JACKSONVILLE – Game-day, Christmas Eve O-Zone.
Let's get to it … Jeff from Rutland, MA:
If I were interim head coach, and a candidate to return in 2017, I'd want to test out all my offensive weapons in these next two games before I applied – so I'd know more about what I was getting into. But that's me.
John: In the case of Doug Marrone with the Jaguars – as is the case with most NFL interim head coaches – he had been on the coaching staff an extensive period of time before ascending to interim head coach. Marrone has coached the offensive line, so he has a pretty good idea the talent on the roster at that spot. He has a relatively good idea the talent at other positions, too. Could he play third-team quarterback Brandon Allen in the final two games? I suppose – and if he did, he automatically would become a phenomenally popular guy among a big portion of the fan base. But I don't see it happening because Marrone and Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell appear to believe Blake Bortles is still the team's best option to win. As far as other spots on either offense or defense, I can think of few spots outside perhaps Myles Jack at Otto linebacker where I think there are players potentially being under-used. Still, the conversation is in a very real sense moot. I wouldn't say there's no chance of Marrone being the head coach next season, but it's obviously pretty slim – and I don't think he's coaching the next two games with the idea of looking ahead to next season.
Pedal Bin from Farnborough, Hampshire:
Mighty 'O,' Happy Christmas from this side of The Pond. One 'fer Krimma?!
John: One fer Krimma.
Daniel from Urban:
Two things, John: 1. After consistently saying he wouldn't fire Gus Bradley during the season, what changed Shad Khan's mind? The Houston loss didn't seem worse than that Titans loss. Second, any chance we could see Marty Schottenheimer on the coaching candidate list? I get the playoff knock but the man always seems to build competitive teams.
John: The timing of Bradley's departure isn't really the mystery people seem to believe. Khan and General Manager David Caldwell met in Dallas at the NFL Owners Meetings last week and made the final determination that Bradley indeed would need to be dismissed. It had seemed obvious to everyone that dismissing Bradley was likely and even inevitable, but that was when the final decision was made. At that point, with both wanting to start the process of searching for a head coach, it was decided to make the move as soon as possible. Because it was already so late in the week, it was decided to wait until after the Houston game. The timing of the decision had nothing to do with the Texans loss – and the decision actually had been made to do it whether or not the Jaguars won or lost in Houston. That was really what went into the decision; it wasn't more complicated than that. Could it have been handled better? I suppose, but there aren't many really good ways to part ways with a head coach – particularly one everyone admired as much as Bradley. As far as Schottenheimer, I was a big fan of his when he coached and never thought he got the credit he deserved as a front-line, all-time head coach. But I don't see him becoming a head coach again. It would appear that time has passed.
Hippy Ryan from Fleming Island, FL:
I'm confident every player on this team felt responsible for the letdown that ended in Gus's release as they shook his hand on the plane last Sunday. Let's hope something positive will be gained as a team. Tighten up
Biff from Jacksonville:
Hey O, can you ask Bill from Danville to share that crystal ball he uses to verify that Jack wouldn't play better than the two veterans in front of him?
John: Bill may not have a crystal ball, but Paul Posluszny and Telvin Smith have played well enough this season the he probably doesn't need one. I'm all for seeing Myles Jack on the field more, but at the expense of Posluszny or Smith? Nah.
Matt from Easton, PA:
In his exit interview, Gus revealed something that makes it clear to me (and I imagine many others) why he wasn't successful as a head coach and excelled as a defensive coordinator. He explained that once a player is given to him, he will work as hard as he can to help that player be the best he can be until the player is taken away from him by someone else. With Seattle, he had a head coach to give and take players from him. No one was going to make those decisions for him with the Jaguars, and he admitted that he needs someone in that role or he will constantly stick with the guys he has (i.e. Bortles). Am I just rambling here or do you think there is any truth to this thought?
John: I would say there's probably some truth to it. Bradley certainly seemed to think so. There were many, many reasons the Jaguars struggled over the past four seasons, and I can't say this was near the top of the list. But is it a way Bradley could have done better? Sure.
Logan from Wichita, KS:
HAHAHA … I will believe your "guarantees" when I see it. Till then I highly doubt your "guarantees" because a 2-12 record, 44 yards of offense last week and a 36-22 beat down from the Titans last time that was more like 36-0 says you are delusional. Better put down the spiked egg nog for a bit there, O.
John: My guarantee that the Jaguars won't lose Sunday has nothing to do with the 2-12 record, the 44 yards offense last week (150 yards, actually) and/or the beat down in October. I won't be drinking any egg nog until Sunday because, either. I might drink it Saturday after the game, though.
Chuck from Jacksonville:
At this point, the comment "the coaches think" has no credibility. The current coaches will be gone, so I don't get why we should agree to the concept that Jack should not play more. Bad coaching decisions are the reason they are out. So the one regarding Jack, in theory, could be a wrong one.
John: No one's asking you to agree to anything. It's very much OK if you don't.
Kyle from Jacksonville:
I know quite a few people have brought up Myles Jack and the reasons they believe he should or should not be playing. I understand those points. However, it seems everybody is only looking at this in a very in-the-box fashion – i.e., "We have three linebacker spots, which one does he play?" They should be asking "Is Myles Jack one of our 11 best defensive players?" If the answer is yes, get him on the field, no excuses. I don't care if that means somebody making a move to safety, get him on the field. Last I checked our defense is ranked 24th against the run so any excuse involving Dan Skuta as a run defender is a hollow one. Also, is your house on fire, Clark? Merry Christmas, O!
John: It's very easy to say "move someone to safety," but the reality is you're not going to move Paul Posluszny to safety, so that leaves Smith or Jack. Smith has played linebacker since entering the NFL and has played it at a high level, so you don't want to move him. That leaves Jack, which would mean moving a linebacker to a new position in his first NFL season. That sounds easy and it might work in Madden. Perhaps it's not as easy in real life. As far as Skuta is concerned, I find the notion that the coaches feel they need to make an "excuse" to play him curious. Why would they force Skuta on the field over a highly-touted draft selection if they didn't think he was the best player to play? What possible incentive would they have to do that? Also, don't overemphasize rushing yards allowed per game as a way of measuring the Jaguars' run defense. A better gauge might be yards per run allowed. The Jaguars rank seventh in that area at 3.8 yards per attempt. And by the way, Kyle: Those little lights? They're not twinkling.
Gabe from Washington, DC:
"I will go a step further and guarantee they will not beat the Jaguars Sunday." Very sneaky, O. Everyone knows that it's always the Jaguars who beat the Jaguars.
John: My guarantee that the Jaguars will not lose Sunday has nothing to do with the Jaguars propensity for beating themselves on Sundays.
Brian from Round Rock, TX:
To the surprise of sports fans everywhere, the definition of insanity is not doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. In fact, practicing something is often the act of doing the same thing over and over again, expecting to improve at the task. Look it up! Am I right?
John: Yes, you are.