Let's get to it . . .
Stirling from Sydney, Australia:
If Mel Tucker doesn't get the head coaching job, will he slot straight back into the defensive coordinator role? Or is that not how the NFL works?
John: If Tucker doesn't get the head coaching job, it's uncertain what would happen next. It's very possible the person named head coach would want Tucker and at least part of the defensive staff to remain with the Jaguars. The play of the defense this season certainly merited such consideration – though with the contracts of those assistants running out at the end of January, they would be under no contractual obligation to stay. The question for Tucker in that scenario would be whether he thought Jacksonville the best situation for him, or – if he were a candidate somewhere else – if he thought another situation would be better. There are a lot of unknowns. That's the nature of the situation.
Stanton from Jacksonville:
When a head coach's contract comes up and the current team wants to keep him, do other teams out of respect typically not sign him away?
John: Absolutely not. Teams typically re-sign head coaches they want to keep before the issue arises.
James from Grand Ridge:
With the mention that New England Offensive Coordinator Bill O'Brien is a candidate to interview for the Jaguars head coaching job, I have a question for you. In your opinion shouldn't they be a bit leery of Patriot assistants and their track record as head coaches? Look at Weis (Notre Dame), Mangini, Crennel and McDaniels.
John: I look at the hiring process differently than a lot of people. Most media and fans take the coaching "tree" approach, meaning they automatically project success or failure based on a coach's association with another head coach. My experience is that's not always fair. You don't select a coach based on what others with whom he once worked did. You select him because you feel he's the right person for the job. If O'Brien can coach – if he is a leader, if he can establish a culture in the building, if he can compile a solid staff – I don't care if his last job was cutting my lawn; that's the guy I want.
Kevin from Jacksonville:
I'm happy with Gene Smith, and tired of all the bashing I've been hearing. I'm fairly certain, though, that a 5-11 finish next season would be the end of his reign. What do you think has to happen for the fans to warm up to Gene? Is it playoffs or bust?
John: In terms of fans warming up to Gene, yes, it's significant improvement or bust. I think everyone has a pretty firm grasp of that.
Kevin from Jacksonville:
I'd like to be the first to welcome you to the Shad Khan era.
John: Thank you. Pleasure to be here.
Steve from Atlanta, GA:
How much will having to learn a new offensive scheme affect Gabbert? Will this prevent him from making the strides in Year Two we are all hoping for? It certainly can't be the ideal situation for the kid.
John: Is it ideal? No. Ideal would have been having Gabbert come into a situation with a long-term head coach, coordinator, quarterbacks coach, wide receivers coach and offensive line coach – and with a trio of Pro Bowl receivers with a rock-solid, pass-protecting offensive line. Obviously, that didn't happen. Now, the best thing for Gabbert is to begin working with the new head coach, coordinator, quarterbacks coach, wide receivers coach and offensive line coach as quickly as possible, and start where ideally he would have started last season. He has the benefit of knowing what he needs to work on, and the benefit of a season of experience. That should help the learning curve.
Jerry from Tamarac, FL:
Last season, whether forced or not, I liked having the free agency period after the NFL draft. To me it allows your team to really draft the best available player and gives you the opportunity to know what needs weren't covered. Do you believe GMs would rather it to be this year as well? What are your thoughts?
John: I'm not sure it matters a great deal to general managers which comes first. If you draft first, you can sign players to fill needs. If you sign free agents first, you're free to draft best available player. Overall, I think general managers prefer free agency in March because it allows free agents to join the team early in the off-season and therefore to get acclimated to the team, coaches, system and surroundings.
Rob from Green Cove Springs, FL:
Gabbert's pass into the dirt during the second half of Sunday's game would have been the correct thing for him to do to avoid a sack had there been a defender in his immediate area that couldn't be avoided. That wasn't the case, and those fans that booed (including myself) would have really liked to have seen him shift in the pocket, if needed, and buy a few more seconds for a receiver to break open. This cuts the heart of Gabbert's problem (and it's a big problem). Hopefully it's something that can be focused on during the offseason and training camp because he has the other tools needed to succeed.
John: You have the right to be wrong, and in this case, you're wrong. The play on which he was booed was a screen pass and as interim coach Mel Tucker said Tuesday, Gabbert is coached that if the play is not there, to throw it into the ground. On that play, he did as he was coached – that's important to remember. On the play, there was no reason to shift in the pocket, because offensive linemen would have been downfield and there would have been a penalty. Gabbert was hardly without fault in the pocket this season, but a lot of the perceived problems came on plays like this, which is why coaches and a lot of others who study Gabbert will tell you there's a disconnect in some cases between the perception of him and the reality.
Bryan from Jacksonville:
I find it amusing that so many fans are on a Gene Smith rampage. How soon they forget that when he took over the team was in a STEEP and sudden decline. Both lines were in sad shape and we had a defense with the lowest amount of sacks in NFL history. Back then everyone was going, 'We need defense.' Just last year everyone was going, 'We need a QB' and guess what?' We got one. Gene has built the core of this team and now it is time to add the extras. If you were to think of it as building a house the fans want to hang pictures on the wall first but Gene knows you have to put in the plumbing and foundation before you go buying wall paper.
John: That's pretty much the gist of it.
Manuel from Jacksonville:
Let's assume for a moment that Giants Head Coach Tom Coughlin is fired and is available to the Jaguars. Do you think it will be a good hire provided he'll handle only coaching?
John: Of course it would. Coughlin's a perfect head coach because he brings discipline, experience and a level of expectation to the situation. I covered Coughlin's teams from 1995-2000 here, so I saw what he can do and believe him one of the more underrated coaches in the NFL. I can't see him coming back, mainly because I can't imagine him coaching again after the Giants.
John from Gloucestershire, England:
"We're a tough physical football team. We like to run the ball. That's who we are." All quotes heard from Jack Del Rio this past season. Result, a record number of players on IR, more concussions and a team decimated by injury. Contrast that with the teams that have a strong passing game – Green Bay, New Orleans, New England, Pittsburgh-fewer injuries and regular participants in the post-season. Isn't it time to change direction to protect and preserve the players?
John: I get the point, but the facts don't jibe. Yes, the Jaguars were a physical, running team on offense, but aside from a knee injury to Rashad Jennings and a back injury to Eben Britton, most of the injuries offensively were pretty standard NFL stuff. Marcedes Lewis missed a game, and Eugene Monroe missed one early in the season, but that's hardly out of the ordinary. The vast majority of the Jaguars' injuries came on defense, and while I'm a passing-game guy on offense, that doesn't mean I advocate anything but being physical, aggressive and attacking on defense. You have to make contact to play defense, whatever the rules, and injuries come with contact.
Buddy from Jacksonville:
Every time you turn around it seems some Talking Head is saying Jacksonville is a bad job. What's your take, O'Man?
John: My take is that that's about as ridiculous and thinly-studied a theory as I can imagine. If you listened to anything Shahid Khan said Wednesday on his first day on the job it was clear no one he's talking to considers Jacksonville a bad job. And why would they? There's a new owner, the franchise is in Florida, for goodness' sake, and here's the biggest thing: it's in the NFL. It's one of 32 teams. There's no such thing as a bad job. The perception out there is silly, and my guess is that in a year or two people will look at Jacksonville far differently and you won't be able to find many people willing to admit they were saying these things now.
Jeff from Myrtle Beach, SC:
With the release of a BRUTAL 2012 schedule, I can't see any coaches wanting to come here. I think Tucker gets it by default. What can we do, 2-14 or 3-13 at best. Don't get me wrong, I am a Jags fan, but realistically?
John: Come by the office Friday. I'll bring my dog. You can kick him, too.
You have to make contact
Let's get to it . . .
Stirling from Sydney, Australia: