JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Michael from Fruit Cove, FL
All offseason we heard that we should give General Manager Dave Caldwell and Head Coach Doug Marrone a chance without former Jaguars Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin. We heard things like "the communication is much better," "their vision for the team is aligned" and "everyone is on the same page." All offseason, it was made clear that Doug wasn't the general manager, but that he was heavily involved in choosing the players and that Dave was finding players that Doug liked. Through training camp Doug constantly told everyone who would listen that this team would be competitive. I can agree with you that he has done a good or even great job coaching this team once the season started. But I just can't get past the idea that he thought this roster ever had a chance to be competitive. How do you think that applies to the decision of whether he stays with the team next season?
Marrone throughout this past offseason indeed told anyone who would listen he liked the team and its makeup. He did – and does. A lot of the hope for competitiveness was based on second-year quarterback Gardner Minshew II taking a step forward, and a young defense playing aggressively and making plays to complement that improving offense. The quarterback and the offense didn't improve, and the young defense didn't have enough experienced playmakers. Either way, I don't recall Marrone saying all that much about how competitive it would actually be. I think he hoped it would be competitive and that it would be better than it fared. I don't know that he realistically thought this was going to be a playoff team. How much will that play into a decision on his future? Very little. If any.
John from Jacksonville
KOAGF - When a team clinches a prime playoff seeding, the coach will often sit many of the starters to prevent injury and to give the team the best opportunity in the playoffs. This takes away a competitive game or two from the fans in exchange of hoping to win one or more playoff games. When a team is eliminated from the playoffs, but clinches the No. 1 draft pick, it seems a similar decision should be made – especially due to the fact that the No. 1 draft pick is guaranteed and could provide long-term benefit to the franchise. It seems hypocritical to criticize a coach if he chose not to play his starters for guarantee of a first pick in the draft but to praise a coach as smart to not play his starters for the purpose of getting to the first playoff game healthy. I know it sounds strange to say it out loud, but it has merit. Winning either remaining game only gives a brief and quickly forgotten yippee.
Marrone has said the goal for the Jaguars Sunday against the Chicago Bears is to win – despite the Jaguars being in position to secure the No. 1 overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft with losses in the last two games. I don't know that he would be criticized all that much if the Jaguars lose or make moves to enhance their chances to lose. That's not the issue. The issue is Marrone and the players don't want to lose. They want to win.
Daniel from Jersey City, NJ
O-Man, losing the next two games gives us the best chance to win for the foreseeable future beyond those two games. So technically, losing is the new winning!
Andy Boy from Charlottetown, Canada
I know that coaches always have a game plan that is designed based on what they see as their best courses of action to win. However, when you lose this much, what are the merits of "airing it out" as much as possible? Is that just not possible with the Jags? Would that not put the defense on their heels a bit? I know I am wrong, but I just want to see something exciting …
Airing it out is "awesome" if your quarterback can make high-velocity throws downfield. That can be exciting stuff. If he's not capable of that, and if he lacks pocket awareness, it's not as exciting.
KC from South Florida
Seriously, what's the deal with the Jags not getting any production out of their tight ends? It seems like it has been a decade since a tight end on the team has had a productive season. Is it a case of just not having talent at the position? Or has the position just not been utilized properly?
The former has more to do with this than the latter. Not having great quarterback play in a long time hasn't helped, either.
Rvjag (former ticket holder) from North Augusta, SC
I live in Clemson territory. Trevor Lawrence is King around here. In my opinion he would be the best thing to get the Jaguars headed in the right direction. It wouldn't start out gangbusters until more playmakers are obtained and that offensive line improves.
The offensive line isn't a major issue – at least not as much as other areas. I don't expect major change there in the offseason. Yes, the Jaguars absolutely could use a playmaking tight end and at least one more receiver.
Dan from Somewhere in the Back
John, we have heard consistently from you and from the team that they are going to do everything they can to win. I get it. It's the right thing to say. But it's asinine and it's the wrong thing to do. Jaguars linebacker Myles Jack says the NFL doesn't pay losers? Well, he and the other players on the team are getting a paycheck and all they have done is lose. Marrone owes it to his players to support them? Then he should know that the No. 1 overall pick puts these players in the best possible situation to be successful players going forward. In 1998, would the Colts have traded one more win if it cost them Peyton Manning? Would they have traded one more win in 2012 if it cost them Andrew Luck? With your expertise and insider knowledge, give the fan base one good reason the Jaguars should win one more game this year. Just one. I'm willing to bet you can't.
I've never said the fan base should want the Jaguars to win Sunday. What I've said is players and coaches don't care about draft positioning. This is frustrating for people who can't understand that different people are motivated by different things.
Daniel from Jersey City, NJ
O-man, I don't think even a great quarterback could make this a winning team. Other than quarterback, what do you think is our next most needed upgrade?
A great quarterback won't cure all that ails the Jaguars, but make no mistake: high-level quarterback play absolutely would help the offense in nearly every way imaginable – including improving what is widely perceived as a struggling offensive line. What do the Jaguars need to upgrade most? Defensive tackle, tight end and secondary. I don't know that there will be major changes on the offensive line. Add a pass rusher to go with Josh Allen and K'Lavon Chaisson. That will get you started.
Douglas from Toronto, Ontario
Is the conditional pick in the Yannick Ngakoue trade officially now a fifth-round 2022 selection or can it still move up to fourth round if Ngakoue gets named to the Pro Bowl as an alternate if alternates are being named this season?
The Pro Bowl won't be played following this season because of COVID-19. There will therefore be no alternates. And because Ngakoue was not voted to the Pro Bowl this season, the conditional 2022 selection the Minnesota Vikings sent the Jaguars as part of a trade for Ngakoue will be a fifth-round selection and not a fourth-round selection. Even if there had been alternates, Ngakoue would have had to be voted to the game for the Jaguars to have received the earlier selection; it would not have come into play had he been named as an alternate.
Steve from Nashville, TN
John, can you provide the formula for how strength of schedule is determined?
In the NFL, it's the combined record of all of a team's opponents for that season. It's currently important to the Jaguars because it's used to break ties in draft order. The Jaguars currently have a worse strength of schedule than the New York Jets. If it remains that way, and if the Jets and Jaguars remain tied for the NFL's worst record, the Jaguars will select No. 1 overall in April.
Mike from BillMurrayHill
Mr. O, This very young team. We have the opportunity to be led by a generational talent at quarterback next year. Do they risk life and limb to win out or do they just go out and have fun letting the chips fall where they may?
The Jaguars players and coaches will do everything they can to win, just like they have done in every game this season.