. That doesn't mean that he might not be better at guard; it does mean that it's better for the Jaguars to have him at center.

Ed from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

I know I said I was signing off till April or May, but I lied.

I figured.

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