JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Gary from Wesley Chapel
Hey, Zone: Just to add more layers of possibilities to the offseason questions facing the Jags … We don't know how much General Manager Dave Caldwell was all-in on which decisions that former Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin had the 'final' say on – and which decisions he would have, and will, change if he is retained. Would he have hired Head Coach Doug Marrone? Would he have paid quarterback Nick Foles? Would he have drafted running back Leonard Fournette? Also, if Owner Shad Khan has decided on retaining both Caldwell and Marrone, why not just have Marrone report to Caldwell in the "interim" rather than each report to Khan separately?
You're correct that we don't know the answers to those questions, and we likely will never know for certain. That's because Caldwell won't likely publish a scorecard of decisions he would have made; that would be self-serving and wouldn't serve much purpose. Remember, too: Major decisions on free agents and high-end draft selections get made after months of scouting, meetings and discussions. Coughlin and Caldwell certainly met on the Foles decision often, just as they met often on all drafts over the last three years. During those meetings, the two along with scouts of various levels likely reached enough of a consensus that the eventual direction became evident to all involved. That's more how these things work as opposed to Coughlin banging the table for one player and Caldwell banging the table for another in a courtroom-type debate. As for why Khan wouldn't have Marrone report to Caldwell in the interim … your question implies that the only way to structure it would be to have the head coach report to the general manager. It doesn't have to be that way, and I don't know that it's guaranteed that that will be Khan's structure moving forward.
Jeffrey from Atlantic Beach, FL
The plan to "rebuild" or "retool" with a front office and coaching staff on one-year contracts doesn't make much sense.
Marrone and Caldwell are on contracts that run through 2021.
Tyler from Jacksonville
I fear the only way for the fan base to support the Jaguars retaining Caldwell would be to actually hear from his mouth that the two worst days of his life were when Coughlin picked running back Leonard Fournette and defensive tackle Taven Bryan. We need to hear he cried himself to sleep those nights knowing he had passed on Patrick Mahomes, Deshaun Watson and Lamar Jackson. Anything short of this would be unacceptable.
I fear you will have a long, frustrating wait. First, the quarterbacks you mentioned weren't as "can't-miss" at the time of their selections as they are in hindsight. Second, for Caldwell to publicly blame all failings on Coughlin would be classless and shallow. That's true whatever actually happened at the time.
Garrett from Edgewater
Good morning, Zone. It's a difficult position we find ourselves in. On the one hand, our front office is free of the Coughlin "tyranny," but I fear that the situation has regressed too far and we need to flip the office. It's difficult for me because I like them all. They're all capable, good-natured and professional men. Regardless of who is in the office, who should our two first-round selections be? I know it's hard to answer that, but if I get my way we will be taking Derrick Brown and either a lineman or corner, but that's just me? Thoughts? Gotta look forward to something for the jags.
I think the Jaguars should select linemen in the first round unless there's an overwhelming reason to select another position. They must stop getting gouged by opposing running games and they must be able to run more effectively.
JT from Fort Worth, TX
I try to not read into things, but Yannick's message sure seems like this will be his last game as a Jag. If Jacksonville screws this up, where does it rank on the list of screw-ups? Him and Josh Allen are the future of the defensive line.
I don't doubt that Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue currently believes Sunday could be his last game in Jacksonville. That's a possibility because he will be an unrestricted free agent after the season. But the Jaguars also have the franchise tag available this offseason, and we don't yet have a feel for the direction of the franchise after the season.
Taylor from Columbia, MD
Hi John, why do you believe Myles Jack is a capable middle linebacker? The fans, the eye test, Tony Boselli and Jeff Lageman disagree. I'm not trying to be a jerk, I'm just wondering what you see differently? Also, by what metric do you come to the conclusion that Donald Payne is not playing better? I love Myles, but he hasn't looked good to me at MLB. While Payne isn't the long term answer either, at least he makes tackles downfield. Myles missed tackles altogether and/or got blocked out of the play entirely.
I conclude that Jack is playing better than Payne because Payne makes too many tackles too far downfield – and because while Jack was roundly criticized, he was playing better for the most part than many observers believed. I believe there's a good chance Jack will move to the outside next season. I also believe he's better-suited there than he is suited to the middle. But that doesn't make him an incapable middle linebacker. He also this season was trying to make up for a lot of what was going on around him – i.e., rookie Quincy Williams and a rotating position at weak-side linebacker. Jack didn't struggle nearly as much last season when he was playing next to veteran Telvin Smith. That's not a coincidence.
Fred from Naples, FL
So the Jaguars will let a three-straight-year Pro Bowler walk in defensive end Calais Campbell because of his age and salary cap? Terrific. Look for him to be an All Pro next year. Why? Why not!? It's how we roll.
I understand the need for cynicism around the Jaguars these days. But the Jaguars wouldn't be let Campbell go simply because of age and the cap. If they were going to do that for those reasons, they would have let it happen last season. Campbell isn't playing at near the level this season as he did the last two seasons. I wish that wasn't true. I like Campbell (who doesn't?) and wish he could play forever. That's not how it works. For anyone.
Howard from Homestead, FL
I hope the head coach returns. On the other hand, we have four years of Caldwell's drafts to evaluate from 2013-2016, before TC came back to town. Four drafts, 32 players, and we only have four players to show for it. Just two that could be considered impact players: Jack and Ngakoue. (Please don't tell me about the players who left, because part of the job is keeping good players, not just drafting them.) In your objective opinion, do you really believe two good players in four drafts is good enough to merit any general manager keeping his job?
No. But if Khan retains Caldwell, he's not doing so based on those drafts. He would be doing it based on what he believes Caldwell can do moving forward.
Bill from Jacksonville
They say the NFL is "a business." Well, it sure isn't run like one. Why didn't the Jags just let former quarterback Blake Bortles play out the final year of his contract? Why did the Jags give quarterback Nick Foles an overpriced contract simply out of fear of how not doing so would be perceived in the locker room? If they retain Marrone and Caldwell, why is there a need to extend their contracts? NFL personnel and writers love to preach "the NFL is a business," so why isn't it operated as such?
The Jaguars extended Bortles because they believed the extension was favorable for the team – and had he played as well in 2018 and 2019 as he did in 2017, that contract would have been favorable. They signed Foles to his contract because they believed he would be the franchise quarterback for four seasons. I don't get the idea that the Jaguars will extend the contracts of Marrone or Caldwell if they are retained – at least not this offseason. They are currently under two-year deals, and I imagine that would be the length of their contracts if they are retained. As for your final question … the NFL is a business. Decisions get made based on money all the time. The competitive nature of the league perhaps makes it different than many businesses, but it's absolutely a business.
Ed from Jacksonville
Regarding the clocks that were advanced five minutes by Coughlin, who ran the player meetings? Don't the coaches run the meetings? So, the coaches couldn't schedule their own meetings for the last three seasons? Did the coaches start scheduling their meetings five minutes later?
You're overthinking it. Football operations simply operated on a clock that was five minutes fast. It wasn't all that confusing, though it admittedly was a bit odd and unnecessary.