JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Ken from Jacksonville:
I'm glad Gus Bradley is going to be back for another year. Do you think the Jags have to make the playoffs for him to see Year Five?
John: This is the crucial, unanswered question from Jaguars Owner Shad Khan's announcement Tuesday that Gus Bradley will return as head coach in 2016. Bradley is entering the final year of his contract, and because he is 12-35 as head coach, there obviously is nothing close to a guarantee for a fifth season. What will it take for a fifth year? Obviously, only Khan knows that. I have long said I believed Khan would retain this regime – meaning Bradley and General Manager David Caldwell – as long as there was improvement. There now can be no more improvement without winning. The guess here is it takes at least a .500 record and probably better for Bradley to stay. Is it playoffs or bust? If there is clear progress and reason to believe the progress will continue, I doubt it; but the progress next season needs to look like a team headed for really good things … as in, "postseason things."
Pookie from Panda City:
Here's an idea. Instead of making Herbert from Midstate Office Supply Accountz Receevablez look like an idiot by posting "funny" responses to him, why not stop posting his stupid questions altogether?
Steve from Atlanta, GA:
Hi, O. I've been as critical of Bradley as anyone, but I'm oddly OK with keeping him another year. What worries me is the limbo it seems to put the organization in. If the team goes 7-9 but wins a horrible division, does he get an extension? If they go 9-7, but miss a wild card, is that enough? What if Blake goes down and Chad limps to a 6-10? It just feels that this "decision" to keep Bradley in 2016 really isn't a decision at all. It is just a time out that could turn out to be a real setback. Help us understand.
John: Take a breath … good … good. You're seeing it as a timeout. Khan and the Jaguars see it a bit differently. Remember, the belief in the organization is that a roster is being built for long-term success, and that the plan in place will lead to that. If there is improvement next season and the plan appears to be moving forward – and yes, that means winning – then all of this takes care of itself. If not, then there probably will be changes. Either way, it's clear the talent on this roster and the foundation is getting stronger, which bodes for a better future than past.
Brian from Charlottesville, VA:
My biggest fear is Caldwell will look at the roster and say "if only Fowler and Marks..." similar to the answers you've posted about the pass rush. We need a minimum of two more players who can rush the passer. I'm not sure how self-scouting led them to believe an aging Chris Clemons, a defensive end that hasn't improved in three years in Andre Branch and a rookie were enough at the LEO position. I'm asking if you think Caldwell realizes our defensive line is Fowler and two more players away from being even average at disrupting the passer?
John: Yes, Caldwell knows more help is needed, but let's not discount the loss of Marks and Fowler, either. Marks had 8.5 sacks last season; if Fowler would have registered, say, five, then that's 13.5 sacks the Jaguars were missing – not to mention the disruption both players might have helped cause. There's no question the Jaguars will continue to address pass rush because ideally the pass rush should come in waves from more than one spot, but getting those two players on the field absolutely should help.
Beau from Jacksonville:
Mr. O., do you see Jonas Gray getting more carries at Houston? He had some nice runs last week. Should they give him a chance to see what they have with him?
John: Yes and yes.
Kyle from Palm Harbor, FL:
John, all season long the fans have been told this is a run-first offense. The problem is, this team doesn't run the ball well. How many rushing touchdowns this season, two or three not counting Bortles scrambling? It's just like two years ago when this team said it was going with a fast-paced, no huddle offense. How did that work out? They would go three-and-out in 10 seconds. Why do this team and these coaches keep trying to be something they're not? I think this team needs to play with the pieces they have, which as of today is a quarterback, three capable receivers and a legitimate threat at tight end. By Week 6 they should've realized that running the ball wasn't their ticket out of the cellar. What's your opinion?
John: My opinion is that I honestly have to wonder if you've watched the Jaguars this season. While they clearly wanted to be a run-first team entering the season, the Jaguars have passed significantly more than they have run this season – 682 pass plays to 332 run plays by my count. An argument could be made very easily that they should have run the ball better, but to think that this team has been stubborn trying to run the ball … it's hard to have watched the team and believe that.
Lawrence from Omaha, NE:
I think people assume it was a three-year plan because that's how long it typically takes to do a typical rebuild. But the Jaguars didn't go for a typical rebuild; they completely gutted the roster and waited two full years before even attempting to touch higher end free agency to fill gaps. They made some pretty solid low-cost signings that helped bridge the gap some (Marks) but still, they had a very clear plan to go through the draft and build up a very young team with a goal of long-term contention rather than just contention as soon as possible. Gus and Dave deserve one more year; it's all right where it's supposed to be.
David from Neptune Beach, FL:
By definition, a team has to "overspend" in free agency. As long as you vet guys like Haynesworth out, now is the time for the Jags to overspend a bit relatively and get their playmakers. Who cares if they have to pay more than other teams as long as they don't blow up the cap down the road? We've been under the cap for so long, go get your young stud proven playmakers now. What do you think?
John: I think free-agency is rarely the overall quick fix people expect because teams re-sign their best players. There are exceptions, but they are relatively rare. But yeah, if there's a playmaker who will make a difference – by all means, spend away. Now is that time.
Mike from Jacksonville:
It seems in all honesty we are exactly where we are supposed to be. One, second-year starters with a new offense coordinator have been breaking records. Two, defense has been struggling without two huge presences in the pass rush; therefore secondary looks worse than it is (they simply can't cover forever). Three, a rookie kicker might have cost us the playoffs in a number of games we only lost by a field goal or accumulated missed extra points. With those things in mind, we are not far off the track and can easily keep moving in the right direction. We weren't Super Bowl-bound this year, but we're close to the point that one more good draft class or free agent signed could be the catalyst.
John: I'm never one to say a team is "one (insert need here)" is a cure-all in the NFL. Too much goes into any NFL season, but your points are good ones. The Jaguars indeed showed improvement this season, and the feeling around the team is that the needs are far fewer/more identifiable than they have been in recent seasons. A piece here or there – along with continued improvement – could make a difference.
John from Jacksonville to Atlanta:
I'm glad Dave and Co. decided to build an offense first. Those guys were so fun to watch this year. It definitely made some of the losses hurt less. Now, we look to the defense, which already has serviceable-to-Pro Bowl level talent in Skuta, Poz, Odrick, Smith, Colvin and House. Did I miss anyone? If you were Dave/Gus would you keep Sergio or Cyprien?
John: I believe the Jaguars will try to upgrade the free-safety position, but yes, I would keep Johnathan Cyprien. If the Jaguars get better free safety play, the belief is they can have Cyprien be more of an in-the-box safety – and that he is fine for that role in this defense.
Larry from Middleburg, FL:
Why have the Jaguars not fixed the problem of allowing more points than they score. New year, same problem. I get frustrated when the solution is so simple. Its all about who wants it more. somebody better pay or I'm taking my money and going home (or to Gainesville where they know how to win). Jim McElwain turned the gators around in one year. Take notes Gus! P.S. We need leaders like Tim Tebow who will put a boot (or cleat) in their rear ends. Who was that Jonas Gray dude? Pumped Mr. Bradley is staying. I do not want to see him hoisting Lombardi's somewhere else like Mr. Coughlin.
O-Zone: Score more
JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Ken from Jacksonville: