O-Zone: Staying or going?

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Bill from Jacksonville Beach:
"While Marrone served under former Head Coach Gus Bradley for 30 games, it's reasonable to assume his approach differs greatly..." So, Bradley hired someone as the assistant head coach whose approach differed greatly from his? That doesn't sound right, John. Thanks! Go Jags!
John: I guess I'm not sure what doesn't sound right about Doug Marrone as assistant head coach possibly having a different approach or philosophy than the head coach for whom he works – in this case, Bradley. Is it so unusual for people who work together to have different ideas about how to approach something? I don't agree with everything my boss says, and I don't know that he wants me to do so. We can talk something through and figure out a direction – as I assume happens in many work environments. And let's not misunderstand what an assistant head coach in the NFL means. An assistant head coach is typically there to be the interim head coach if the permanent head coach is unavailable for any reason; that can mean sickness or family emergency, etc. The title in no way makes the assistant coach a co-head coach and doesn't necessarily mean that the assistant head coach has particularly heavy input into the direction of the team. That person doesn't have to share the same operating philosophy as the current head coach, either. Marrone's approach clearly is more old-school and harder-edged than Bradley's, so his approach along those lines now will be different. That doesn't mean he couldn't be a valuable asset as an assistant head coach or offensive line coach – and it doesn't mean Marrone had to agree blindly with all of Bradley's philosophies. It just means they're different.
Perry from Orange Park, FL:
You said you don't believe that the roster is going to be status quo and that the Jaguars still have a lot of evaluating to do. However, Shad Khan's statements that this is a very young and talented team would seem to indicate that at least some analysis has been done and there won't be any major shake-ups roster-wise. What do you see potentially changing?
John: No roster in the NFL is status quo from year to year – and Khan's correct that this is a very young team with talent. But a 3-13 team is not an elite team, either. So, while it's difficult to define "major shakeup," I do think it's fair to assume there must be talent added to this roster. I'd be surprised if running back isn't addressed in the draft. The offensive line certainly will be examined closely; the group improved last season, but something must be done to improve the running game. Tight end could be addressed, and I would be very surprised if a veteran pass rusher isn't added. Yes, Dante Fowler Jr. and Yannick Ngakoue showed signs this past season, particularly Ngakoue. But the idea that a team can "have enough pass rushers" is a silly notion at best and the Jaguars certainly could use an experienced, mature player in the role.
Chris from Houston, TX:
Daniel Jeremiah said that Malik Hooker, the safety from Ohio State, has some of the best ball skills he's ever seen in a safety. Do you think it is possible that the Jaguars could draft him and move Gipson to strong safety? Gipson said he wants to play closer to the line of scrimmage ...
John: I could see Tashaun Gipson playing closer to the line of scrimmage at times, but I can't see him moving to a strong-safety role. He's a free safety.
Mike from Jacksonville:
The last time I looked, the four remaining quarterbacks in the playoffs are all strong-armed with velocity to throw into tight coverage. Who are the Jags going to trade for or draft to fix this issue?
John: It seems there is a good possibility that the Jaguars will pursue competition for Blake Bortles this offseason. I think it's a long shot that the competition will be good enough to beat out Bortles and "fix" the issue immediately, and I don't know that the Jaguars are absolutely convinced yet that Bortles can't be the one doing the fixing.
John from Boynton Beach, FL:
I just hope TC doesn't pull a Danny Glover from Lethal Weapon and say, "I'm too old for this ..."
John: I worry about a lot of things. I don't worry about that.
Stephen from Jacksonville:
Given recent history and the current state of the AFC South, if you believe that the Jaguars can push for a 0.500 or winning record next season, shouldn't you also believe they have a very good chance to make the playoffs?
John: Yes, I think the Jaguars will have a chance to make the playoffs if they can push for a .500 record. I think AFC South teams such as the Texans and Titans are improving enough to get to double-digit victories, but a .500 record or better should get the Jaguars within range.
Matt from Fernandina Beach, FL:
First thing first: We need to get a sound bite of Tom Coughlin yelling "Duval." How great would that be! Here's my question: Coughlin's title with the Jaguars is Executive Vice President. Who had this position within the organization prior to TC being hired or was this position made specifically for him? Also, if the EVP has final say on all roster evaluations and decisions, what is the point of a team having a general manager?
John: The executive vice president of football operations role was created for Coughlin. As far as the point of the general manager, there absolutely is still a point to the role held by David Caldwell. He oversees the Jaguars' personnel department and he and Coughlin will work together on roster decisions such as draft, free agency, etc. Coughlin will have final say, but that doesn't mean Caldwell won't have say.
Alex from Orlando, FL:
How much face time do you think Tom Coughlin will get in front of the entire team? Will he be involved in team meetings before games? The more I think about this I just don't get why he wasn't hired as head coach.
John: I imagine Coughlin's face time before the team in formal situations will be limited – and I doubt he will speak to the team before games. That is the role of head coach and that will be the role of Marrone.
Jags Fan 818:
Is Chad Henne's contract up with the Jags? Will they keep him or let him go? Personally, I've never been a fan of his.
John: Henne has a year remaining on his contract at a base salary of $3 million. That's not an unheard-of salary for a backup quarterback, and Henne's status is one of many, many issues on which the Jaguars must decide in recent weeks. It wouldn't be shocking if Henne returns. He has worked with Bortles and offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett closely for two seasons. At the same time, the Jaguars' dead cap space if they release Henne is $250,000 compared to $5 million last season. So, while there was almost no way Henne wasn't going to be the backup last season, it's much more possible in 2017.
Artie from Orange Park, FL:
With Hackett as the "new" offensive coordinator, does that mean Bortles will be learning another new offense? Wouldn't that be his fourth in four years and one of the things that has hindered his performance?
John: Hackett indeed likely will install his offense as opposed to Greg Olson's offense, which Olson ran with Bortles for 23 games and which Hackett ran with a few of his own tweaks for nine games last season. That essentially makes three offensive coordinators for Bortles in four seasons – Jedd Fisch, Olson and Hackett – but once the Jaguars let Olson go in October that scenario was pretty much unavoidable.
Steve from Nashville, TN:
Who will be our starting tight end to begin the 2017 season?
John: 1.Julius Thomas. 2.Ben Koyack. 3.Marcedes Lewis. 4.TBD. 5.Some combination of all of the above.
Bruce from Green Cove Springs, FL:
There are (I think) 11 unrestricted free agents on the current roster. Of those, my guess is that Luke Joeckel, Joe Banyard, and Denard Robinson are most likely to go. Prince Amukamara, Abry Jones, John Cyprien, and Patrick Omameh are most likely to stay. Tyson Alualu, Bryan Walters, Arrelious Benn, Jordan Hill – no idea. Your thoughts?
John: I would be surprised if Cyprien is back at this point because I think he's going to get big money on the open market and I don't know that the Jaguars will want to pay him big money. I think Joeckel might return because I don't know that he'll get big money on the open market – at least in part because of his knee injury. I think Alualu will return because I think the Jaguars will want to re-sign a player who is durable, hard-working and a really good player. That's the sort of player teams like to re-sign.

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