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The fun begins

Let's get to it . . . Buddy from Jacksonville:
What's your take on the coaching candidates announced Monday?
John: First off, there haven't been any coaching candidates announced, nor will there be. Club policy is such that the team won't announce candidates and we won't write stories officially declaring coaches candidates on, but we will continue the discussion here in the O-Zone. Reports on Monday mentioned the Jaguars requesting permission to interview Brian Schottenheimer (New York Jets offensive coordinator), Mike Mularkey (Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator), Rob Chudzinksi (Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator), Mike McCoy (Denver Broncos offensive coordinator) and Bill O'Brien (New England Patriots offensive coordinator). It also has been reported that Dallas Cowboys special teams coach Joe DeCamillis will be a candidate. Including Jaguars interim coach Mel Tucker, that's seven candidates. Mularkey is 50, and is the only aforementioned candidate with NFL head coaching experience – that coming with Buffalo in 2003-2004. He has been in Atlanta since 2008 as offensive coordinator working with Matt Ryan. Chudzinski, 43, coached Carolina to a No. 7 ranking in total offense a year after they finished last in the category. He worked as the Chargers' wide receivers coach before joining the Panthers this season. He's hot because he worked with rookie quarterback Cam Newton this season. We'll get more into Schottenheimer, 38, in the next question. McCoy, 39, has been the Denver Broncos' offensive coordinator the last three years and boy, wouldn't that get some talk started? O'Brien is 42, and is reportedly a strong candidate at Penn State. He has been the Patriots' quarterbacks coach the past three seasons and this is his first season as coordinator. DeCamillis, 46, was the Jaguars' special teams coach from 2007-2008. It was obviously quite a day on that front Monday, and there's a lot to sort through. It's clear the Jaguars seem to be moving quickly, and that's one advantage of having fired Jack Del Rio five weeks ago. It's also clear there's an early emphasis on offense in the mix, with many of the aforementioned having worked successfully with young quarterbacks. I don't know that there's a favorite, but it's going to be a fascinating next few days. The fun and speculation have officially begun. Ask questions. I'll answer best I can.
GPP from Savannah, GA:
You have got to be kidding me! Are we really going to interview Schottenheimer from a horribly weak offensive team? He has done such a superb job with Sanchez, I'm sure he can do wonders with Gabbert! Get real. That will not sell tickets or bring a winning team.
John: Don't get overly anxious about the ranking of the offense or defense of a given candidate. Often, there are circumstances beyond the control of any candidate. Mel Tucker, for example, was the coordinator of the 29th-ranked defense last year and once circumstances changed, he became the coordinator of the sixth-ranked defense – and is now a viable head coaching candidate. You interview and choose a head coach based on the guy's ability as a head coach, and often that has little to do with the success of his offense or defense. Schottenheimer is considered by many a head coaching candidate, and while the Jets struggled at times this season, Jets General Manager Mike Tannebaum said Monday the Jets want him back as coordinator next season if he isn't a head coach somewhere.
Steve from Nashville, TN:
In the Texans -Titans game the botched snap on the two-point conversion was blown dead. Why couldn't the Titans pick the ball up and run it back for two points?
John: You can do that in college. You cannot do it in the NFL.
Nathan from Springville, UT:
In regards to your response to Michael from Kentwood, THANK YOU! I know you didn't say this, but Peyton Manning is arguably the best quarterback to play the game. People are missing the point, that is, we should want the Colts to start ANY quarterback besides Manning.
John: That's the danger of projection. Because he likely will be selected No. 1 and because he has received very positive reviews and because people say he could be very, very good, there is an assumption that Luck is the next Peyton Manning. Maybe he will be. Maybe he will be better. But the chances of any quarterback playing at the level Manning did for the 12 consecutive years is absurdly low because an absurdly low number of quarterbacks ever have done it.
Tim from Riverview, FL:
I know it's a little early to look to next season but, who are the teams that Jacksonville will face in 2012?
John: The opponents are known, with dates and times to be determined. Away: Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Tennessee Titans, Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, Oakland Raiders, Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings. Home: Texans, Colts, Titans, New England Patriots, New York Jets, Cincinnati Bengals, Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions. Yes, it's a pretty difficult schedule. That's how it's supposed to be. It's the NFL.
Joe from Jacksonville:
I am really glad we won Sunday. I know a majority of fans wanted us to lose to get a high draft pick. I was thinking it would been somewhat funny if we had lost yesterday like a majority wanted, and then went out in this year's draft and traded away our draft pick to recoup value and get the guy we wanted later in the round. I bet our fans would have had a cow. What do you think O-Man?
John: Humorous or not, your e-mail points out the flaw of losing on purpose at the end of the season. You never know what draft day will bring, and you certainly don't know it three and a half months beforehand.
Mike from the Bronx, NY:
Anybody who booed Gene Smith clearly hasn't been paying attention to how much he's improved this team. He inherited an old, declining roster and turned it into a young, rising one in just three years. He deserves to be applauded more than anyone within the organization right now.
John: You are correct, but it's a difficult situation for fans. It's easy to see a 5-11 record after 7-9 and 8-8 and perceive the team as going the wrong direction. The truth is what you say – that the Jaguars' roster now is younger and moving in a positive direction. If you keep trying to short-term fix an aging roster you might maintain where you are but never make significant improvements. If you make long-term changes, you're liable to take a step backward in terms of record before taking the significant step forward.
Scott from the Bronx, NY:
It looked like we had three defensive tackles in the game at several times Sunday, with Tyson lining up as an end. Do you think that's something we can expect to see more of next year or just a bi-product of injuries? The extra beef seemed to work very well.
John: You may see it in spots, but for the most part it was because of injuries at end. Alualu's greatest value to the Jaguars is at tackle, where he and Terrance Knighton have shown in the last two seasons that they are capable of shutting down the opponent's interior running game.
James from Destin, FL:
Could you try to weed out the Luck questions? I don't understand why so many believe he is that good. There is not a quarterback that is unbeatable. No disrespect, we have beaten Manning, Little Ben, Brady, etc. Heck, Luck did not even win the Heisman. It seems that some so-called fans are going to complain no matter what.
John: I, too, have realized there has been a steady streak of Luck in the O-Zone. The reason is I try to respond at least somewhat based on the number of questions I receive. Luck has been a constant topic because of the Colts being the opponent in the regular-season finale. I imagine that will somewhat drop off between now and the draft and the focus will be where it belongs: on what the Jaguars will do with the seventh overall selection.
Cameron from Jacksonville:
Can you please explain to me why these people wanted us to lose? Even if the Rams had the first pick they would not have gone for Luck because they have Bradford.
John: No, but in that scenario some team likely would have traded up with the Rams to get Luck. Ironically, that scenario likely would have resulted in the Colts selecting RGIII, the players for whom Jaguars fans are now clamoring.
Tyler from Neptune Beach, FL:
Why doesn't Daryl Smith get the recognition he deserves around the league? He's easily a top 10 linebacker, but outside of Jag fans, nobody knows who he is.
John: Being in a small market doesn't help Smith, obviously, but the main reason is that Smith isn't a huge sacks guy because he is a 4-3 outside linebacker. Most high-profile linebackers play in a 3-4 and therefore are more pass rushers than 4-3 linebackers are.
Eder from Jacksonville:
I see a very good corner in Kevin Rutland – a big hit for a non-drafted guy. What is your opinion on him?
John: Rutland is exactly what you hope for from a free-agent rookie. He played well when needed this season, and certainly is a capable reserve corner for the short-term. Is he a player who can develop into a long-term answer at the spot? That remains to be seen, but he had a productive rookie season.
Keith from Palatka, FL:
Good job this year, John. Take some time off, it is well deserved.
John: No way. No how. The next few weeks I anticipate being as busy and pertinent as ever. As my old boss at the Florida Times-Union, Mike Richey, used to say, "We got neeeeeews."

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