Let's get to it . . .
Richard from Atlantic Beach, FL:
I wouldn't expect a coaching hire until Monday – at the earliest. Maybe as late as the days after the Super Bowl, depending on how strongly Caldwell feels about certain candidates. Do you think he has a priority list of how long he could wait for each guy?
John: Yes, and considering the quality of assistants on the staffs playing this weekend, I don’t know that there is a great urgency to get a hire made this week. Greg Roman and Vic Fangio of the 49ers are considered quality candidates, as are Mike Nolan and Keith Armstrong from Atlanta. That’s four, and there are other quality candidates in the interview process this week. I don’t get a sense of panic that a coach hasn’t been hired yet, and there shouldn’t be worry. This will get done at its own pace.
Don from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL:
If Jones-Drew has the right attitude and wants to be here, the Jaguars need to give him a fair contract. He is a star when healthy. Stars are hard to find. You just do not throw a former NFL rushing champ out the door. He could become the Jaguars first Hall of Fame player, which would be cool! Of all the problems the team has, he is not one of them!
John: Jones-Drew has a fair contract. It’s the one he signed and the one that has a year remaining on it. No one ever has thrown him out the door, or even closed it on him, and considering there is a new general manager in the building and a new head coach on the way, there’s no reason to think the door will be closed this offseason. It appears Jones-Drew plans to attend the offseason and is looking forward to next season, and there’s no reason to think he’s going to be a problem this season. But to be fair, he wasn’t a problem last season. He played well early in the season, got hurt and couldn’t play the rest of the season. That hurt the team, but it happens in football.
John from Jacksonville:
How does the NFL police the interview process? What keeps Caldwell from sending an old college buddy a personal message regarding the coaching position? Or does the NFL only care about "formal" interviews at select locations?
John: It would be naïve to discount the possibility that Caldwell and Roman have discussed Roman someday being a head coach, and it would be naïve to think that Roman has given zero thought to the possibility of perhaps someday working with Caldwell. Could there have been a text in the last few weeks referencing as much? Sure, but when the NFL says interview process it indeed means formal meetings with permissions requested and granted. Roman is the offensive coordinator of the 49ers, a team that is playing in the NFC Championship game and there’s every reason to think that’s pretty much his total focus until their season is over.
Nick from Annapolis, MD:
I am surprised I haven't heard Koetter's name as a head coach candidate. I thought he did a fantastic job when he was here and has continued to impress in Atlanta. He is obviously familiar with Caldwell and would be very familiar with many of the players on the roster. Any chance Caldwell would want to steal Koetter from his former boss?
John: Koetter, in his first season as the Falcons’ offensive coordinator, re-signed with Atlanta early this month. That essentially took him off the market until the 2014 offseason.
Jordan from Jacksonville:
I once mistakenly read the comment section below your column. If that's any indication of what the rest of your inbox looks like, I'm sorry.
John: My inbox is indeed similar to the comments sections – a dark, depraved place devoid of reason and full of anger, disillusion and chaos. I sort of like it that way, actually. It keeps me from that pesky task of feeling good about the world around me.
Steve from Nashville, TN:
When will you stop saying "we are a long way from the draft?"
John: When we’re not.
Jesse from Awesomer:
Gabbert will be on his third offense in three years and his third head coach. He lost his first off season and his offensive line and receiver play wasn't great last two years, etc. I think fate wanted him to be a bust. Granted, he still should have been playing better by now, but not many can succeed in that kind of situation.
John: There is no doubt Gabbert has been dealt a difficult hand. He improved this season, though not enough to solidify himself as the starter. Now, he faces a situation where is essentially an unknown to both Caldwell and the new head coach. While no one making decisions around the Jaguars will have any emotional investment in Gabbert, it’s just as true that this situation gives Gabbert a fresh start. He’s still young and because he is talented, there’s a good chance he’ll get another NFL opportunity, quite likely in Jacksonville. It remains to be seen what he does with that.
Jason from Jacksonville:
The Catch. The Drive. These moments are famous not because we voted to name them, but because of their influence on the sport. Do you ever wish the NFL would stop trying to "force" more such moments and just let them happen?
John: Not really. You’re right that those moments and the names happen organically, but people trying to name them doesn’t bother me. There’s not really a name for Lynn Swann’s leaping, bobbling catch in Super Bowl X or for any of the notable plays that have won Super Bowls in recent years, but they seem to live in the memory just fine.
Bryan from Tampa, FL:
NFL coaches aren't naive and they have to know that in order to win consistently a team must have an above average quarterback. So, also knowing that a team's head coach will be judged on W's and L's and thus his fate being tied to the level of his quarterback, why would any head coach candidate go to a team that is QB deficient?
John: There are 32 NFL head coaching jobs. Guys work for them and dream of them for years, so when an opportunity comes to take one of them, they’re very hard to resist.
Andy from St. Johns, FL:
Tim Tebow is only 25 years old. No matter what his future holds (out of the league, CFL, Super Bowl Champion, league MVP) on a team outside Jacksonville, when are the questions going to stop? Age 30? Age 35? Age 40? Are you going to be answering O-Zone questions 20 years from now why the hometown team doesn't let a 45 year-old Tebow have a shot at the QB position in Training Camp, because he can still play and is a hometown hero?
John: The questions will never stop. Ever. Ever! EVER!
Bob from Jacksonville:
NFL people have not given Tebow a fair chance, nor will they, because of his outspoken Christianity. It's really that simple.
John: Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady could speak daily about worshiping the little green man who lives in their glove compartment and teams would print out shirts saying, “All Praise the Little Green Man.” If teams truly believed they could win a Super Bowl with Tebow at quarterback, he would get a chance. Rightly or wrongly, there hasn’t been a team yet that believed that.
Ed from Ponte Vedra, FL:
What do you think happened to the Texans? At the beginning of the season, they looked ready for the Super Bowl.
John: They couldn’t defend the pass and had trouble creating points passing. When you have to play the Patriots, that’s a difficult 1-2 combination to overcome.
Emily from Boulder, CO:
You said yesterday that, "it [the Patriots] became a powerhouse when it drafted Tom Brady." Let's not forget that Tom Brady was only an average quarterback when he won his first Super Bowl. He has since developed into one of the greatest quarterbacks of this era. New England had a lot more going right for it in that first Super Bowl, though.
John: The Patriots won a Super Bowl in Brady’s first season as a starter, and as you say, he was indeed average. But their ability to sustain success for a decade is based on having a franchise quarterback.
Jon from Southampton, UK:
I assume front office staff get some kind of accolade for winning the Super Bowl. So, if the Falcons won it, would Caldwell be considered a Super Bowl winning front office guy, or did he jump ship too soon?
John: I’m not sure who would be doing the considering, but he almost certainly would get a Super Bowl ring and his resume would say he was with the Falcons through 2012 and that he helped build a Super Bowl champion. Those are all the accolades you need in the NFL.