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O-Zone: That's just wrong

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Hill from Reseda, CA:
Zone, there is talk among the Tennessee Titans and Cleveland Browns that their owners are looking to hire a new head coach before a general manager. These are two largely losing franchises, and I'm curious based on the fact the Jaguars hired David Caldwell before Gus Bradley if you think looking to hire a head coach before a general manager is something that may lead to further instability and a lack of success – or if the order doesn't matter if the owner hits on his decisions.
John: It depends what the owner wants. If the owner wants a "traditional" power structure in which the general manager hires the head coach, then hiring the head coach obviously doesn't work and could lead to instability. If the owner wants the head coach to have more power and make the general manager essentially the guy who scouts the players and offer ideas to the head coach, then hiring the head coach first makes sense.
Dirk from Green Bay, WI:
Love your stuff, John. Where do you see Jonas Gray's role with the Jags next year?
John: I think Jonas Gray has a good chance to be the Jaguars' second- or third-team running back.
Stephen from Jacksonville:
Do you believe Marqise Lee is capable of achieving the same production levels as the Allens? Didn't Lee spend last offseason completing his USC degree? Did he participate in the workouts with Blake Bortles and other receivers last year? Is he expected to participate in the Bortles workouts this year? Do you think he can put together a full 2016 season free of injury?
John: Wow. Many, many questions in rapid succession. You what I think I'll do? Answer them! Yes, I think Lee can be as productive as Hurns. No, Lee hasn't finished his degree, though he will return to Southern California this offseason to continue working toward it. He didn't do much with Bortles and the other receivers last offseason, though most of the receivers didn't do much with Bortles until right before minicamp. Lee said he will fly to Jacksonville this offseason more to participate in the Bortles workouts. Finally, yes, I believe Lee can put together a 2016 season free of injury.
Bruce from Green Cove Springs, FL:
I get that our defensive woes could be blamed on Babich, injuries, talent, depth or any combination thereof. But when a defense is abysmal over three seasons, it's hard to argue with a defensive coordinator change. What concerns me more is a potential change at offensive coordinator. Greg Olson's offense has improved significantly. The nature of the league is that successful coordinators get interviews for head coaching jobs. What does your crystal ball tell you regarding Olson's return next season?
John: I didn't see the defense as overly abysmal in2014, but if you did, that's fine. I think Olson will return as offensive coordinator next season.
Tom from Jacksonville:
Todd Wash … are you kidding me? Cause the defensive line was so stellar. And while we're at it, any team that would make Doug Marrone a head coach is doomed. Look at the way our O-line played. I'm starting to think the whole league is brain damaged. Here's one for a coach who can actually develop players.
John: How a position group under a coach fares is so not indicative of how that coach might perform as a coordinator as to be almost laughable. Your question also is indicative of the folly of trying to hire coaches based on past records. Marrone was a good head coach in Buffalo, so the fact that this line allowed 51 sacks this season makes him a bad one? Wash got a lot out of the defensive line in 2014, so the fact the line struggled this season makes him a bad coach? Bill Belichick went 5-11 his final season in Cleveland. Tony Dungy got fired from Tampa Bay and led the Indianapolis Colts to the playoffs every year for seven seasons after that. Past records simply do not dictate the future success of coaches. That's part of what makes this time of year so silly sometimes.
Kenny from Rochester, NY:
I read what Caldwell said about free agency – that he is going to go into the "win-now" mentality. Putting money into declining players who – as you have said – you will have to overpay – in free agency is a terrible idea. How did you feel about it?
John: Caldwell has avoided making foolish, cap-killing moves in free agency. Until he proves me wrong, I have no reason to think he will start making such moves.
Scott from Section 137 and Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
Any possibility we go to a more traditional 4-3 with a new defensive coordinator? It seems our best defense was when we used that scheme rather than try to find LEO types to fill the role. With that type of defense, it's easier to rush the passer more consistently from either end. Your thoughts?
John: My thought is in 21 seasons covering the NFL I've yet to see a defense in which it's "easy to rush the passer" from anywhere.
Richard from Starke, FL:
This rebuild has been painfully slow and long. If the Jaguars find the success they are looking for, do you think more of the coach churning, cellar-dweller teams will take this approach in the future?
John: I think they would be tempted, though I think the idea of selling fans on a long rebuild is very, very difficult.
Scott from Jacksonville:
Is it safe to say after sitting out offseason programs, showing up out of shape, sitting out most of training camp for undisclosed reasons, getting veterans days off, age 34 and all for three sacks, that Chris Clemons will not be back?
John: I doubt Clemons will be back, though the age 34 and three sacks has far, far, far more to do with that than anything else you mentioned.
Tudor from St. Augustine, FL:
All right: I've got to man up and admit my mistake. I said Chris Clemons would get it done when it mattered and he did not. The naysayers were correct, and I was incorrect.
John: Manning up is good for you. It builds character. I was wrong, too. I thought Clemons would be better than he was this season.
Trent from Fernandina Beach, FL:
I've been confused on the opinion that Gus will have to make the playoffs next year to remain as coach. We just went 5-11, and even on defense next year, Dante Fowler Jr. will be an unproven rookie and any free agents or draft picks will also be gambles. I would be more displeased and angry with our lack of progress in these three years. To expect a guy to go from 5-11 to the playoffs is nonsensical to me.
John: I think the Jaguars have to win at least as much as they lose next year, and maybe more. I have no idea what "number" Shad Khan has in mind, but I think the direction – and whether that direction is good enough – will be pretty evident as next season plays out.
Michael from Gainesville, FL:
O, wondering why you are dismissive about the possibility of offensive line early? Certainly we have other glaring needs, but O-line is clearly one of them and I thought we were building for the long term. "Serviceable" won't cut it at left tackle, and we traded a better one for the potential of an upgrade that hasn't manifested. Why not move Joeckel to the right and draft a left tackle? If we hit on that combination Bortles, the run game, and the Jaguars are the beneficiaries.
John: I'm dismissive about the possibility of offensive line early because I don't think the Jaguars will draft offensive line early – and because I'm not sure it's the case anymore that "serviceable" won't cut it at left tackle. If you have a quarterback with good pocket awareness and the ability to get rid of the ball and move in the pocket, serviceable works. It's not ideal, but you can win with that.
Ray from Jacksonville:
John: Maybe the frustration directed at Luke Joeckel is misdirected. He is similar to Tyson Alualu. He presumably is trying hard to learn his craft, but was simply drafted too high. The frustration should be directed at those who drafted "OK" players with high first-round selections.
John: Maybe the frustration should be at the fates for conspiring that the 2013 NFL Draft was generally a weak one, making it difficult to find an impact player at No. 2 overall.
Steve from Jacksonville:
While I still think the Jags have a lot of work to do (particularly on defense), I'd much rather be talking about that then the conversations in San Diego, Oakland, and St. Louis.
John: True that.
Will from Jacksonville:
Three years ago, I told you Bob Babich and Jedd Fisch were bad hires and you didn't believe me. Do you ever admit when you are wrong?
John: Will, I've been married just under 24 years. It's practically all I ever do.

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