O-Zone: Crazy Place


Is a head coach’s relationship with the players or the other coaches more important? In other words, does a head coach’s ability to manage and lead their coaching staff deserve more weight when it comes to head coach candidates? This seems like something very difficult for outsiders to assess, but essential for long-term success.

I consider the ability to manage and relate to people to be the most important trait for an NFL head coach – far more important than Xs and Os, ability to play, motivational lyrics, appearance in a suit, his reputation, etc. I guess I would put the relationship of the head coach with the players slightly above that of the relationship with the assistant coaches in terms of importance, but not by much. It is the ability to relate to and manage people. Everybody. Assistant coaches. Players. Support staff. Media. Etc., etc. You’re right that it doesn’t get as much attention when people discuss head coaches as most other things. And that’s because it’s harder to discuss and analyze. But that’s the key. That doesn’t mean every NFL head coach has to approach and handle people the same way. But if you can’t do that effectively, you’ll struggle to succeed as an NFL head coach.

Stephen from Jacksonville via Pennsauken NJ

John, if (and when) Covid goes away, do you think the media will be allowed back into the locker room? As a fan, I want the media to get more direct quotes there and, more importantly, off-the-record commentary. I guess players and teams want you out so they have more control over “the story”. How do you see this happening?

That is yet to be determined – and there is no doubt that coverage from all types of media has suffered from a lack of locker room access since the onset of COVID-19. While the media is still talking to players via zoom and in group/podium settings, there are far fewer opportunities for one-on-one chat without so-called “open locker room” periods. This hurts the media covering the team as it is more difficult to get honest assessments in the less intimate podium access. It’s also rarer for the media to be able to turn off cameras and recorders and have “real” conversations with players. Such conversations sometimes produce “scoops” and “exclusives”. More often than not, this is simply a chance to speak more frankly and openly than happens in group settings – which can benefit both players and the media. Anyway, the cover is more sterile and much less intimate. I guess it’s not the end of the world for fans, but it erodes the quality of coverage. Do I think locker room access will return? I’m skeptical. Optimistic? Yes, but definitely skeptical.

Keep telling yourself that John, but the check’s already in the mail. Bill O’Brien will be the next head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars, and that’s a very bad thing.

It is a beautiful thing when the uninformed among us speak with the confidence of the well-informed. It’s not as always accurate, but it’s beautiful.

Culture, culture, culture. The most overused word in the NFL – and really, everywhere. Pete Prisco says the culture has to change, but isn’t that what former Jaguar head coach Urban Meyer did? What did former Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone do? What did former Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley do? Culture doesn’t change every few years – and if it does, then it really isn’t culture, is it? I don’t know… I ask.

The culture almost always changes with a new head coach in the NFL. For the best or for the worst. Culture change is not always positive. And a change in culture can be fleeting. Here’s the thing to remember about culture and “membership”. They are not “easy” to create, but most head coaches can create them. Maintaining them is difficult and almost always involves winning. Regularly.

Donny from Heathrow, Florida, section 38, day 2

Wow…the quest to criticize Jaguars owner Shad Khan doesn’t stop. Besides your specific point that Mr. Khan is doing his due diligence (as he should), the Jags are still ahead of any team with an HC vacancy. They have already interviewed three candidates with three more interviews scheduled for this week, they have satisfied the Rooney rule by interviewing minority candidates, and Mr Khan could make a decision at any time. The Las Vegas Raiders had their vacancy before the Jags but have yet to publicly announce they have interviewed anyone. The Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings, Chicago Bears, Denver Broncos and New York Giants just fired their head coaches this week and are just beginning their search. The Jags are still in the driver’s seat to hire their selection of coaches if it’s the right person…there’s nothing smart about what Mr. Khan is doing!

There is no need to rush. The Jaguars are a good position for a head coach. It’s a good job. There’s a potential franchise quarterback, the No. 1 overall selection in the 2022 NFL Draft, and a patient owner willing to spend. Don’t worry about being the first to hire a head coach. Don’t worry about having a “name” or a “hot” candidate. Worry about doing things right.

“If you want to build the roster well, you’ll have to build through the draft — and you also have to provide the accompanying time to develop to build that way.” I generally agree with that statement, but these are the Jaguars we’re talking about. We both know that drawing and developing are not their forte. I’d rather see Shad overpay for senior players in free agency.

Just because the Jaguars haven’t drafted and developed enough doesn’t mean it’s the wrong way to build a roster. And that in no way means they won’t do well in the future. And if the Jaguars take the “well, we’ve never done it well, we’ll try” approach, then there’s no way the franchise will ever improve. As for simply overpaying in free agency to fix all of the Jaguars’ problems, the same free agency caveat that has always applied still applies: you can overpay anything you want – and you will. certainly – but players available through free agent are usually flawed. and sometimes seriously. This is because teams value their own players and don’t want to let them go if they consider them elite. It’s just not the way to build.

Is there any truth to the rumor that the Culligan Girl is being interviewed for the head coaching job?

I have no idea what you are talking about.

I traditionally believe you should draft a high-end lineman (offense or defense) on WR, but the Cincinnati Bengals make me think a little differently now. Chase (Bengals) looks like the absolute best option over Sewell (Lions). We need weapons.

You make a good point, and there’s no doubt that the Bengals’ success this season after selecting wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase No. 5 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft will change the way of think league wide. While it was once commonly believed that a great offensive lineman trumped a great wide receiver in the draft, the dynamics of the modern NFL are at the very least causing league members to reconsider this. The issue in the 2022 NFL Draft may be whether there is a receiver worthy of selecting that tier. If a Chase-like receiver were available, the Jaguars could go in that direction. The first indications are that there is none. Stay tuned, I guess.

Ozone, is the linebacker too high to be picked at No. 1 overall? Alabama linebacker Will Anderson is a stud and was arguably the best defensive player in the nation this season. I just worry if we need more help up front and his skills duplicate Josh Allen.

The No. 1 is usually too early to select a linebacker. I expect the Jaguars to select a No. 1 overall offensive or defensive lineman in the 2022 NFL Draft because it’s not considered too strong of a quarterback draft — and the latter factor will make it difficult to trade the No. 1 pick. But hey… given that the draft isn’t considered great at the top, this could be a year where a “strange” position moves to No. 1. (Note Editor’s Note: Alabama linebacker Will Anderson Jr. just completed his true second season and is ineligible for the 2022 NFL Draft.)

I love how people accuse you of being an accomplice to the company because you’re not an accomplice to the fans. Then people throw in words like no integrity when they judge people for not agreeing with their opinion. We live in a dysfunctional myopic world. It is impossible to converse with people who already know everything.

The world is a crazy place. It is inhabited partly by crazy, sometimes irrational, always passionate people, called fans. These fans sometimes write this forum. Sometimes they say nice things. Sometimes they don’t. But thank God for them. They are rarely boring.

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