O Zone: Get Through

JACKSONVILLE – Let’s get down to business…

Daniel from Vero Beach, FL

Has the Jaguars’ coaching quest really boiled down to throwing darts at the wall with a list of names? I hope there is someone who has a better plan than what is happening right now. Who does owner Shad Khan listen to when he needs advice and feedback on the visuals of what the Jaguars are doing? A concerned fan.

I’ve received many, many – MANY – versions of this email over the past few days, which makes sense. As I’ve written many times over the past few days, it’s understandable that fans don’t like/hate/concern the ongoing search for a Jaguars head coach; It’s been widely scrutinized and criticized in the media — and it’s lasted longer, with more reported twists and turns, than many other searches for NFL head coaches this offseason. These circumstances have helped send Jaguar’s nation into a frenzy. But while that’s true, these things are about perception – and perception doesn’t always equal reality. And a long search for head coaching does not have to be unsuccessful. The Jaguars reportedly interviewed former interim Las Vegas head coach Rich Bisaccia for the head coaching position on Monday, and there are multiple reports that the team is hiring Los Angeles Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell for the position considering. These are indeed new names in the process. I also have the idea that Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich remains an option. There were reports Monday that former Indianapolis Colts/Detroit Lions head coach Jim Caldwell remains a possibility, and there was also a report Monday that the team was interviewing former Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson a second time will. I can’t speak to Khan’s “optics” views; I know NFL owners can’t make coaching and hiring decisions based on fan feedback — no matter how passionate that feedback is. All I’ve heard about all five of these coaches is that they would be excellent candidates. The speculation about this process and the accompanying criticism were loud. That is understandable. And why shouldn’t it be? But there’s nothing to suggest the Jaguars can’t pull it off just yet. That remains the goal and remains very possible.

If Mr. Khan really cares about winning, which I don’t think he does, why is Baalke still employed? He has a terrible track record in the league. If Khan keeps him with him he will assure us fans that he doesn’t care and doesn’t know what he’s doing.

I’ve also received many, many emails along these lines over the past few days – and again, that makes sense. Reports, speculation and Twitter outcry regarding Jaguars General Manager Trent Baalke reached near deafening heights a long time ago – and I’m not sure I’ve ever heard Jaguars fans scream so loudly. I understand the fans perception by Balke. But Khan has so far done nothing to indicate that he agrees with this perception. I’m not sure how Khan feels about Baalke. But taking Khan keeping Baalke as a sign that he doesn’t care about winning is categorically wrong. He does. The fact that he is not doing what many fans want in this case proves nothing else.

Bruce from Green Cove Springs, FL

At the risk of sounding cynical, the search for a head coach seems to boil down to who is willing to work with Baalke. According to reports (rumours), Baalke initially pushed for Indianapolis Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus; now that Eberflus has gone to Chicago, Baalke seems to be pushing for O’Connell. Crowd favorite Leftwich wants the Jaguars to hire Adrian Wilson — the Arizona Cardinals’ vice president of professional scouting — for the Jaguars’ general manager position. Leftwich (rumored again) is one of many who won’t be working with/for Baalke. I know Khan is loyal, but if he stays with Baalke, doesn’t that narrow down the list of qualified – and willing – candidates significantly?

These are common beliefs and this is a common theory. A lot of media has reported about it and a lot of fans believe it. Maybe it’s all true. I’m not smart enough to know if that’s true.

The Jags’ offense lost to wide receiver DJ Chark Jr., running back James Robinson, running back Travis Etienne Jr., wide receiver Jamal Agnew and tight end Dan Arnold. Without changing anything else, if these players come back healthy, can’t one assume that offense will be a little bit better?

These healthy players would help. Additional groundbreaking speed and dynamic play on the outside are still needed. Chark would provide an element of it. I don’t know if his return alone would be enough.

Tim from Oklahoma City, okay

Jags fans really feel entitled. I know it sucks that we’ve always been at the bottom of the rankings. But the Cincinnati Bengals hadn’t won a single playoff game since the Jaguars were even a team prior to this year. Same with the Detroit Lions. Let’s just put a few things into perspective.

Where’s the fun in that?

Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated suggested in a recent article that Trevor Lawrence should start thinking about soliciting a trade since the Jaguars’ organization, and particularly the disjointed search for a head coach, was so dysfunctional. I wouldn’t blame Trevor.

Breer is more than welcome to speak his mind. I don’t expect Jaguars rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence to request or demand a trade.

_Kyan from LeMars, IA_

To have a head start on the coaching process and still have no plan or idea who will coach the Jaguars is a complete failure. The Senior Bowl starts this week and we don’t have a head coach. How is that possible?

Several NFL teams currently do not have a head coach. Yes, the Jaguars have to get this right. Yes, it took longer than expected. But not having a coach this week is not a massive competitive disadvantage.

Josh R. of Fernandina Beach (via Fort Lauderdale)

JZ: Well, we’re picking overall number one in the upcoming draft. Of course, this isn’t a resounding endorsement of the quality of the 2021 season. But to complain about the prospect of adding a top-notch edge rusher or offensive lineman to the Jags roster simply because that player might not be generational talent seems a bit silly. I expect these complaints to be filed in the fans-become-fan file, but still. A few offseason upgrades and an uptick for this franchise should be fun. Thank you and go JAGS!!

I haven’t seen or heard anything to suggest that the Jaguars can’t put a frontline player in a prime position with the #1 pick overall in the 2022 NFL Draft. If they do, it’s a successful design.

After years of believing that the team would get better – and believing that faith was met with disappointment time and time again, I made a decision. I’m out. Until Khan puts together a team that sets a winning record, I’m out. This dysfunctional organization has pushed me past the point of anger and frustration to the point of indifference. Wake me up when the winning starts I’m done.

This is fair. The Jaguars are at a low point. They’ve lost enough and made enough mistakes in recent seasons that some fans will think so. It’s up to the Jaguars to be successful on the field and change that. That’s the task. It’s past time.

Hello Zone, my personal opinion is that Khan has lost his credibility with the fans of this team. I mean, year after year, the awkwardness on and off the field is a bit much. When do you think the league will step in and assign the Khans adviser to football operations?

I don’t remotely expect this to happen.

During this whole process there was no official communication from the Jaguars; For example, some other teams have announced manager interviews on social media. I understand not doing that, but with so much rumour, speculation, leaks and fan unrest, it seems like a statement or something public would help. Assuring fans “we have a plan, and it’s not just GM Trent Baalke desperately trying to find a warm body willing to work with him” would be a smart move, true or not . Do not you agree?

The team will publicly announce when the team will hire a head coach and determine its decision-making structure. Some teams make interviews and the process public; some teams don’t. Since it is my job to write and discuss these proceedings, my personal preference would be to release the information immediately. I also know from experience that just because these things don’t get published doesn’t mean wrong decisions are made. Fan fears about this will quickly fade when an announcement is made. It will fade even faster as the new head coach wins games.

Gary from St. Augustine, FL

I’m just a guy getting by

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