Let's get to it . . .
Tony from Grangeville:
John, I really want to be skeptical about our new head coach, but damn, his energy and attitude are infectious!
John: Fight that urge. There’s no reason to be skeptical about this hire. I’m not here to say that Gus Bradley is Vince Lombardi/Chuck Noll/Bill Walsh rolled into one. No one knows if that’s the case yet or not, but he’s well-respected and he’s generally considered to be a capable young coach. He has a track record of success and also is said to be a leader of men. All of that means he’s qualified to be the Jaguars’ head coach. If you couple that with the enthusiasm, energy and excitement he brings, that means he’s as good a hire as you can have. None of that guarantees success, because nothing guarantees success, but is it reasonable to be excited? Absolutely. This is the NFL. Relax. Be excited. Have some fun.
Andrew from Orange Park, FL:
I'm not sure about the Bob Babich hire as the defensive coordinator. Not because he's not a big name, but because of his track record when he was the Bears’ defensive coordinator. They were mediocre, for the most part, and they were underperforming so much that he was demoted. Shouldn't that be a big red flag when searching for a coordinator?
John: It could be. The other side of the argument is the NFL is a very cyclical thing. Mel Tucker was a hero to Jaguars fans this time last year and a villain following this season. Was he a better coach last year compared to this year or did circumstances change? The Bears were 28th, 12th and 16th in total defense during his time there as defensive coordinator, but it sounds as if Gus Bradley is going to be very involved with the defense. That means they probably will be running a different scheme than they ran in Chicago and the players will obviously be different, too. Here’s the reality: when it comes to coordinators, you’re not going to get the “hot” name, and you’re not going to get a guy whose defense ranked first in the NFL. Those guys have jobs. You have to hire someone you trust, believe you’re putting him in a situation to succeed, then work as a staff to ensure you have the best chance to win.
Keith from Benedict, MD:
Help me out with the Jedd hire for OC from Miami... not very familiar with him???
John: You’re talking about Jedd Fisch. He worked with Bradley in Seattle as quarterbacks coach in 2010, then spent the last two years as coordinator at the University of Miami. He has been in the NFL nine seasons, working with Denver’s wide receivers in 2008, working as an assistant with the Ravens from 2004-2007 and working with Houston three years before that. He seems to have taken a pretty steady path to NFL coordinator, spending time as a position coach in the NFL before becoming a college coordinator. Realistically, you have three ways to go in the NFL when hiring a coordinator – hire an out-of-work coordinator or head coach, hire a coach from college or hire an assistant from your team or another team and elevate him to coordinator. Fisch’s career arch isn’t unusual. The Jaguars went the route last season of having five former coordinators on staff and no one would say that was a success. This is a different route. We’ll see where it leads.
Tommy from Jacksonville:
O-man, I had written in a while ago suggesting that Mr. Khan should blow up the whole thing. As an engineer myself,f I know that sometimes you have to go back to Square One to get things right. I guess great minds think alike?
John: So, you were the one who wanted everyone fired. Come in here off that limb.
Ross from Jacksonville:
Injuries have destroyed this team the last couple of seasons, but these injuries seem to only be mentioned as one of many excuses for the team’s poor performance (era of excuses is over now that Mularkey is gone). I never hear anyone talking about finding a solution to this injury problem. There must be something wrong with our strength-and-conditioning program. Plus, I see several players at local bars every weekend during the season! Strength and CONDITIONING!!!!!!
John: Players go out. They’re young and it’s what many young men do. Players get hurt, too. People want to blame injuries on something, and it’s easy to blame strength and conditioning, but the NFL is a violent game. There’s only so much strengthening can do to keep players healthy.
Nick from Annapolis, MD:
To continue on the goal-oriented path, I am pretty sure philosophy was a huge criterion in hiring Caldwell and in turn, hiring Bradley. All three have that same belief that no matter where you are at or where you have to go, it’s about getting better every day, every practice, every opportunity. I buy into that philosophy as well. All you can really control is the effort and focus and determination to improve and maximize on your potential. Do that and everything else will come. I love it.
John: I always wondered why I never maximized my potential.
Jesse from Oceanside, CA:
Do you feel J. Blackmon is more of a Jimmy Smith- or K. McCardell-type receiver?
John: Neither. Blackmon isn’t as fast as Smith, so I don’t know that he’ll be the downfield, consistent big-play threat as Smith was. He also isn’t quite the precise route-runner that McCardell was. Yet. I’d put him somewhere between Smith and McCardell, sort of. Blackmon will need to improve as a route runner to be a consistent 1,000-yard receiver, and if he does, he has a chance to be a special combination of hands, body control and playmaking ability. He showed signs of moving in that direction this season and that’s a huge positive for the Jaguars.
Chip from Key West, FL:
So O-Man what do you think? How different is this compared to last year when a new head coach was introduced?
John: It’s different. No doubt. Last year, a familiar general manager was introducing a head coach with a calm, subdued demeanor. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that so long as you can inspire and lead in another way. Sometimes, the approach Mike Mularkey took works. It didn’t here, and when it doesn’t work, that way is remembered negatively and painted as the “wrong” way. This year, Shad Khan took the opposite approach, hiring a new general manager who in turn hired a fiery, dynamic coach. As has been noted often since the hire, enthusiasm by itself is just enthusiasm. The job must get done to accompany the energy, and we’ll see if the job gets done. But if you’re asking me if it’s different – yes. No question.
Goldy from Jacksonville:
A 12-hour Interview? Seriously? What do you even talk about for that long?
Mike from Green Cove Springs, FL:
John, if your TV won't be your friend, I'll be your friend as long as you buy.
John: I don’t buy my friends. I bought my television, so there’s no need.
Richmond from Jacksonville:
How much of this upcoming draft will be the work of the scouts currently in place and how much of it will be that of Dave Caldwell?
John: It will be a mix, and really, it probably won’t be possible to break it down into percentages. The scouts will do their jobs, which is to gather information and data on college players across the country. The general manager will then determine a plan for acquiring players and piecing together the roster, using the information to make those decisions. There also are a lot of questions about whether Caldwell will keep the current staff long-term. That remains to be seen, but I’d expect few changes until after the draft in late April.
Sean from Toms River, NJ:
How much does fire, passion and a will to succeed matter in the NFL? I'm sure that in every front office and coaching staff and roster there's a consensus that everyone wants to win. But how much does that refusal to lose actually matter? It seems to me that if you really want it, and you work harder than everyone else, you'll eventually see results. Of course you need talent as well.
John: Fire is great. Passion and will are, too. But I don’t really believe in general that it’s possible to win in the NFL simply through hard work. You must work hard, that is true, but mostly you have to work smart, structure your organization, have good players, have good communication so that everyone understands the system, then have good people in place to run the team. Oh yeah, and have a quarterback. The latter pretty much trumps all of the formers.
Jason from Zumbrota, MN:
It is an amazing feeling having the team I have cheered for all of my life have a head coach from my hometown! Now I have yet another reason to be excited for next season! We are all very proud of you, Gus, and there is much support in SE MN for this to be successful!
John: Zumbotra!!!!! Say it by trilling the R. Zumbotrrrrrra. It’s not how you pronounce it, but goodness, is it fun.