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O-Zone: Scrawl on the wall

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Bill from Jacksonville:
Recently you, Dave Caldwell and Gus Bradley said something to the effect of "statistics don't matter; it's about developing players," in regards to the hiring of Greg Olson as offensive coordinator. They don't matter? In the NFL this year eight of the top 10 teams in points per game scored made the playoffs, yet only two of the bottom 10 teams in the same category made the playoffs. How can you, Dave, and Gus look at these kinds of "statistics" and say they don't matter? Thanks! Go Jags!
John: Of course scoring points matters. That's not what I was saying when discussing the reasoning for hiring Olson, and I assume it's not what Caldwell and Bradley were saying – and I assume you probably know that. I also assume most people knew the conversation was focused on the offensive ranking and I also assume that most people get the notion that Caldwell and Bradley – and less importantly me – were making the point that any statistic must be taken in context. I have no idea if Olson will succeed in Jacksonville or not. For him to succeed, the Jaguars' offensive players have to improve and Blake Bortles has to prove himself to be a good NFL quarterback. I believe those things can happen, and I believe Olson is capable of helping that happen – and I don't think the Oakland Raiders' offensive ranking this past season proves otherwise.
Wallace from Jacksonville:
While the won-loss record of teams where Greg Olson was offensive coordinator is not great, I think the hire is a good one. Experience counts for something. Greg has a lot more experience than Jeff Fisch and should have a better grasp of how to call plays at the NFL level. He has seen more of "what works and does not work." The recent hires look solid, but the ultimate verdict will come during the next NFL season.
John: I agree with a lot of what you say, but I'm left to wonder just who in the heck is "Jeff Fisch."
Brett from Jacksonville:
You wrote that Gus Bradley called Marcedes Lewis to ask what he thought of Greg Olson. I was just wondering … what are players and coaches allowed to talk about in the offseason? I was under the impression they weren't allowed to speak at all.
John: They can speak. To try to have a rule that they couldn't would create the ridiculous scenario of players and coaches passing each other wordless in hallways and looking away from one another like schoolchildren hiding mutual crushes. The rule is essentially that they can't talk football in a way that could be construed as a "coaching situation," meaning a player can't go to his position coach or coordinator and ask what he should be doing on a specific play or in a specific situation. That perhaps seems a little silly, too, and I perhaps agree, but that's the rule.
Eric from Chicago, IL:
Mike McCarthy was the offensive coordinator for the 49ers the year before he became head coach for the Packers. That 49ers offense? Last in the NFL in points and total yards. I don't think Packers fans would change the hire now, would you?
John: I don't know about Packers fans, but I sure wouldn't.
Gary from Wesley Chapel, FL:
For those fans criticizing the hiring of Greg Olson because the Raiders had the 32nd-ranked offense last year, keep in mind he is not bringing all of those players with him! Who was his quarterback coach and do you think he will be bringing him?
John: The Raiders' quarterbacks coach this past season was John DeFilippo. He is now the offensive coordinator in Cleveland.
Joe from Jacksonville:
John: How does taking two pounds of air out of a football help one team and not the other? Don't they use the same ball for both teams?
John: No. Teams provide their own balls on offense.
Ross from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
Is it safe to say that Gus will be more involved with the offense this upcoming season than he ever has in his career?
John: I think it's safe to say Bradley will be spending a lot of time with Greg Olson, Doug Marrone and the offensive staff in the early part of the offseason. As far as his time next season, there shouldn't be a major change.
Eric from Sugar Notch:
There's a big question I don't see many asking. What's the status of Jerry Sullivan on this new offensive staff? I'd hate to lose him seeing how young and promising the Jags appear to be at the position.
John: I expect Sullivan to return next season.
Ed from Jacksonville:
I heard Bill Williamson, who covers the Raiders for ESPN, say that teams like the Raiders and Jaguars will always have a tough time attracting the top assistant coaches until they attain better results. Agree/Disagree?
John: In theory, perhaps … and that might be true in some cases. At the same time, I think Doug Marrone was pretty coveted by a lot of teams and I think he was a pretty good choice for offensive line. I also think Bradley wanted Greg Olson and that was the reason he got the job; not because Bradley was having trouble finding a guy he wanted. But does success make it easier to attract people to your franchise? Yeah, that's pretty evident.
Quinn from Tampa, FL:
Do the salaries of general managers, coaches, coordinators, etc., come out of cap space? It seems like if they didn't they would all be getting paid a lot more.
John: No, only players' salaries count against the cap. In terms of general managers, coaches and coordinators getting paid more … goodness gracious, how much more do you want these people to make?
Eric from 206:
Players play, coaches coach and fans kvetch about minutiae in the offseason. Thanks for humoring the process.
John: The first sentence of this email just won the week.
Billy from Orange Park and Section 214:
What are the chances that Greg Olson doubles as the quarterbacks coach, as well as being the offensive coordinator? It would save Mr. Khan some cash, as well.
John: That's almost certainly not going to happen – and obviously, that's not a place where saving money is going to be an issue one way or the other.
Zac from Orange Park, FL:
It's frustrating people are knocking the Olson hire. Oakland by far had the least-talented offense in the league. If Olson had miraculously made that a Top 20 offense, people would have been talking about him as a head coach. People wanted an experienced coach, and now that they have one, they still complain.
John: I guess I stopped being frustrated by things that don't surprise me a while back.
Ed from Ponte Vedra, FL:
Technical question: If the Patriots used less inflated balls, I'm assuming that when they punt to the other team, they have to use their ball giving the returner an advantage both distance and control. Right or wrong?
John: Wrong. The NFL uses K-balls – or kicking balls – on special teams plays. They are in the possession of the officials until just before the game and are handled during the game by a neutral party – not a ball boy for either team.
Jason from Da 'Hassee:
Is it fair to say the Doug Marrone hire was intended to take some of the load off of Bradley? I see the title of assistant head coach-offense as a way for Bradley to focus on the defense, and the team overall. It's like having head coach B that can coach the offense with minimal oversight. Sure Bradley will have the final decision regarding team matters, but Marrone's experience as a head coach gives Bradley the confidence to allow him to take more control of the offense than if he was just an offensive line coach.
John: What's fair to say is we're overthinking this title thing a little. Assistant coaches have "assistant head coach" in their titles all the time. It often means that the coach becomes the person who takes over as acting head coach if the head coach is unavailable. It also often means that the coach has the experience and reputation within the league to merit an added title. Marrone was a head coach in Buffalo and with Syracuse before joining the Jaguars, so he would merit a title. Remember, Olson had an assistant head coach title when he was here in 2012 and he essentially was a quarterbacks coach. That's not to diminish the role Olson had then or the role Marrone will have with the Jaguars, but to overanalyze and scrutinize the title perhaps means attaching meaning to it that isn't there.
Vince from Farmington, NM:
When does free agency start? I'm sure the "board" is being assembled with the new staff, but who is on your board?
John: Free agency begins March 10. I don't have a board. I scrawl things in blood on the wall behind my desk, but I don't do that until we get closer to free agency. A lot changes as free agency approaches, and blood can be messy.

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