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O-Zone: Stay tuned

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Gary from Suffolk, VA

O, this is my opinion only. I look at the teams with the younger head coaches in the league. I want us to trend in that direction as well. Players will embrace someone who can relate to them from a player standpoint and also from an off-the-field standpoint. This generational gap between players and coaches is a factor. For coaches who can adapt their style, great for them. But those who can't will never build the important rapport with the players I feel is needed. Do you feel like this is important for coaches and players to relate on off and on field issues?

Younger head coaches aren't necessarily better than older head coaches – though that's certainly the trend in the NFL in recent years. It's important for players to respect and believe in their head coach. This can happen with many different styles and levels of experience. Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots, Andy Reid of the Kansas City Chiefs, Bruce Arians of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Pete Carroll of the Seattle Seahawks are four of the NFL's best head coaches. They are also four of the NFL's older head coaches. If a coach is the type of man who can reach players and inspire confidence/belief, then he can succeed. Younger coaches such as Sean McVay of the Los Angeles Rams and others clearly have done it. But so have the older coaches I mentioned. Generation and age gaps can be bridged. It's the person that matters, not the person's age.

Dan from Varna, Bulgaria

Hi, Zone. Do you believe that the Green Bay Packers, Buccaneers, Rams or the New Orleans Saints will be able to keep their teams together for next season and be competitive given the cap situation they are in?

I don't cover the Saints/Rams/Buccaneers/Packers, so I haven't done a deep dive into their salary-cap situations. Because deep dives are essential to understanding the NFL, I therefore don't know the details of their situations well enough to know if the franchises will be able to keep their teams together enough to contend next season. Teams can typically figure out a way to keep key players together for at least a season or two by restructuring contracts and pushing cap ramifications into the future. Teams often do this with the idea of extending "windows of opportunity," which are often defined by having a franchise quarterback. So, I would guess the Buccaneers will keep something of a core together if quarterback Tom Brady returns. I would guess the same is true of the Packers if quarterback Aaron Rodgers returns. Remember, too: "Keeping their teams together" means different things for different franchises. All teams change in some capacity from year to year. How "together" the four franchises remain probably depends on those teams' perception of how close they are to Super Bowl contention, which often depends on the franchise's quarterback situation.

Robert from anywhere but here

If Byron Leftwich is selected as head coach, do you see Vic Fangio as a good defensive coordinator option?

I covered former Denver Broncos Head Coach Vic Fangio for one season, when he was the defensive coordinator of the Indianapolis Colts in 2001. I thought Fangio was a really good football mind and a really good coach. He long has been one of the league's better coordinators, and I expect that would be the case in your scenario.

Rob from Ponte Vedra

Rumor has it that Byron has told the Jaguars he will not work with General Manager Trent Baalke and wants a former player and Vice President of Scouting Adrian Wilson in Arizona to be the general manager. Have you heard this and is there any truth to this? Also is Jaguars Owner Shad Kahn aware of the outrage it would create if it were known that he chose Baalke over Byron Leftwich?

I have heard that rumor. I do not know if there is truth to it. I don't speak to Khan during hiring searches. I expect he is aware of the feeling of some fans regarding Baalke. I also expect that Khan is focused on trying to make the right decision here, knowing that if that decision leads to winning much of the "outrage" will wane quickly.

Brad from The Avenues

Hey, John. If it's sudden death and a postseason game can't end in a tie, why bother running the clock at all?

This is done to ensure there is a break at the end of each "period" of overtime, and to ensure teams switch ends of the field – etc., etc. – at the end of each "period." But you're right, the sudden-death, no-tie nature that NFL overtime eventually assumes does make the clock less important than otherwise would be the case.

Mike from Mandarin, FL

John, this is absurd. I'm tired of this franchise being nationally mocked on a consistent basis. I'm over it. Shad Khan might be a good businessman, but has no right to own an NFL franchise. A lot of family and friends who are Jags fans can't believe the state of disarray this franchise is consistently in. I'm disgusted with the way this franchise continues to do business as we continually look inept.

I understand fans' frustration, and I absolutely understand that there are many fans and observers criticizing the franchise nationally and locally. The nature of this head-coaching search has been unusual, and the results in recent seasons have been disappointing. It remains the responsibility of ownership to get this right. That's the nature of ownership. But Khan absolutely has the right to own an NFL franchise. That "right" comes when the check is signed and doesn't go away.

Scott from Jacksonville

If Mr. Khan was truly focused on getting this right, then there is no way Baalke is still in the building. It seems Shad's ego is getting in the way.

I have received many emails along these lines, and just as many with wildly varying opinions on everything involved with the Jaguars' head-coaching search. While I understand fan frustration, and while I understand the tendency to uber-analyze every detail and every report, I never have sensed that Khan operates during these times based on ego. He's trying to get it right. That's his focus. That's not saying the decisions always have turned out right, but that's the objective.

Andrew from Mattoon, IL

Can I just say that Byron is not as young as we think he is. The man is 42 years old. There were 10 coaches in the league in 2021 that were his age or younger. When I was his age, I had a pretty advanced job for my industry. Folks need to find another reason. I for one say hire the man.


Chance from Windsor

Plain and simple, why hasn't Shad said anything? Our HC opening was first, now 4 teams have hired their guy. This just screams dysfunctional.

Owners rarely – if ever – speak publicly during a head-coaching search. Three of the nine head-coaching positions have been filled: Nate Hackett to the Denver Broncos, Matt Eberflus to the Chicago Bears and Brian Daboll to the New York Giants.

Al from Dowling Park FL

I agree on taking time to get the HC right, but aren't we getting behind in DC's, OC's and other staff? Looks like new regime will start in a handicapped position.

Many people look at it this way. The reality is there are good coaches availability at every level in every hiring cycle. The first coaches aren't necessarily the best coaches. That doesn't mean waiting guarantees you the best coaches, either. You have to hire well. Some coaches and owners do this. And some don't. But when you start doesn't always dictate how you finish.

_Dwayne from Jacksonville          _

I think a player that is traded or allowed to enter free agency feels dissed, and often responds with a greater work ethic and more self-discipline. Also, their new team hires them based on tape of their play in NFL games (you draft based on college tapes.) The new teams sees their strenghths and weaknesses and will outbid for a player that fits their system. So, when a former Jag goes to the Pro Bowl, it doesn't mean they would have had the same production here. (And some of the Jaguars' problem is regime changes mean we have good talent that don't fit the current system.)

I suppose free agency sometimes plays out your way. I've seen a few agents perhaps not respond to life-changing money with quite the work ethic and self-discipline you suggest. And I've absolutely seen as many cases of a free agent not fitting the new system as fitting perfectly. Free agency is NFL reality. And the Jaguars must partake in it to get their talent level back to where they can be competitive. But it's more often a rocky road than a smooth one.

Jeff from NYC

A lot of conflicting information- who is going to be Jags next coach and when will we know?

I'm not exaggerating when I say your guess is as good as mine.