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O-Zone: Star quality

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Sean from Jacksonville

The team better get moving to hire a GM and head coach since other teams are getting it done. All the good ones will be gone if they don't. Is this a "stay tuned" moment?

The Jaguars have interviewed multiple candidates for their vacant general-manager and head-coach positions. We'll go head coach first. They reportedly interviewed Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy and Atlanta Falcons Interim Head Coach Raheem Morris for the position last week, and reportedly interviewed former Florida/Ohio State Head Coach Urban Meyer Friday. They reportedly interviewed San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh Saturday and Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith Sunday. They reportedly have interviewed multiple general-manager candidates. The Houston Texans' hiring of Nick Caserio as general manager is the only general manager hire yet to take place in this hiring cycle and no head coaches have yet been hired this offseason. How, exactly, are the Jaguars "not moving?"

Dan from Somewhere in the Back

Zone Thee Stallion: Jaguars Owner Shad Khan has understandably chosen to recast the football operations department. Though there is no such thing as a sure bet when hiring a coach, we've seen the transformative effect an established and respected coach like Ron Rivera of the Washington Football Team can have on a franchise's culture. Is there any reason to believe a coach hired from the college ranks can't have that same level of positive impact? Is it just as difficult for a coach to make the jump from college to pro as it is for a player?

A college coach can have a major impact. A coach's background has little bearing on his impact compared to his ability as a leader, communicator and tone-setter. And yes … there are difficulties from jumping to the NFL from college as a head coach. You no longer have nearly as much control over your personnel as you do in college because you aren't recruiting them and you're dealing with grown men between 22 and 35 years old compared to young men between 18 and 22. That's a mammoth difference. Meyer would have to adjust to the professional game. But you don't have the success he had at multiple stops without being able to adjust. There's little reason to believe he wouldn't.

Dave from Dallas TX

Hey Mr. O: To be fair, Jerell called the 1-15 before the season and we all thought it was just Jerell being Jerell. What foresight, although he then changed it to 0-16 to cover all possibilities apparent to him. Seems like y'all going to be busier than usual this offseason. Looking forward to that.

Well, goodie for Jerell.

Gabe from Chapel Hill, NC

I am a Florida fan, but I don't hold any extreme hatred or love for Urban Meyer. I am only concerned for the health issues/possibility of him leaving early. What I'm wondering is this: are coaches contracts pretty much always straightforward in terms of X dollars each year for however many years? Is it at all common for coaches to have a decently incentive-filled contract? If Urban wants $12 million per year, would it be anywhere close to realistic to have him making $8 million in year 1, $10 million in year 2, and then $12, $14, and $16 million in subsequent years? Or something that protects the team from him leaving early in return for giving him upside for staying?

Coaches' contracts are structured however the sides agree to structure them. But remember: Coaches or players who are in high demand typically don't sign incentive-laden contracts – and Meyer always is in high demand.

Hugo from Albuquerque, NM

If losing caused Urban Meyer undue stress that caused him to retire and he only lost nine games in his tenure at Ohio State University, I worry his health won't hold up past the first season.

That will be a topic.

Darren from Las Vegas, NV

Are you like buddy-buddy with Wash? Is that why you keep saying he did a good job? Is that why you won't admit publicly how terrible he's been? He's probably a nice dude, but let's cut the crap and call it straight, he was a terrible defensive coordinator. Admit it.

It's probably relatively close to time to end the Todd Wash discussion for a while. Wash, like all assistants from last season, remains under contract – but it's unlikely either he or offensive coordinator Jay Gruden will be retained. That's not because either are bad coaches, but because new head coaches typically want their own coordinators. The reason I don't "admit publicly" how terrible Wash has been is easy. He wasn't terrible. If I saw any evidence that the Jaguars' defense would have been better this past season – or at any point in Wash's tenure – with a difference coordinator, I would have no problem "admitting it." The Jaguars' defense was outmanned this season. That only got worse as the season continued. But it's always coaching in the NFL. Always.

Doug from Jax Beach

My wife and I were Jag season ticket holders from Day 1 until two years ago. We left because the Jags stunk and because we didn't like many of the decisions the Jag brass was making such as drafting running back Leonard Fournette and re-signing quarterback Blake Bortles. Also, the Jags raised our ticket prices 500% (that is not a misprint) after making the playoffs. So, we let our feet do the talking. I have to admit that I have been considering getting tickets again due to Trevor Lawrence and other very good young players the Jags have and will draft. However, if Urban Meyer is the new head coach, that will not happen. The man has shown his disregard for ethics and has bailed on two programs when he could see the teams weren't going to be loaded. I don't get the feeling I'm alone in not getting season tickets if Meyer is coach. I'll root for the Jags from home, but they will not get any of my money. Again, sometimes you have to let your feet do the talking.

If the Meyer hire happens, it won't be without controversy.

Al from Orange Park, FL

I keep reading that Urban Meyer is "linked" to the Jags head coaching job. Is he even being mentioned as a candidate for any other NFL job?

Yes. Meyer also has been mentioned as a possibility to become the head coach of the Los Angeles Chargers.

Justin from Jacksonville

Hey, John. Do you think part of Shad Kahn's interview process with each candidate includes asking which player they would pick at the No. 1 spot? Seeing as how he now has final say on the roster, maybe a crucial part of the interview, is making sure that nobody will get cute and draft someone other than Trevor Lawrence?

Khan undoubtedly will discuss the No. 1 overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft with all head-coaching candidates. I don't expect he would mandate to all candidates that Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence would have to be the selection. As an owner, you want your general manager/head coach to conduct due diligence and make sure beyond a shadow of a doubt that Lawrence should be the No. 1 selection. That said, if you're the general manager/head coach you probably must have a really good reason if you tell the owner you don't want to select Lawrence No. 1 overall.


Do you have any idea of Shads timing for hiring a new coach and GM?


Nick from Virginia Beach, VA

I'll be honest, Urban Meyer is not my choice. He has won, but when it got tough he quit. How can he be a leader if he can't handle failure?

This is a bit extreme. Meyer has won big at every stop. He had an unbeaten season with Utah, won two national championships at Florida and another at Ohio State. The record doesn't really support the idea that he routinely quit when it got tough as much as he left amid health concerns. But it's understandable that Meyer's not everyone's first choice. It's a complicated hire if it happens.

Clayton from Gambier, OH

I can't find the exact quote, but I found it interesting that owner Shad Khan wants a head coach and general manager that know each other and are comfortable working together. In that case, would Urban Meyer actually fit in? Obviously Meyer knows many in the football world, but he hasn't been around the NFL, only college.

Khan said he wants the general manager and the head coach to know who the other will be as the hire is made. I got no impression that he meant they had to previously know one another – only that the two would be comfortable working together.

Bill from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

Not including Joan Allen in your list of 2021 defensive team starters? Oversight or something else?

Joan Allen was great in Nixon. I don't expect her to start for the Jaguars next season.