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O-Zone: Smackeroo

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Armand from Jacksonville

John, will you give us a rundown of the new coaching staff and what they will be doing?

I'll do this more completely when the 2024 Jaguars' coaching staff is finalized and announced. As of now, we know most of the defensive staff was dismissed after the 2023 season along with running backs coach Bernie Parmalee. Passing game coordinator also Nick Holz left to become the Tennessee Titans' offensive coordinator. Former Atlanta Falcons defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen has been hired in the same role with the Jaguars, and the following have been reported as defensive assistants: Former Falcons defensive assistant Dave Huxtable, former Louisiana State defensive coordinator Matt House (linebackers coach), former New Orleans Saints co-defensive coordinator/secondary coach Kris Richard, former Tennessee analyst Cory Robinson (cornerbacks) and former Auburn defensive line coach Jeremy Garrett (defensive line). Stay tuned.

*Thomas from Jacksonville      *

The Chiefs only have one Top 20 draft pick on their roster. Baltimore and Detroit both had seven and San Francisco has six. Chiefs play with a grudge. The Jags have four top 20 picks (quarterback Trevor Lawrence, outside linebacker Travon Walker, outside linebacker Josh Allen and outside linebacker K'Lavon Chaisson). We need more grudge attitude?

The Kansas City Chiefs may have just one top 20 draft selection on the roster, but they also have a next-level quarterback who is arguably or unarguably the NFL's best player – Patrick Mahomes. That's better in many ways than having a bunch of Top 20 selections. I haven't the faintest idea what "grudge" attitude means, but if having it would help the Jaguars … well, I suppose I'm all for it.

Gary from Centerville, OH

I see a lot of fans "fanning" over having to give up a second-round pick if we re-sign wide receiver Calvin Ridley and whether he is worth a second-rounder. But the real question should be is he worth moving up from a third-round pick to a second-round pick, since if we don't sign him we have to give up our third-round pick.

Good point.

Joe from Jacksonville

Superimposing over Mason from Jacksonville's question: Would John Oehser the owner of a 7-10 or 6-11 football team have hired Bill Belichick?

The answer would depend on many factors not included in a 16-word question, but I doubt I would hire former New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick as a head coach now. Not that he's not a great head coach. I would wonder if Belichick at this stage of his career would coach for the long-term.

Bradford from Orange Park, FL

Could expound on your take of "defenders seemed to jump out of gaps more often late in the season, particularly in a loss to the Tennessee Titans in the regular-season finale?" What would cause this type of shift in multiple run defenders' play suddenly other than a lapse in their respective efforts? Would it be fair to be concerned that a "lost locker room" might be underpinning that type of issue? What would be reasonable alternative assumption, that we assembled players on the defense that all share a collective issue that causes them to ultimately perform sabotaging maneuvers on the team for some unspecified reason(s)? I suppose the NFL being scripted could make sense, too ... Certainly would explain Lawrence's ghost-strip fumble. Talk me down, O.

You lost me a bit discussing scripting and quarterback Trevor Lawrence. As for why defenders "jump out of gaps," the reason for such things usually isn't untoward and it usually doesn't mean coaches have lost locker rooms. And it's usually not a case of everyone on defense doing it. It can be a case of a defender or two jumping out of a gap and making a mistake on a play or two or a series or two. It's more often than not a case of defenders trying too hard rather than not hard enough, a player or two trying to make a big play rather than not playing within the scheme of the defense. That can be the difference between stopping a player such as Titans running back Derrick Henry for a 4-yard gain and him standing in the end zone with a 30-yard touchdown. The NFL is about big plays at big moments. Small things can be everything.

David from Oviedo, FL

O – I am a big fan of the Detroit Lions' running back tandem: Jahmyr Gibbs to run around you and David Montgomery to run you over. When Travis Etienne Jr. was drafted, there was some concern about whether he could be an every-down back. I love Etienne as a running back, but I think running him as a full-time back is diminishing his effectiveness. We should treat him like a star pass-rusher in that we use him strategically. Last year, our No. 2 running back barely saw the field and his primary role was to give Etienne a breather. This may mean you spend more than you want on a second running back, like the $6 million a year Detroit gave to Montgomery, but it's to create that two-headed monster. Thoughts?

I think Jaguars Head Coach Doug Pederson historically likes more of a backfield-by-committee approach. I think he still likes that approach and ideally will use it with the Jaguars. I think the Jaguars used their running backs as they did this past season because the line for the most part blocked ineffectively. I don't know that you need a dramatic overhaul in the backfield as much as the interior line playing better to give the members of the backfield better opportunity.

Steve from Nashville, TN

I understand this team being up against the cap during the "franchise" quarterback's rookie contract window. That window will be closing this year or next meaning won't we have even more cap issues once Lawrence signs the big deal? I know a few teams like the Chiefs and the Patriots in the last decade their windows were always open but that is an exception to the rule.

Teams' "windows" being open while they have franchise quarterbacks on the roster isn't an exception to the rule. That is the rule.

Cliff from Everywhere with helicopter

John, were many fans ready to put a statue of GM Baalke outside EverBank Stadium about halfway through this past season or have I been taking crazy pills?

I don't recall too many fans wanting to commission statues, but were there a lot of fans praising General Manager Trent Baalke when the Jaguars were 8-3 this past season? Of course. Was he a better general manager in November and early December than now? Of course not. Fans praise general managers and coaches when they win. They criticize them when they lose. What else would they do. Fans fan. It's what they do.

Jeremy from Gilbert, AZ

Baalke is not a good GM. The Jags just look stupid at this point with no discussions with Allen or Ridley. We are about 350 days away from announcing yet another bad GM for this pathetic franchise.


Kathy from Jacksonville

Joe Montana didn't have a strong arm. He understood his weaknesses and limitations. I think it is along the lines of knowing when to throw the football away. He also said that he did not "extend plays." I wonder if that is where "the dumb mistakes" come in – also, trying too hard to extend plays? And diving head first after running the ball., instead of sliding feet first? I think that's where "knowing your limits" comes in. He has to be better at protecting himself. That may also make him better at protecting the football.

There's a lot in here, but there's a lot to what you say. Lawrence has shown remarkable talent and remarkable moments in three seasons as the Jaguars' starting quarterback. The team has had more success in the last two seasons than in any two consecutive seasons in nearly two decades. It's hard to see them having had that success without Lawrence. It's just as true that Lawrence must improve to reach a higher level personally – and to take the Jaguars to a higher level. To do so, he must reduce avoidable mistakes, make better overall decisions and stay healthier. Those seem from this view indeed seem related on some level. A lot of those things have to do with continuing to gain experience and develop as a quarterback. Welcome to the No. 1 storyline of the Jaguars' 2024 season.

John from Cape Canaveral

People get upset about the silliest things. We were 9-8 two years in a row. Relax. Life will smack you in the face. I was driving home from Hilton Head to Cape Canaveral Wednesday evening. I stopped in at Strings to get some Bullet Bobs to take home. Here is where life smacks you. They were OUT!!! Yes, out of Bullet Bob. I just about cried all the way home.

I used to kid myself that I had some sway there. I'll speak to someone.