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O-Zone: Well-coordinated

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it … Jeremy from Wise, VA:
If it was up to you, using only the information you have right now (i.e. no interview, so forth), out of the candidates being associated with the opening, what candidate would you hire as head coach and why?
John: I've said from the beginning of this process that I don't know that there's a clear-cut best choice. That's because all of the candidates being mentioned – Mike Smith, Josh McDaniels, Kyle Shanahan, Doug Marrone, Tom Coughlin, Harold Goodwin and Anthony Lynn – appear very capable of leading the team, earning the respect of players and creating an environment in which the team can be successful. Those are the key traits for a head coach. If they go the coordinator route I like the idea of Shanahan because he seems to be a bright, young mind who has been successful in multiple situations. I admit am a little partial in this search to a head coach who previously has had success. That's because this team is still young and in need of a reset, and an experienced coach with a resume of success could garner immediate respect under those circumstances. Smith and Marrone clearly both have those traits, as does Coughlin. I doubt Coughlin is the guy at this point, so go with Smith in my scenario – though I have a hard time saying that there's a mammoth difference between him and Marrone.
Mike from West Palm Beach, FL:
It appears to me the offensive line needs some serious work. Not only could they not protect Blake Bortles, but there were not enough holes for our running backs. There were some games that the running game was OK, but Chris Ivory was a disappointment. Do you think the Jags should concentrate on the offensive line this offseason and the draft?
John: I agree that the Jaguars' offensive line needs to be addressed in the offseason. The question is whether it needs an overhaul or a tweak. The guess is it's more of a tweak with perhaps two positions addressed. The Jaguars need to determine if Jermey Parnell is the right tackle moving forward, and they need to determine if they will move forward with Kelvin Beachum at left tackle. I'm not sure on Parnell and I imagine the Jaguars will retain Beachum. The other issue is left guard … will they re-sign Luke Joeckel to play there, or will they go another direction? But keep one thing in perspective: while the Jaguars indeed struggled to run this past season – and while much of that was because the line struggled to run block – the Jaguars were a vastly improved pass-blocking unit, improving from 71 sacks allowed in 2014 to 51 in 2015 to 34 this past season. The Jaguars weren't the league's best pass-blocking line, but for the most part the line blocked more than well enough for the passing game to function.
Aaron from Chantilly:
I know Blake Bortles is candid, and that's refreshing to some extent, but they are still excuses. That line of thinking is only going to enable him.
John: If Bortles doesn't develop into a frontline NFL starter candidness won't be the reason.
MrPadre from Kingsland, GA:
In regards to Jaginator's comparison to the Bucs losing for draft position, there's a HUGE difference between playing backups and "trying" to lose. Tanking is when you are trying to lose the game by not performing at your best on purpose. Removing your starters and allowing others to play is not the same thing ... just thought I'd put that out there. #DTWD
John: Well, it's kinda, sorta the same, but you're right: it's a little different.
Travis from North Dakota:
Hey John, I would like to know your opinion on Kelvin Beachum. Do you think he played well enough for the Jags to pick up the option on his contract or do you think we will let him walk?
John: I do think Kelvin Beachum played well enough for the Jaguars to pick up his option, and I think that's what the team will do. Beachum wasn't perfect in 2016, and he said throughout the season he wasn't satisfied with his play. But considering he was right at a year removed from a torn anterior cruciate ligament, he played at a remarkably high level. He pass-protected well for the most part with no oh-my-goodness games – the kind you fear from your left tackle. He didn't run block as well as he pass blocked, but that should improve as his knee gets healthier this offseason.
Andre from Honeytown:
Khan's last head-coaching decision came around January 17. Do you think this time it will be before, after, or right on the honey mark?
John: I imagine it will be before. That's because the Jaguars got an earlier start in this process than in 2013. Remember the Jaguars hired David Caldwell as general manager before getting full-bore into the process to hire Gus Bradley. The timetable therefore could be moved up a few days. Depending on circumstance, it's reasonable to think that could be the case.
Dennis from Macclenny, FL:
Why not give Marrone a one-year deal? This is not a rebuild and the reality of it is Blake Bortles will be the Jaguars' quarterback next season. Marrone believes in Bortles, so let's get on with it.
John: Doug Marrone is a legitimate head-coaching candidate who has been successful as an NFL head coach and who will be a head coach in the NFL again soon. Not only would offering him the job with a one-year deal be insulting, why in the world would he accept it if offered?
Michael from Middleburg, FL:
Hey, O: do we have a coach yet?
John: No, but there's a guy in ticketing who can wiggle his ears. There's also a girl in marketing who can make clockwise circles with her right foot and draw a six in the air with her right hand at the same time and we all think that's just the most adorable thing.
Mike from Atlanta, GA:
I am out of the loop. Were Bortles' shoulder separations in his throwing shoulder? If so, that could explain some of his accuracy issues. I hate excuse-makers, but sometimes it's simply an explanation. Gravity isn't an excuse for an apple falling from a tree, it is the reason it falls from the tree.
John: Bortles' separations were in his throwing shoulder, but they happened in the second half of the season, so they don't explain his early-season accuracy issues. They also don't explain that Bortles improved in the final two games. Bortles when discussing the issues this past week said there probably times the separations affected him, but he in no way tried to say that the separations defined his season.
Marc from US Assure:
Does Dante Fowler Jr. wanting to rush standing up indicate he wants to play a different position, or is it acceptable for a 4-3 defensive end to stand up to rush? I'm curious because in high school (don't laugh), I rushed much better standing than with my hand in the dirt. The coaches pushed me to keep my hand down, but eventually relented as I was much more effective standing. I never played past high school so there is that.
John: I don't get the idea Fowler cares what his position is called. I get the idea he wants to play in a way he thinks he can be more effective. He believes that's standing up as a pass rusher – and who knows? Maybe it is. It's difficult in a 4-3 defense for an end to stand up on all downs because of the run responsibility – and because if he's standing up it's sorta not a 4-3. Still, it's way too early to know the Jaguars' scheme next season, so we'll see. Oh … and you know how you said (don't laugh)? Well …
Keith from Palatka, FL:
First of all, I hope that Blake Bortles does improve and succeed. It would be foolish not to think that. Do you think that we need a Plan B (backup plan) just in case Bortles struggles again? What would be your idea of a Plan B?
John: I don't doubt there will be a Plan B at quarterback for the Jaguars next season. That's because while I think Bortles will start, I don't think it's necessarily a given. The tricky part of a "Plan B" at the quarterback position is determining what is meant by "Plan B." Does that mean trading for a quarterback such as A.J. McCarron? Or does it mean signing a player such as Jay Cutler? Does it mean a player such as Ryan Fitzpatrick, Tyrod Taylor or Brian Hoyer? The overriding question about all such players is what would it take to sign them – and if it takes a lot to sign them, are they truly a Plan B? Are you going to pay a player front-line quarterback money – and even non-front-line quarterbacks are very, very expensive – to compete? Those are the questions the Jaguars must answer upon the hiring of a new head coach.

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