Each week during this year's season, Jaguar Report will take Jacksonville Jaguars-related questions from our readers across social media and answer them in a question-and-answer format, giving readers a chance to have their voices heard.
In this week's mailbag, we take a look at the state of the Jaguars' coaching search, who the ideal pieces moving forward are, and more.
Q: Who do you think the favorite is to be the next Jaguars head coach?? Byron Leftwich, right??
A: I think if there was a "short list" today it would look like this: Leftwich, then Nathaniel Hackett, then Matt Eberflus. I do not think Jim Caldwell is going to be granted a second interview, while Doug Pederson's name hasn't exactly been on fire in terms of the media rumor mill in recent weeks. I think it is going to be Leftwich, but Hackett wouldn't surprise me.
Q: If indeed the solution is Baalke/OBrien, what can we expect? What’s the plan of attack in the draft and all this FA money? These two have failed miserably in previous chances to build a team, why do they deserve the opportunity again?
A: It won't be. After there was genuine momentum for Bill O'Brien at the start of last week (I considered him the strong favorite last Monday), that has all but come to a complete and utter fizzle. If O'Brien has a job in the NFL next year, I am confident in saying it won't be as the Jaguars head coach.
With that said, the last part of your question is important. To ask why each would deserve the chance to lead the Jaguars is fair, especially so in Baalke's case. But these are the simple workings of the power games and behind the scenes politicking that goes on in the NFL. Baalke was looking for a lifeline, and he saw O'Brien as his. That doesn't mean either is qualified for the job, but that is why I believe O'Brien got the interview. Not because he deserves it, but because that is the function of the Jaguars' current dynamic.
Q: Is there a contract in the league with a cash-strapped team worth purchasing (a la Osweiler) in exchange for a top draft pick? Maybe someone on the Giants? We have so much space but players worthy of this much money just don’t hit free agency anymore. It feels like every year we ogle the top FAs and they always get tagged and we always carry over more unspent money. So, put it to use and buy some more early picks.
A: The Giants is interesting because I genuinely could see Kenny Golladay being dealt in a move like Brock Osweiler's. Golladay signed a four-year, $72 million deal last offseason for $40 million in guarantees and his cap hit leaps all the way up to $21,150,000 next season. After a nightmarish first season with the Giants (37 catches for 521 yards and zero touchdowns) that saw the head coach and general manager who signed him fired, there is a legitimate reason to believe the Giants would be better off shipping Golladay elsewhere.
With that said, I don't expect the Jaguars to do anything of the sort. The Jaguars will once again carry over among the most money in the league after they didn't spend large chunks of their gap space last season. While it would make sense to sell cash for picks, the Jaguars' front office as it stands today simply doesn't operate like that.
Q: What’s the most you’d be willing to give up for Calvin Ridley if he’s 100 percent ready to move forward on the field? Do you think the Jags will be in the race for him?
A: I would give up a second-rounder and a mid-round pick for a ready to play Calvin Ridley. For the Falcons specifically, I would also throw in K'Lavon Chaisson to give him a change of scenery and to give them a former first-rounder to try to salvage their pass rush. With that said, I think it would be more likely for the Jaguars to look into players such as Amari Cooper or D.K. Metcalf in the upcoming offseason if either is made available. While Ridley is the best player of these three in my eyes, Cooper and Metcalf likely do carry less risk from a team perspective.
Q: 3 players (plausible signings) the Jags should definitely try to sign in free agency, no matter what cost
A: These are the three I keep coming back to. Washington interior offensive lineman Brandon Scherff, Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Mike Williams, and Carolina Panthers edge defender Haason Reddick.
The Jaguars have both of their starting guards from the previous four seasons entering free agency this offseason in Andrew Norwell and A.J. Cann. Meanwhile, 2020 draft pick Ben Bartch had an up-and-down 2021 season that made it tougher to consider him in a starting role next season. Scherff is an ideal starting guard due to his balance as a run-blocker and pass-protector, even if he has faced injuries in recent seasons.
Mike Williams, meanwhile, seems like an ideal fit for Trevor Lawrence's skill set, even if he isn't the speedy deep threat the Jaguars offense is truly missing. Williams plays with a true "my ball" mindset that shows up over and over again each week. Simply get the ball near him, and he comes down with it. Lawrence can work with that, just as Justin Herbert has.
I think Haason Reddick is a bit of a wild card due to the fact that he won't fit every scheme, but he is an explosive and play-making edge rusher for a defense that doesn't have much explosiveness or play-making at the edge rusher position.
Q: If Leftwich is hired, what do you think the GM situation is?
A: I think he would bring in his own general manager. I am not entirely sure on who his choices would be, though there are a number of candidates both in Arizona and Tampa Bay who make sense. Some guys whose names I would watch: Cardinals Director of Player Personnel Dru Grigson, Cardinals Vice President of Player Personnel Adrian Wilson, Tampa Bay Director of Football Operations Shelton Quarles, and Tampa Bay Director of College Scouting Mike Biehl.
Q: How likely is it that DJ Chark re-signs?
A: I would put it close to 50/50. There are plenty of reasons for the Jaguars to want DJ Chark back despite his injuries and disappointing production over the last two years. Namely the fact that he has proven he can be a lethal deep threat and vertical speed option for a Jaguars' team that doesn't currently have many options in that regard.
With that said, Chark likely could find a better deal on the open market than he would in Jacksonville, and it would give him a new change of scenery after several down years by the franchise. Say Green Bay or the Chargers make Chark an offer similar to Jacksonville's -- what reason is there for Chark to not take it?
Q: At this point, if it’s not Leftwich, I think a lot of us will be upset. But let’s say it’s not him, does the playoff game from Kellen Moore change your opinion of him?
A: I don't think so, but that is also because I am a firm believer in trusting sample sizes. Kellen Moore's several years of successful play-calling for Cowboys' offense isn't erased by one bad game against the 49ers. With that said, there were some concerning tendencies that Moore's offenses have displayed in the past. They funnel everything to the middle of the field and ask for Dak Prescott to largely put the offense on his shoulders, rarely giving him easy throws and scheming things up for him like other top coordinators do. He is still a good coach, but there are red flags that existed before last weekend that showed up again.
Q: What do you think Trevor's number one offseason training priority should be?
A: Simply working on his touch, especially in the red-zone. I thought Lawrence did the little things well in 2021 and you can walk away from the season pleased with his mechanics, pocket movement, and ability to read defenses. But if there is one thing Lawrence struggled mightily with as a rookie, it was his touch and overall velocity control. Lawrence simply tried to rocket passes into his desired targets far too often in 2021, often overthrowing receivers in condensed spaces because he gave them a fastball instead of a throw over the top with touch. I do believe this is a fixable issue, however, and don't think it is something that is going to keep him from taking a next step.
Q: What was your top highlight of the season, and what was your lowlight? 5 years from now, how will we remember the 2021 season?
A: The lowlight was the Urban Meyer incident following the Bengals game and the James Robinson fiasco. The highlight? I will go with the win in London against the Dolphins because it snapped the worst losing streak in franchise history and in the life of every single player on the roster. Considering the Jaguars were 0-5 entering that game, things could have somehow gotten even worse if they didn't squeak that win out.
In terms of remembering it, I think most will likely remember the Urban Meyer fiasco. And that isn't just one incident -- it is the fiasco that was his entire tenure. From the offseason to training camp to preseason to the regular-season, Meyer looked lost every step of the way and provided several memorable lowlights. When people think of the 2021 Jaguars, they will first think about just how badly Meyer's tenure went.
Q: Say the Jaguars want to hire Leftwich, but the Bucs also make the Super Bowl. Can they offer him the job while the Bucs are still in it, but just can’t release the story?
A: He can still be the head coach. Other coaches to do this in recent years: Zac Taylor, Matt Patricia, and Kyle Shanahan. The official announcement wouldn't come until after the Super Bowl, but the entire NFL and football world knew that the Bengals, Lions, and 49ers had their head coaches during the Super Bowl. In this case, there would be reports of agreements between the parties, but nothing from the team until after the Super Bowl.
Q: Do you see kicker as a need for this coming offseason, or has Wright earned a shot to be the guy? How would you address it?
A: I would sign a veteran kicker in the offseason and have him compete with Matthew Wright during training camp, giving the job to the winner. I am not the biggest fan of using draft capital on kicker prospects just because of how volatile the position is, but I do think the Jaguars would be wise to ensure that they don't walk into 2022 with Wright as their only option at kicker.
Q: Do you see any scenario where a QB can make up enough ground over the next few months to justify a team trading up to #1? Seems like they get pushed up most years cause of positional value, but this draft has more of a 2013 feel to it.
A: I don't think so. There are no more games left to be played and the Senior Bowl and East-West Shrine game are the only places where quarterbacks can boost their stock on the field. There simply isn't a single quarterback in this year's group who has the tape or hype to match past quarterbacks who have skyrocketed in the months leading up to the draft like Mitch Trubisky or Daniel Jones. This year's group of quarterbacks are who they are, and I don't think the NFL will change their views on them anytime soon.
Q: Is there a chance of trading Myles Jack? LB is our weakness on defense by far
A: I don't think the Jaguars are a better team without Myles Jack. While he had a down year in 2021, it seems odd to me that so many have forgotten about just how good he was in 2020 -- he should have been a Pro Bowler that season. Put Jack in a better scheme that lets him play his natural weak side linebacker position and the Jaguars will see a return of Jack's play-making ability. The 3-4 defense under Joe Cullen and the fact that Urban Meyer had no idea what Jack's strengths and weaknesses were helped ruin his 2021 season, but he can still play.
Q: Do you feel the decision with the #1 pick comes down to if the team keeps Cam Robinson?
A: I do not, but let's see how the rest of the offseason plays out first. The Jaguars would be wise to enter April having filled enough holes that they can pick any player at No. 1 instead of being backed into a corner and forced to draft a position instead of a player. The Jaguars also have a ready-made replacement for Robinson in left tackle Walker Little, who the franchise picked at No. 45 overall last year. So as of now, my answer to this is "no". If the Jaguars don't address the offensive line in any facet in March, though, that could all change.
Q: Chances of a tag and trade with Cam Robinson?
A: I would be surprised. I think there will be some teams that are heavily into Cam Robinson's market (Miami Dolphins and Carolina Panthers each make sense), but not enough to warrant placing the tag on Robinson and hoping a team takes the bait. The Jaguars would be better off taking a compensatory pick for Robinson in the event they don't re-sign him.
Q: Seeing Steve Spagnuolo with the Chiefs reminded me just how many failed head coaches go back to successful coordinator roles. How do team front offices specifically screen candidates who have no HC experience? What questions do they ask to determine if someone like Leftwich or Bieniemy is a Sean McVay or a Steve Spagnuolo?
A: I think a lot of it is simply projection. You don't know how well a coach will do in a head coach role until they are in it in most cases. With that said, I do think there are important questions to ask in terms of style of leadership, how they would organize the team and ultimately the organization as a whole, what visions they have for the team's improvement moving forward, and where they think the team is currently lacking. I think how a coach answers any of these questions will give a good idea as to whether he is the right man for the job.