Jacksonville Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell spoke with the media on Friday at the NFL combine. He spoke about a variety of different topics during his press conference, including the reasoning behind some of the offensive hires and touched on the offensive line and some of the other players on the roster.
What stood out about Greg Olson to hire him as offensive coordinator?
It was Greg's experience developing young quarterbacks. The thing that stood out to me the most was when I was in Atlanta and what he did with a young Tampa Bay team that went 10-6 with Josh Freeman in his second year as the quarterback. I think he gets the most out of his players and puts them in a good position to succeed.
What did you know of the Doug Marrone/Buffalo debacle before hiring him?
I didn't make too much of it. I know there was a lot of stories out there and maybe from their part and maybe from Doug's part - I don't really know. The truth probably lies somewhere in between. I know Doug is a good person, a good man and we're happy to have him on our staff. I know Doug is looking forward to the opportunity to be with us and we're looking forward to the opportunity to have him develop our young offensive line.
What impact will the hiring of Nathaniel Hackett as QB coach Bortles?
Nate's great. He's a very intelligent, young coach. He can think outside the box. I think he'll be a good, calming influence for Blake. He's had some experience with some young quarterbacks. When you meet Nate, you won't think he'll be a calming influence, but throughout the game and the week, he'll have Blake very well prepared with Coach Olson and our offensive staff.
What about the improvement of Luke Joeckel Zane Beadles late in year?
I really thought they came on, the last six games I'd say. We've talked about this with Luke - he spent all of last off-season rehabbing and didn't have a chance to get better. This year, he's in there working out and can get stronger and really improve his craft. I think that's going to be really important for him. And the same with Zane. When you sign a veteran, you automatically think he's going to come in and be a team leader and they're going to be a plug-in and play. But Zane was only in his fifth year and he had to learn a whole new offense that was foreign to him so there was a learning curve for him.
Will you be meshing some of Olson's new offense with some old stuff to quicken the transition?
What the offensive staff is doing right now is important and critical. They're really open minded to what we have and putting those guys into position to succeed. It's not about it being [Olson's] offense or what Doug and Nate brought from Buffalo. It's going to the Jacksonville Jaguars' offense.
How much does character get weighed by Jaguars in draft evaluation?
We weight it really heavily. For us, there are two main points: A player has to be a culture fit or productive and ideally, we'd like to be both. Hopefully, 95 percent of our players are good culture fits and the ones that aren't, we can develop them and part of our organizational philosophy is that when a player comes to us, our goal is that whatever they are as a player or a person, they leave Jacksonville as a better person. Coach Bradley and his staff believe in developmental coaching but we're also developing young men, too. Just because a player may have had a situation in the past, it's not our job to judge. We've all made mistakes. I've made mistakes. If they show remorse and are willing to admit the mistake and show humility and get better, we're willing to work with those types of people.
What is the value of having staff coach Senior Bowl for second straight year?
Not only does it help you identify the players you want, like an Aaron Colvin or a Telvin Smith or a Brandon Linder, guys like that, it helps you identify guys that may not fit our culture or from a production standpoint or from a schematic standpoint. We went in there with a narrow group of guys we wanted to focus on and the coaches were really involved and felt good about the week we had. Hopefuly it's our last time for a long time, or if 18-19 teams maybe will pass on it next year and we'll go again.
How do you make a jump up the AFC South standings?
For us, it's a total team sport. Indianapolis is a team that has controlled the division the last two years and they have a tremendous QB, a great coaching staff and a well run organization. We feel like we're pointing in the right direction, but we have to just focus on what were doing on a daily basis and continue to bring in good talent for our coaching staff.
Are you confident that free agency will improve team?
We're very prepared, especially on the defensive side of the ball. We've met with our coaching staff the last two weeks and went over each position and we gave the offensive staff an extra two weeks because of the turnover and we'll start meeting with them on Tuesday
Potential return of Justin Blackmon?
It's currently in the league's hands and it's in Justin's hands, to be honest with you. The reports I've gotten second-hand is that he's doing the right things and engaging in the program and he's really trying to make positive strides in his life. Our thoughts are with him. We'll welcome him back if he does all the right things and hopefully the league shows some urgency in trying to focus on him and he shows some urgency in trying to do the right things. Right now, those reports are positive.
What about third-string tailback Storm Johnson?
In his limited amount of play last year, he played well. He had a really dynamic run against Baltimore. Storm has all the talent in the world. If he comes in, is in good shape and a good frame of mind, we expect big things from him next year
Is this a good year to have $62 million of cap space?
Any year is good to have cap space. But you have to be wise. Just because you have a lot of money, you have to be wise to not mortgage the future. For us, it's important we make good decisions but you can't manufacture players if they're not there. There's no sense of urgency for us to go out and spend for the sake of spending, but we'll be aggressive. If there is a player we want, we're going to do what we need to do to get him.
Thoughts on mentor Bill Polian being voted into Hall of Fame?
I thought it was great and very well deserving based on his career and the impact he's not only on the franchises he worked for but the league as a whole and his contributors to the NFL and the Competition Committee. Him and Ron Wolf are trail-blazers in their profession.
Do you still talk with Polian?
Absolutely. He's a great sounding board. Obviously, we have his son, Chris Polian, on our staff and he's a great sounding board because he's done the [GM] job for five years. I've tried to surround myself with as much experience as I could on the personnel side. There is never enough good advice you can get.
Will this be defense-centered draft for Jaguars?
I don't know if we're quite there yet, to be honest. When you're 3-13, you still have to address every position on the draft board for the most part. We're young in this tenure here and we're a young team so we're not in a window to say, ‘Hey, we're going to be a perennial playoff team for the next 6-8 years.' We're still looking for dynamic players and if somebody falls into the second round and it happens to be a skill position receiver or running back, we won't be afraid to take them knowing we're still a ways away from being where we want to be.
Ho do the Jaguars use analytics?
It's important to say, ‘Hey, it's a great tool for us.' It doesn't translate to every situation or every player but for us, it's a good tool and a system of checks and balances. What do the analytics show about this specific player? What are the probabilities of a player at this size making it in the NFL? And then there are going to be situations where you maybe ignore that and go with the coaches and scouts. And there was the Denard Robinson situation and say, ‘We're going to look at him in the fifth round because his speed score shows he could be a pretty good running back.'
Is it a big weekend for edge rushers?
I wouldn't say it's really critical. It's another piece of the process. There are 8-9 different things we look at in a player before we draft them and this is just another part of the information we need to get. There are certain cut-offs we have for speed and edge rushers and if they fall short on speed, you have to make sure they make up for it in another facet.
What is the running back situation with Toby Gerhart, Denard Robinson and Storm Johnson?
Toby obviously showed when he was healthy what he could do - he's a power back, very good in a four-minute situation, he's very good in pass protection and catches the ball really well out of the backfield. I would assume he has a similar role for us this year. Denard, with his work ethic and if he continues to get better, if he can handle it, maybe an expanded role. And maybe Storm can split some reps. We'll keep four running backs and we'll just have to see if we draft another guy or sign one through free agency. We just want to create the most competition.