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O-Zone: Sleeping in

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

John from Cape May Court House

In reference to our defensive tackle need, take a look at the draft history of first-round defensive tackles taken after Pick No. 20. It's a pretty uninspiring group to say the least. It would appear that the odds of picking even a decent defensive tackle are against us. I will pound this drum into oblivion: draft offense, buy defense.

Well said – and you're correct about how defensive tackles selected late in the first round of the NFL Draft often fare. Many talent evaluators resist taking certain positions – including defensive tackle and left tackle – late in the first round because the theory is the positions are so valuable that good players at the spots are often over-drafted. If that's the case, then it follows that elite defensive tackles usually will get selected in the Top 10 and good defensive tackles usually will get selected soon after that. The theory follows that if a defensive tackle is worth a first-round selection he will be gone far before the end of the first round – in which case, you may as well wait and try to find a developable defensive tackle later in the draft. This theory doesn't prove true every time – few theories do – but there's enough merit that it makes selecting a defensive tackle late in the first round tricky at best. The problem is compounded this season by the perception that this isn't a great defensive tackle draft – with no players at the position projected in the Top 10. Given that, it seems possible the Jaguars will pursue the position in free agency – perhaps by signing multiple players. It's an issue. How the Jaguars handle it is important.

Chris from Space City, TX

If you were Jaguars Owner Shad Khan, would you have fired grumpy grandpa Tom Coughlin as soon as it reached a level where it was clear either cornerback Jalen Ramsey or Coughlin needed to go? Hindsight, you were going to lose Coughlin anyway because of the horrible record, questionable draft picks and NFL rules violations. But would you have given the old man the pink slip if that meant saving the Jaguars relationship with their only true star and top player at his position? I don't mind defensive end Yannick Ngakoue walking, but you simply can't let players the level of Ramsey walk out of your building even if you get a couple first rounders.

No. I would not have fired former Jaguars Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin just to keep Ramsey – mainly because you don't want to get a reputation for firing executives just because players don't happen to like something about an executive. I'm not discounting the importance of maintaining relationships with star players, and clearly that's an area in which the Jaguars failed in recent seasons. But sometimes, it's tough to maintain a long-term relationship with a player. The Rams thus far have had a relationship with Ramsey for a season and a half; the Jaguars had one for a little more than three seasons. Maybe the Rams' relationship will prove longer-term. We'll see.

Pedal Bin from Farnborough, Hampshire, UK

Oh Mighty 'O' / King of all Funk, with the Jags picking at No. 1 this year how will the network fit in an advert break when we are on the clock? It's "a tradition like no other." Be a shame if it doesn't continue.

I don't expect it to continue. But it's worth watching to be certain.

Marcus from Jacksonville

John, do you think changing the rule for hiring coaches while their team is still playing might help with the disparity in minority hirings? I can't help but think that if Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy could ink a deal three weeks ago, he would be a head coach right now. He could still finish out the season but could come to an agreement with another team so that team doesn't have to wait until after the Super Bowl to finalize things. I'm not saying that fixes all the issues with hiring minorities, but it does take away one more hurdle for guys that happen to be coaching on successful teams. Once the dominoes start falling on the head-coaching hirings, teams seem more inclined to get someone locked up rather than wait and potentially get left at the altar.

I don't know that changing the rule would help significantly with minority hirings, but it would undoubtedly change the dynamic for a lot of assistant coaches. I expect it would accelerate the career path of many "hot" assistants. It's often the case that bright, promising assistants get hired a year later than otherwise might be the case because of this rule. Case in point: former Jaguars linebackers coach Robert Saleh, who was universally lauded as the San Francisco 49ers' defensive coordinator during that team's run to the Super Bowl following the 2019 season. It was clear during that postseason he eventually was going to be a head coach. Had the rules been in place that he could be interviewed/hired during that time, it stands to reason he would have gotten a chance. As it happened, he was hired as the New York Jets' head coach this offseason. Good for him? Yes. A year late? Probably.

Robert from Manassas, VA

You have repeatedly said that teams can only change uniforms every five seasons. I don't think that will apply to Washington.


Chris from Nashville, TN

Tampa Bay is a small-market team with minimal development around the stadium, but isn't it amazing what putting a winning team on the field can do for a franchise?

It is indeed amazing. First, I don't know how much we really know about how much winning has helped the Buccaneers; COVID-19 keeps us from really seeing any significant effects. But I do understand the point you're trying to make – even if there aren't any facts to support it. Regarding that conversation: I don't know the dynamics of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers enough to know how much winning helps their bottom line, or if simply winning is enough without doing more around the stadium. It's quite possible that is the case – and if so, good for the Buccaneers. I do know the dynamics of the Jaguars well enough to know that winning will help everything – as always is the case in the NFL. I also know those dynamics well enough to know that winning will not solve all local-revenue issues – and that TIAA Bank Field and the area around it still must improve with more revenue streams for the franchise to be stable long term. Winning would help that; winning in 2017 helped the revenue streams in 2018. But the Jaguars also learned from that experience that they needed to do more than just win to remain stable and competitive for the long term. If the Jaguars win moving forward, if Head Coach Urban Meyer and what's to come revitalizes the team beyond the most optimistic Jaguars fan's wildest dreams, downtown Jacksonville around TIAA Bank Field and TIAA Bank Field itself still will need to improve along with it for the franchise's long-term future. The reality isn't changing. The answer isn't changing.

Robert from Oneonta

John, please think about your statement about Lot J (in an email from Thomas from Blacksburg, VA) …

I did think about it. I did this before I wrote it. As I often do. I'm weird that way.

Pat from Duval

Don't you think the added foot traffic created by Lot J might bring in some more revenue for Greg's restaurant?

I laughed at this. Well done, Pat.

Shane from Jacksonville

I've seen some speculation that the Jags may switch to a 3-4 defense. Do you think there is any merit to that? Would a change to a 3-4 lessen the need to add lineman this offseason?

We'll find out soon enough what defensive scheme the Jaguars will use next season. There's nothing wrong with a 3-4 and playing Josh Allen and K'Lavon Chaisson as edge linebackers in the scheme could make some sense. But whatever the Jaguars' scheme, the Jaguars must add defensive linemen – and a lot more than one. They must get stouter, deeper and better up front however they choose to line up before the snap.

Dan from Jacksonville

Didn't you use to hang out at Aladdin's Castle in Gainesville circa '86? You were a Zaxxon guy.

Anything is possible. A lot is a blur.

Sean from Jacksonville

Did we get an offensive coordinator? Was I taking a nap? What's the latest on that front?

The Jaguars reportedly are hiring former Seattle Seahawks, Minnesota Vikings and Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell as offensive coordinator. They reportedly have hired former Jaguars defensive line coach and longtime NFL defensive line coach Joe Cullen as defensive coordinator. The hirings – like all other Jaguars assistant coach hirings in this cycle – aren't yet official or haven't been announced yet. I'll text you when that changes (I won't do this). Go back to bed.