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O-Zone: Weird one

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

JayPee from The Vortex

Where do you weigh in with the Ridley situation? Pretty solid first season back. A lot of big-time plays missed by inches and it seemed like he drew a lot of pass interference calls. Do you think he's worth the second-round pick?

Wide receiver Calvin Ridley caught 76 passes for 1,016 yards and eight touchdowns in 2023, his first season with the Jaguars and his first season in the NFL after what was nearly a two-year absence. But from this view, Ridley was more than these statistics for the Jaguars in 2023. He was difficult to cover, made plays above the Xs and Os and indeed drew some key interference calls for key first downs in some big games. At the same time, he was far from perfect – and observers are correct that he and quarterback Trevor Lawrence somehow never seemed to quite be in sync. If the Jaguars re-sign Ridley before the March 14 start of the 2024 NFL League Year, they must give the Atlanta Falcons a second-round selection in the 2024 NFL Draft. If the Jaguars don't re-sign Ridley before then, they must give the Falcons a third-round '24 selection. Yes, I think he's worth the second-round selection. He's not perfect, but I thought he helped the Jaguars more than he hurt them this past season. And if he leaves, you must be sure someone will replace him adequately.

Tim from Fernandina Beach, FL

John: Joe Gibbs was a great coach, but he was in an era of no salary cap. The 'Skins won with three different quarterbacks, but they were able to pay the rest of team whatever needed to keep the team together. Which coaches in the post-cap era do you consider among the best?

You're correct that Gibbs' success came in the pre-salary cap era. That doesn't diminish the accomplishment of winning three Super Bowls with three different quarterbacks with Washington – but the implementation of the cap and free agency in the mid-1990s indeed is a good time to "split eras." As far as the best head coaches of the 30ish-year era from then to now? Let's go with Bill Belichick, Tony Dungy, Andy Reid, Marty Schottenheimer, Mike Tomlin, Pete Carroll, Mike McCarthy, Mike Shanahan, Tom Coughlin, Mike Holmgren, Bill Cowher and Sean Payton. That's admittedly a long list, but those are the ones I would include in any discussion.

Steve from Nashville, TN

Just curious typically how many hours of your busy day as the Jaguars' senior writer do you spend formulating answers to worthy questions received in the O-Zone?

A minute or two. Here or there. It's amazing how much you can get done that way.

Ken from Jacksonville

Now that all head coaching positions have been filled, have the Jaguars hired any positional coaches –especially on the defensive side of the ball? Yes, we hired a new defensive coordinator, but I don't recall seeing any defensive coaches. Does that mean we are taking our time to get the "right guys" or we're just waiting to announce them all at once? Watching General Manager Trent Baalke's performance with our free agents such as outside linebacker Josh Allen, this clown will wait around until Josh gets a big offer that we can't match. Maybe he has some compromising photos of Owner Shad Khan's family that allow him to keep his job. Let's go get some assistant coaches that know how to coach defensive personnel.

The Jaguars reportedly have hired Matt House as linebackers coach in addition to hiring Ryan Nielsen as the defensive coordinator. I expect they will announce the entire coaching staff when the entire staff is hired. As for how Baalke will handle outside linebacker Josh Allen's contract … I don't know specifics on this. I do know the availability of the franchise tag means Allen almost certainly will play for the Jaguars next season.

Jefferson from Phoenix

Why is everyone saying Josh Allen should be the Pro Bowl quarterback over Indianapolis Colts quarterback Gardner Minshew? I mean … Josh is an amazing player and had a great season. But he's a defensive end, not a quarterback. I just don't understand.

Heh heh.

Big Jags Fan from Jacksonville

The Kansas City Chiefs and Detroit Lions showed how a really good offensive line not only can protect the quarterback, but create running lanes by winning the battle up front in the trenches. I agree with you that Head Coach Doug Pederson and Baalke gain nothing by criticizing their players publicly after the season, but it is so very apparent that the middle of the offensive line must be upgraded this offseason in order to help "fix" this offense, don't you think?

The Jaguars' interior offensive line must be better next season, however it happens. One would presume personnel upgrades would be necessary, though it's possible the players who played there could play better than was the case in 2023.

Bradley from Sparks, NV

After researching the NFL's coordinators and head coaches career paths, I figure the vast majority are hard-working competent professionals with only a few truly being difference makers. The guys that get to the top usually were in the right place at the right time and are probably good at networking and intraoffice politics. So, you're probably right when you say coaching doesn't matter all that much in the NFL.

It's always coaching in the NFL.

Rob from St. Augustine, FL

Washington's 2013 coaching staff: Mike Shanahan, Kyle Shanahan, Matt LaFleur, Mike McDaniel, Sean McVay, Raheem Morris, among others. Went 3-13. It's always coaching, tho.


David from The Island

I'm wondering about the mindset of coaches when they arrive on new teams. Do they look at their new job as a one-year deal? How long are most of their contracts? Do they unpack their stuff or live mostly out of boxes in a month-to-month rental? Doesn't seem like a job where you can hope any longevity.

A head coach usually has a multi-year contract – at least three years. Assistants often have two-year deals. Coaches typically arrive on new teams with optimism – and if they arrive with an incoming head coach as part of a "regime change," they typically arrive figuring there's a decent chance they will be with that team for perhaps three seasons. They hope for more. Sometimes, they get more. Sometimes, they get less. Sometimes, it's a disaster and they're gone within two seasons. Sometimes, they get stability and enough winning to get four or five seasons in one locale. There are, of course, longer stints. I wouldn't say those longer stints are rare, necessarily. I would say coaches should value and savor any stint four-to-five years or longer.

*Mike from Southwest Alabama (Pensacola)       *

John, I'd like to pivot on my Jags and ask your opinion on a different topic. Pro Bowl "activities" – is the Pro Bowl even at all relevant now? I quit watching over a decade ago. I think we should just recognize the honor of being voted in and just pass on any events. Reminds me of the old celebrity "superstars" competitions.

I admit I'm not passionate on this topic – and I suppose my best answer is that the Pro Bowl is and always has been relevant to those who care about it. I didn't watch it all that much when it was a game, and I don't watch it now that it's a "skills competition." I don't hate it. I'm just not interested. There are people who care about it. The ratings suggest many people watch it. And good for them. Who am I to say what should entertain people? If you don't like it, don't watch it. That's probably the easiest solution.


O-ZONE, in your years of covering the Colts, were the Colt fans as passionately unhappy as Jag fans when this didn't go as planned?

Why wouldn't they be? Fans fan. It's what they do.

Sal from Austin, TX

Would you say that since the Shad Khan era, the Jaguars' organization doesn't have a basic identity? With the Weavers, you knew you were getting tough, physical football with big play guys on offense. What quality, besides the I'll advised rebrand, would you say defines the Shad Khan era?

I'm not sure I'm on board with the premise that most organizations have "basic identities." The Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens are perhaps exceptions to this, but it seems they're relatively rare. And I don't know that the Jaguars' identity from 1995 through 2011 was as much the ownership of Wayne Weaver as it was the direction under first Head Coach Tom Coughlin and later Head Coach Jack Del Rio. As for the identity of the Shad Khan era … I wouldn't say there really is one. The team has lost too often and it's hard to have an identity when you're losing.

P Funk from Murray Hill

It was a weird O-Zone yesterday.

You're welcome.