JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …
Tom from Shanghai, China
I'm still surprised at your conciliatory tone toward former Jaguars Head Coach Urban Meyer. You described him as someone "learning on the job" – as if he might have improved with time. If you're at the stage of learning, you don't kick players, you don't call assistants losers, you don't let the team fly home alone while you party etc., etc., etc. You should probably be in kindergarten, not an NFL sideline.
One of the shortcomings of the written word, particularly in the hands of an amateur such as myself, is tone sometimes can be misinterpreted. You interpreted me writing about Meyer learning on the job compared to Head Coach Doug Pederson not having to do so as conciliatory regarding Meyer. That was not the intent. The intent was to show the sharp contrast in professionalism, capability, readiness and approach between one head coach and another. I referred to Meyer as learning on the job because he on multiple occasions publicly referenced learning about this aspect or that aspect of the NFL while the Jaguars' head coach. I absolutely did not use the phrase to infer that I believe he would learn with time. I saw nothing to suggest that was the case.
Dave from Section 103
O-man, from my count the Jags have used 14 first-round picks on players from the SEC (including six Gators) and only one player from the Big 10. How does this happen? Either the Jaguars need to up their budget for scouts to travel, or the organization needs to realize they play football up north also.
The Jaguars' scout the entire country, and their travel budget for scouting is fine. They also realize "they play football up north also." The Jaguars' front office and decision-makers have essentially changed completely in the last two offseasons, so this statistic – while interesting – really doesn't pertain to the organization now.
Stephen from 113 from Jacksonville via Pennauken NJ
John, here is my two cents on the referee conspiracy theories. There is none. That said, I do have a few observations that I hope garner a "good eye." First, referees are human and humans make mistakes. Bad teams make bad plays and referees throw flags on bad plays. Good teams and good players probably get a subconscious "pass" on an occasional play. The best way not to worry about the referees is to score significantly more points than our opponent and win games. Winning fixes everything. Thanks.
Steve from Wallingford, CT
All this talk about officiating makes me wonder if the average fan realizes that there is usually a penalty on every play. Holding, contact outside five yards, pushing someone's back shoulder, contact after the whistle. I for one would hate to watch a game where they called everything.
Bryan from Stumptown
Yo, Grizz! Putting aside the conspiracy of dunces topic as it relates to big versus small market teams, what do you make of the Super Bowl approach to officiating that seems markedly different from the rest of the season? The refs simply don't make calls until the fourth quarter. Past officials have been interviewed and admitted they were told to "stay out of the way" of the game. If I'm a coach (and I'm currently available as a quality control guru), I'm telling my players to do whatever it takes in those first three quarters.
This answer probably won't satisfy anyone, because officiating just isn't a passion subject for me. I believe the NFL is a fast-moving, complex game – and with 22 players playing a high-impact sport on a field so large, the game is simply impossible to perfectly officiate. If officials called everything to the letter of the rules, players and observers would complain about an over-officiated – and slow-moving – sport. That means officials always must be making some level of judgment on many, many calls. NFL officials are qualified, monitored and graded by the NFL office – and at the same time, they are judged weekly by passionate fan bases who tend to see calls for their team as routine and calls against their team as egregious examples of incompetence or conspiracy. I didn't love how the Super Bowl was officiated – and I thought the Cincinnati Bengals were hurt by some rough calls at the end of the game. I also thought they were helped by the early would-be pass offensive interference penalty that wasn't called. I believe overall officials do a good job and do so without bias, Super Bowl included.
_Steve from Nashville, TN _
Can you think of a Jaguar drafted player in recent memory who was selected based on raw talent and physical ability, but lacked the polish and technical skills at their position to contribute right away but later did outperform their draft position? Obviously if James Robinson was not an undrafted free agent he would be near the top of your list?
I can't think of a great example. Perhaps wide receiver Cecil Shorts III back in the early part of the 2010s – and linebacker Brandon Marshall, who had a nice career with the Denver Broncos after being a fifth-round selection by the Jaguars in the 2012 NFL Draft. I wouldn't put running back James Robinson in this category, though. He contributed immediately and was clearly ready for the NFL. He didn't lack polish or technical skills. What he lacked was speed, but that didn't prevent him from being really good.
Russell from Jacksonville
Like your column. Wished you did two a day. Anyway, I sure would like to hear your opinion on the command structure of the Jags in relation to who is really in charge. By this I mean, who has final say over draft picks? With all the good feelings happening, if coach wanted a certain player would general manager say no? Would he overrule and just select who he wanted or felt was a better "upside?" Would Trent risk alienating another coach?
This and most questions like this infer contentious meetings and hallway arguments between general manager and head coach, and that there are huge disagreements between parties about players who should and shouldn't be drafted. While disagreements occur, they are far more often discussed calmly with consensuses reached in rounds of draft meetings rather than fist-pounding arguments. Jaguars Head Coach Doug Pederson has made clear he doesn't want to run the personnel side of the organization, but that he wants input. While neither he nor General Manager Trent Baalke have discussed this in detail to my knowledge, Baalke likely would have "final say" – but with extensive discussion and eventual agreement with Pederson and high-ranking personnel officials.
Justin from Jax
Justin from Jax is a pretty smart guy. Maybe raising wages for officials would help, although six figures for a part-time gig isn't bad. Meanwhile, Mr. O writes an entertaining column each and every day with his wages. With Vegas getting involved, I'm intrigued to see if behavior changes. What I would like to see is transparency and accountability. Grade each official on performance and fire low performing officials. Do you know of any rules (written or unwritten) where an official misses a call and attempts to miss a call the other way?
The league long has reviewed and graded officials. There are rules to my knowledge about "makeup" calls, though human nature would suggest they happen on occasion.
Steve from Sunroom Couch
Dear John, "The Jaguars don't see their offensive line as weak." Maybe it will be improved with the addition of offensive guard Brandon Scherff, but from past results it appears the Jaguars are a bit visually challenged.
Many fans and observers believe the Jaguars' offensive line is weak. They have believed this for a while now. The team continues to not believe it is as weak as observers believe – and not necessarily weak at all. And the beat goes on.
Fred from Naples, FL
Is it possible the Jaguars' front office and left tackle Cam Robinson already have an agreement in principle already but will wait until after the draft to announce it because if they announce it now it will tip their hand of their plans in the draft?
Rob from Fleming island
I know Cam Robinson has been discussed at length, but can you enlighten the skeptical part of me? If Cam does not get a long-term deal established, doesn't he have the ability to not participate in training camp, etc., until the last moment and then collect his millions while playing like dirt?
Robinson has signed his tender, which means he can be fined for not reporting to training camp. If he happens not to agree to a long-term contract, he essentially would be in a contract year. Robinson isn't the sort of player to need motivation. If he were, the contract year would provide plenty.
Daniel from Jersey City, NJ
O-man, do you think fans will most likely celebrate or whine after our selections in this year's draft?