JACKSONVILLE -- As days go, Monday was a weird one.
That's not surprising, because Monday around the Jaguars was getaway day – the day after the last game day of the regular season.
Getaway day is always odd. You never get used to its finality. One day/moment, you're around a team preparing for and playing a game; the next moment, the locker room is empty and you're looking at two or three months of eerie quiet until the offseason program begins.
That's after an ordinary season; getaway day in a time of transition is even odder.
This is very definitely that sort of time for the Jaguars.
The search is on for a permanent head coach to replace Gus Bradley, who was dismissed a little more than two weeks ago. Interim Head Coach Doug Marrone will be a legitimate candidate, and former Jaguars Head Coach Tom Coughlin reportedly interviewed last week. Still, there's no sign either Coughlin or Marrone necessarily is a front-runner.
The locker room Monday reflected that uncertainty, with players talking about not following the rumors in the coming weeks. Many will have one eye on Twitter, of course, and already there are reports of other potential candidates.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive coordinator Mike Smith, New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, Arizona Cardinals offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin, Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and New England Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia …
All will fill Jaguars Twitter and will be the subject of reports in the coming days.
Monday's locker room also was filled with players discussing what went wrong in 2016. As would be expected after a 3-13 season that began with high expectations, the theories were many. Cornerback Jalen Ramsey and safety Tashaun Gipson talked after Sunday's game of not being used ideally this season, and defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. told the media Monday he considers himself more a standup defensive end than the hand-on-the-ground version he played this season.
What does it all mean? Probably this:
That this is a team that failed by a wide margin to meet expectations; when that happens, complaints get aired. When expectations aren't met, fingers get pointed and directions get lost; head coaches get fired, and seasons end with a chaotic feel.
Is it messy? Yes.
Does it create interesting storylines? Without question.
Is it a tragedy? A sign that all hope for the future is lost? No. There will be a new head coach soon – and that could mean a new staff. It certainly will mean a new direction, a new voice. Players will leave for the offseason, hit refresh and return refocused and perhaps a bit more seasoned and professional – older, wise and having gained from the experience.
What will we do? Well, we'll do what we do every day in the O-Zone. We'll move on, talk it out and be glad to be talking football. So, on to the offseason. #DTWD
Let's get to it …
Logan from Wichita, KS:
It is clear to me the locker room is broken. The defense hates the offense and now the defense is mad at the coaches and each other, so we are in a massive mess. Half the team doesn't want to be here and 100 percent of them have no confidence we can win games. This offseason brings no hope.
John: The defense doesn't hate the offense and these players absolutely have confidence they will win. Players need to get away. Whoever's coaching the team needs to get into the building and set a course. It's time for a reset. That's what the offseason will be about. There's nothing broken around the Jaguars that won't solve.
Daniel Since Day One:
I agree with picking the best available player, but I'm not sure another great weak-side linebacker or wide receiver stuck on the bench most of the time would help. Walters deserves far more playing time and his routes and hands are what settled Blake Bortles down. Best possession receiver we have had since Keenan McCardell – and maybe better! But he rarely gets to play. If nothing else, I hope these last two games put an end to that.
John: I wouldn't want to see the Jaguars draft a weak-side linebacker, but that won't happen at No. 4 overall. I can't think of a No. 4-worthy position where the Jaguars couldn't use a great player: quarterback, defensive end, wide receiver, left tackle, defensive tackle, cornerback … Check, check, check, check, check, check. That's not to say the Jaguars can't win with the players they have there. But if there's a Jalen Ramsey-level talent at those spots, could such player help the Jaguars? Yes. The strongest argument against would be cornerback, because two lock-down corners might be overkill. At the same time, there are worse problems … wait? Did you say Brian Walters is better than Keenan McCardell?
DUVAL DOOM from Section 217:
I get frustrated by this team. I let that frustration out and am often told I am wrong about whatever I'm frustrated about. This past week I was frustrated with the kicker. Two years in a row we've had an opportunity to beat the Colts in their house, and two years in a row Jason Myers has missed multiple field goals to help do so. I typically approach the Jaguars from an emotional place, so I don't care about stats enough to bother looking at them. I was told Myers makes 85 percent of his kicks, and that is good. So why do I get SO nervous every time he kicks? Why does the entire stadium cross their fingers? I don't remember feeling that way with Scobee. (I'm not advocating the return of Scobee, to be clear) Just extremely frustrating to me.
John: I thought Myers did quite a bit to inspire confidence this season – and up until the last two games, he was very good. He actually missed just two field goals under 50 yards this season. But in the last two weeks he missed two extra points and a 30-yard field goal. That's not confidence-inspiring.
Bruce from Owensboro, KY:
I know it's awful early for this question, but what do you think about going after Romo? He would need a better offensive line but other than that – and maybe a running back – I think if you bring him in you are .500 or better right away. You could sit Bortles and get the fan base excited. What say you, Big O?
John: I doubt the Jaguars go that route. A major reason I doubt it is I expect Romo to be released or traded by the Cowboys. If he is released, I doubt a 3-13 team would appeal to him considering his age and considering there likely would be teams perceived as being in better position to win quickly. If he is traded, I expect the Cowboys to allow him some sort of input into his destination. If that's the case, the whole "3-13-team" thing would come into play again.
Hika from Jacksonville:
This team will never know how to win. We will be stuck as a six-win team max per year forever!
Christopher from St. Augustine, FL:
Mr. Oehser, Gus Bradley had to be let go due to his performance this year. I do think it's unfair to simply judge him on his overall record as a head coach because for the first few years he was given a gutted roster and asked to make them competitive. That's a big ask. But I think he's the head coach the Jaguars needed for those first few years because his constant positivity probably helped players stay energized throughout a rough rebuild. Now I think the Jaguars need to bring in a coach with a history of winning that can establish that mentality for a team that has been through some really lean years. Your thoughts?
John: My thoughts are I'm about ready to cease rehashing the Gus Bradley Issue, but I think there's a lot to this theory. People can discuss his record all they want, and I can write about how it's always coaching in the NFL all I want, but Bradley's culture did establish a "constant positivity." That constant positivity eventually gave way this season to a nine-game losing streak, and somewhere in there it became obvious something needed to change. Once that happened, and once the season ended Sunday, you were left with a 3-13 team – and with players who were ready to voice some things. I imagine the next coach will have a sterner feel. I imagine he will say the word "winning" more than Bradley said it. I imagine his approach will be different. I imagine players will buy in and say positive things about this new head coach because that is what players do when there is a new head coach and a new direction. I imagine the mentality of the team will take on the mentality of the new head coach. And I imagine if the Jaguars get quality quarterbacking and pressure from the defensive front in key situations then they will win more – and if that happens, then the head coach's mentality will have a chance to take hold and the whole kit and kaboodle will be successful. Let's hope that happens. Winning's cool. People like it. And there hasn't been nearly enough of it around here lately.