O-Zone: Tears of a clown

JACKONVILLE – Let's get to it … Don from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
How do you think the players are going to respond to the new culture? We know that some will want out. They will be asked to do things that they will not want to do.
John: I imagine the "new culture" will send some shockwaves through the Jaguars' locker room, and I don't doubt there will be day-to-day changes in meetings, practice, the locker room, etc. Still, I don't foresee players being overwhelmed or confused by the changes. These guys have played football most of their lives for different coaches with different approaches. The atmosphere under Head Coach Doug Marrone seems certain to have a harder-edged, old-school feel than the atmosphere under former Head Coach Gus Bradley. Will that be a change? Sure. Will it cause players to flee for the door and go crying to their mommies? I don't see that. They're football players. They'll adapt to the changes – or they won't. If they don't, I don't get the impression saying good-bye to them will bother Marrone all that much. I don't get the impression it will bother Tom Coughlin all that much, either.
Mr. Chan from Springfield, FL:
If Tom Coughlin is "Vice President" of Football Operations, then who is the "President" of Football Operations?
John: /Raises hand
Mike from Mount Isle of Palms, SC:
I am all for trading for Philip Rivers at any cost. Then maybe we could finally beat San Diego (uh-oh … Los Angeles)!!
John: I keep hearing about Philip Rivers to the Jaguars, and he indeed is an elite quarterback who usually gives his team a chance to win and who will go down as one of the better quarterbacks of his era. He's a quarterback a lot of teams would love to have on their roster. I guess I haven't heard yet why the Chargers are no longer one of those teams.
Joe from Jacksonville:
So, the Chargers can change their helmets design three times in a week. Not the Jags, though; we are stuck with the laughingstock helmets of the NFL. Why is that, Mr. O?
John: The Chargers have not changed their helmet design. The logos that have been seen this week were marketing logos and not helmet designs.
Jon from Ocala, FL:
Hi, John. Do you know the last time there has been an NFL season with no head-coaching changes? I would Google it, but I'd rather have you do that. Thanks!
John: I didn't feel like Googling it, either.
Paul from Jupiter, FL:
Man, this really smells like David Caldwell got demoted to Head Scout. I thought Dave did a good job. Sure, the jury is still out on Blake Bortles, but he had a lot of doubles and triples. Then again, why would he sign a three-year extension if he felt demoted?
John: Caldwell is more than head scout. Just how the responsibilities break down with Coughlin now on staff remain to be seen. I thought Jaguars Owner Shad Khan said it best this week when he talked about Caldwell being a talented young executive. He's that – and the best thing that could happen for his reputation around the NFL is for the moves made by the Jaguars this week to work. If so, a lot of the players Caldwell has drafted in the last four seasons would be a huge reason – and Caldwell would then correctly get a lot of credit for the Jaguars' success.
Dave from Jacksonville:
Something tells me you would like to see the Jags lose next year just to support your refrain of "coaching doesn't matter."
John: I've never to my recollection said coaching doesn't matter in the NFL. I have said that coaching is often blamed far too much for everything that goes wrong in the NFL when in fact coaching of course is always part of it when something goes wrong – but rarely all of what goes wrong. It's hard for people to accept that, because people want to blame one thing and want to rid their teams of one thing in the hopes that doing so will cure all that ails that team. I can't control what is difficult for people to accept. What I can control is what I write here in the O-Zone – and what I often write here in the O-Zone is that it's always coaching in the NFL … because, of course, it's always coaching in the NFL.
Robert from Moorpark, CA:
Zones, are you as surprised as I am that teams are putting their trust in very young first-year head coaches? The guy for the Rams' introduction speech was exactly the same as Gus Bradley's except I've never even heard of the guy. "It's not about winning ... it's about getting better every day … blah, blah, blah." WHAT? Do teams not pay attention to what happens to other teams? I'm pumped for the Jags and Tomcat next season, though.
John: I'm not surprised teams are putting trust in young, first-year head coaches. One reason for that is I have ceased to be surprised at the decisions of NFL owners. These are wealthy, successful men who have the right to their own vision and often implement that vision without regard for outside opinion or conventional wisdom. I specifically was not surprised by the Los Angeles Rams hiring 30-year-old Sean McVay as head coach; his reputation as a young-up-and-coming coaching talent has been growing rapidly. As far as his introduction speech being similar to Bradley's … that absolutely didn't surprise me. It has become vogue among fans and observers to believe that everything that Bradley did, said or thought was absolutely and utterly wrong. That's what happens when you lose as many games as Bradley did in a four-year period. And it's wonderful that Coughlin and Marrone are speaking more about winning than Bradley did; that's a shift in focus that could help change the culture and create a needed sense of urgency. The losing has gone on long enough in Jacksonville that clearly change was necessary. At the same time, the philosophy of getting better every day, focusing on improvement and not constantly talking about winning is by no means an idiotic, delusional approach. There are plenty of successful coaches, teams and programs that take the same approach. So, am I surprised when I hear other coaches discuss a similar philosophy? Not in the least.
Troy from Dover, PA:
How does this sound? ... San Diego Jaguars
John: It sounds like some things you might find in a very famous zoo, and it also sounds like something an uninformed observer might say – or something a frustrated San Diegan might say. Considering the obvious, consistent commitment Jaguars Owner Shad Khan has shown to the city of Jacksonville for more than five years, it mostly sounds silly, outdated, petty, pointless, tone-deaf, sad, foolish, inaccurate and desperate – essentially, it sounds like something that isn't happening.
Mark from Archer, FL:
John, count me among those who have been swayed after the press conference Thursday. With Coughlin running things, I expect us to win. This team needs a firm hand to guide – and now we have that with our VP and the coach that I have read that Coughlin wanted. If Marrone is good enough for Coughlin, he is good enough for me to coach the team.
John: #TCTWD
PK from Atlanta, GA:
With the recent hires of Vance Joseph, Anthony Lynn, Sean McDermott, Sean McVay and our own Doug Marrone, it seems NFL owners were less worried about making a big splash with name recognition than they were with hiring someone they felt could best do the job. History tells us that at least a few of these won't be successful, and this is not a knock on Smith, Shanahan or McDaniels, but maybe fans don't know nearly as much as we think we do sometimes. Thoughts?
John: Stop right there, PK. Fans are always right. So is the media. And it's always coaching in the NFL. There are truths in life and there are TRUTHS – and we mustn't forget the big ones.
Mike from Jacksonville:
When fans questioned the "culture" under Bradley, the team, this site and former players made us out be crazy. Now from the owner down all we hear is how we needed a new culture. So, essentially, we had to endure a losing culture for four years.
John: When teams lose, the culture is bad and gets changed. When teams win, the culture is awesome and stays the same. It's professional sports' circle of life.
Keith from Summerville, SC:
Will Tom Coughlin have any say on that square table you guys use for Jags of the Round table? I can't watch the show just because of that table.
John: Coughlin mentioned this to me Friday at lunch. I knew this was a key moment in our relationship, and knew I needed to stand my ground or risk him losing respect for me forever. I gave him a blank look and began to cry.

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