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O-Zone: Taking control

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

George from Savannah, GA

Several teams – Kansas City, Houston and Baltimore – were astute enough to select quarterbacks that Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin and our scouts did not see their potential. Is this a Coughlin, General Manager David Caldwell or scouting lack of insight and why is that?

We don't know precisely what scouts, Coughlin and/or Caldwell saw in the three players to whom you refer: Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs, Deshaun Watson of the Houston Texans and Lamar Jackson of the Baltimore Ravens. It's likely some people within the organization liked one, two or all the players and equally likely that some within the organization didn't agree with those assessments. Disagreement regarding players is common, particularly in this case; all three quarterbacks carried a certain amount of risk with substantial reward. The ultimate decision in all cases fell to Coughlin; he has had final say overall football decisions since rejoining the franchise in January 2017. Bottom line: The Jaguars opted during the 2017 and 2018 NFL Drafts to continue with quarterback Blake Bortles and pass on the three quarterbacks. This made sense on some levels at the time, and also was debatable at the time. Not selecting any of the players in retrospect was a mistake; those players are having success and the Jaguars are not. Why did it happen? Sometimes, you hit. Sometimes, you miss. It's the nature of talent evaluation. The Jaguars in this case missed.

Brandon from Jacksonville

A poll question recently was posted by guys on the radio regarding the decision of a team in similar situation to where the Jaguars are right now – to either win out because you play to win the game, or lose out to claim a decent spot in the next year's first round of drafting. In your experience, have you ever seen or heard of a team that actually debates this strategy? It seems most would want to win out regardless, and to be honest, that makes much more sense to me.

No team debates this – at least not in a meaningful way. Coaches coach to win and players play to win; they don't care about the draft. Do front-office types prefer an early draft selection? Yes, but they don't control players. Teams therefore always play to win. Sometimes they're not good enough to win, but that's not the same as not wanting to win.

Richard from Jacksonville

Mahomes was projected as a late first-round pick by people unable to properly evaluate quarterbacks. Chiefs Head Coach Andy Reid, despite having a playoff quarterback already, was willing to trade into the Top 10 to draft him, jumping in front of New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton, who would have drafted him despite also having a playoff caliber quarterback.


Dave from Los Angeles, CA

As we settle in for another season's bitter end, what should we be looking for on the field? Youth development? Minshew's pocket performance? Or is it all meaningless slop at this point?

Rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew II is the main story around the Jaguars in the final month of the season. All else on the field is secondary.

Mac from Jacksonville

I worry we've lost a lot of leverage to trade Foles. If we'd just ridden with Minshew all along, the most recent memory in everyone's minds of Foles would be his successful stint with the Eagles. Playing him the last few games only put bad tape out there and decreased his value.

Head Coach Doug Marrone was trying to win games. He thought when he put quarterback Foles into the lineup following the team's bye week that Foles was the best chance to win. It's that simple. There were no other factors. There's not much point in thinking about this issue in any other light.

Danny from Jacksonville

Funkmaster, what would stop us from keeping Foles as a backup next year? We're losing money anyway, we might as well get something out of it.

Who's to say that won't happen?

Ty from Jacksonville

O-Man, the changing of general manager/front-office personnel and head coaches has normally been very transparent under both of our owners. One area that this doesn't occur in is the scouting department. Why is that? Does the scouting department turn over whenever there's a new general manager or executive vice president of football operations? What I'm getting at is what if the issue has been talent evaluation by the scouts this giving bad data for the general manager to base evaluations on for free agency and the draft?

Few NFL teams are overly transparent when it comes to news regarding scouts or mid-level personnel officials, but that's not as much being secretive as it is there not being much public interest in those positions. Scouting is relatively anonymous by nature, and most scouts I know like it that way. As for scouting turnover during a change of football leadership … it happens, though it's often not a complete turnover the way you might get in coaching. Scouts tend to stay with organizations, though the personnel officials who head pro and college scouting transitions more when general managers leave. Either way, scouts generally don't give bad "data" to the general manager because the data they give as formulaic as possible: measurables and facts with less emphasis on opinion and ranking players. The higher-level scouts are the ones making the decisions based on that data and based on what they see in evaluation.

Ryan from Reality

In a league designed for parity, why have the Jaguars been so consistently bad for so long? Only one winning season since 2007. Since then we've changed head coaches three times, general managers twice and owners once. Still the same losing. What's wrong with this franchise? Why can't we have nice things?

They haven't had winning play at quarterback. That's not the entire story, but start there.

Tom from Jacksonville

O: ranks Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette as a below-average running back. He is part of the problem. Gets tackled too easily. So please spread the blame around fairly. Just because Fournette is staying out of trouble doesn't give him a pass. He should be allowed to play out his contract or traded. There is a reason Flip does not want to rely on the run. The offensive line is just part of the problem.

Fournette at times does get tackled too easily. But running games rise and fall on offensive lines, and the Jaguars' offensive line as a whole is not as good as it ought to be considering what has been invested there. That's not giving Fournette "a pass," whatever that means. It's just saying that the offensive line should be better.

Garrett from Edgewater

Over the past several years we have all seen the NFL changing at the quarterback position. Moving from drop-back, accurate passers (Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers) and many teams have opted for a mobile passing/running quarterback. So what is your opinion on the Jaguars being able to successfully execute an offense with a running quarterback? Is that an idea that deserves consideration? Could it work? I fear that we won't get the chance to find out, as they're going to figure out how far Gardner will take us next year. Thank you, You're the man.

Who's the running quarterback? If he's good, the Jaguars can run a running-quarterback-based offense successfully. If not, it's a different answer.

Eduardo from Brusque, Brasil

Hey O: I know it is not only the coaches' fault. Everybody has a share of the blame. But it makes me wonder why they fired offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett last year for having an injured unit and don't fire defensive coordinator Todd Wash? I know the defense has some (maybe a lot) of injuries, but they are grossly underachieving as a unit.

The Jaguars shouldn't have fired Hackett last season and they shouldn't have fired Wash this season, so consider this a case of making the right decision this season and the wrong decision last season. As far as they defense grossly underachieving as a unit … is it?

Greg from Section 122 and Jacksonville

It seems your job is part reporter, part bartender, part priest and part therapist. You have to listen to people cry, complain, confess and celebrate – all depending on how things COMPLETELY out of your control transpire on Sunday. At least YOU are consistent in your contributions. Seriously I need your opinion. As a longtime season-ticket holder I have to convince my wife now to allow me to renew my tickets. When I tell her I want them she simply says, "This team stinks, why do you still go?" I need a good answer. Khan and his people always have these snazzy ad campaigns that make me believe. So, what do I tell the wife O-Man? You got experience in this, help me out here.

Tell her what I tell my wife in these situations: That you will do what you want when you want because you are the type of person who takes control of situations, who forces others to accept that what you say is law. Seriously, tell her this. Seriously.