Jacksonville Jaguars Coloring With Teal: A New Tone with Doug Marrone

Dec 24, 2016; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars interim head coach Doug Marrone walks the field before an NFL Football game against the Tennessee Titans at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 24, 2016; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars interim head coach Doug Marrone walks the field before an NFL Football game against the Tennessee Titans at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports /

Looking for a new head coach following the 2016 regular season, the Jacksonville Jaguars hired offensive line coach/interim head coach Doug Marrone as the next full-time head coach. Was this enough of a change to overcome 3-13 and years of losing?

Last week, Coloring With Teal took issue with the recent Bortles Backlash and discussed why CWT thinks 2017 will be a solid bounce-back season for him. Now that some time has passed, we look at whether or not Doug Marrone was the right choice to be hired as the latest head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Next week, we’ll move up the chain and look at Tom Coughlin’s return to Jacksonville, and then after that we’ll look at general manager David Caldwell.

So, the Jacksonville Jaguars have hired their fifth-ever full-time head coach in Doug Marrone.

And the fans are not very happy.


This is not to say that they are enraged; far from it. Instead, the feeling raised from the Jaguars team site and a few fan sites is that people just don’t think that Marrone is far enough removed from Gus Bradley, having served under him as the offensive line coach the past two seasons. The overall consensus seems to be that the culture will not change enough in Jacksonville to overcome Bradley’s vision of the Jaguars. It is further exacerbated by his retention of the defensive coordinator and offensive coordinator from 2016. The fans seem to conclude that the hiring of Doug Marrone was at best uninspired and at worst lazy or clueless.

Jacksonville Jaguars
Jacksonville Jaguars /

Jacksonville Jaguars

Even some NFL executives, according to this article, think the Jaguars are “clueless.”

I can see this point of view–the Jaguars have been mismanaged in one way or another over the past, say, 10-12 years.

  • Former head coach Jack Del Rio was an average head coach during his tenure (2003-2011), but was well known for major coaching staff changes each year
  • During the first half of the Del Rio Era, James “Why do we still call him ‘Shack'” “Shack” Harris was calling our drafts. During this time, he had both controversial moves (remember QB-turned-WR first-round pick Matt Jones?) and solid hits (Marcedes Lewis, Maurice Jones-Drew).
  • Starting in 2009, Gene Smith took the player-personnel reins as the Jags’ first-ever general manager. (Remember “In Gene We Trust?”). One player from his drafting remains on the Jags’ roster. His drafting lead the Jaguars to a point after the 2012 season that the nearly-universal belief was the Jaguars had almost no ‘talent’ on the roster.
  • Did it matter who was head coach during the Gene Smith years? Del Rio, now a star head coach over in Oakland, was fired in November 2011 after a 3-8 start with Blaine Gabbert as the quarterback. Keep in mind that Gabbert replaced Josh McCown (currently New Orleans Saints backup) as starter after McCown’s four interception, 1.8-passer rating performance in Week 2. And also remember that he’d cut incumbent starter David Garrard in a surprise move; Garrard ended up needing back surgery after all and did not play for any team in 2011.
  • One-and-done head coach Mike Mularkey came in as a more serious, so-called ‘rules guy’, to inject some discipline into the team after the lackadaisical end to Del Rio’s tenure. After a 2-14 campaign, Mularkey was let go. Again, could anyone do much better with the 2012 team filled with Gene Smith’s picks and acquisitions?
  • Gus Bradley.

Now, you might say/think something like, “current GM David Caldwell hasn’t done much better.” Pro Football Focus, heading into the 2016 season, held a slightly different view. They gave our team an A grade for talent acquisition during the offseason and the 27th-best team. Heading into 2013, they had the Jags as the 32nd-best team. In their own words,

"Looking to push recent futility aside, the Jaguars have assembled a 2016 roster with considerable talent, using both the draft and free agency"

Remember, the 27th-ranking is calculated based on a multitude of statistics from the previous full season. Had the team won more games in 2015, this ranking very likely would have been even better. So independent analysis concluded that our roster is more talented that it was in 2012. The talent improved, but the record did not. This suggests that Caldwell has done better than Gene Smith, and the problem lies elsewhere.

If your team has talent but fails to find success, questions then shift over to the coaching staff.

The Jaguars tried to find success under Bradley for as long as any franchise can manage. When it was obvious that it wasn’t, owner Shad Khan let it ride a bit longer until it was untenable, then fired Bradley, who, at that point, had the worst head coaching record in the modern era.

Our friends over at Big Cat Country have taken the position that blaming Gus for the squandered 2016 season is foolhardy. I couldn’t disagree more. The head coach decides everything for the operation of the team. To give you some additional insight, consider a fantastic article by Conor Orr over at NFL.com about what it’s like to be a newly-hired head coach. Two tidbits which stand out for our own situation are the following:

"But on a micro level, Day 1 is about you: The head coach.“You’re trying to set up a vision for what you want the team to look like,” Garrett said. “So those are daily endeavors, and those are things you continue to do year in and year out as you try and build your football team the right way.”"

And, perhaps more importantly to the point in this article as a whole:

"Behind the scenes, there is stress and dissension. Every actor thinks he or she should be playing the main role, just like every coach on a staff of dozens believes he or she should have a bigger say in the daily operations and philosophy."

For the past two seasons, Doug Marrone coached the Jaguars’ offensive line. During that time, he held the title of “assistant head coach”, which could sound like he was Gus’ go-fer. However, most of you have or have had a boss with whom you have disagreed with about how to run either an office or a business or a staff. But ultimately, you did as you were told because a) they were in charge and b) could fire you if you become too much trouble.

His O-Line pedigree, I think, meshes better with Coughlin’s win-the-trenches mindset than nearly any coach-executive combination.

Another factor is more philosophical and broad than simple football wonkishness. In order to be a great leader, one has to be a good follower. Here is an article expounding on this philosophy for those interested, but the point is that Marrone might operate with a similar philosophy. He would have chosen to work within Bradley’s system as long as Bradley was in charge. Once Bradley was fired and Marrone was placed as interim head coach, Marrone could emerge and establish himself as the team’s central voice. Now that he is the official head coach, he’ll be able to establish his own style. Anything he does not feel will help make this team a win-first mentality team will be removed or changed.

He has a history of improving teams at both the college and NFL level. In short, he’s done this before.

He has worked with this team and knows it better than other new head coaches get to.

I showed last week that his two-game stint as interim showed marked improvement of the team over the previous 14 games.

He was strongly endorsed by new VP Tom Coughlin prior to Coughlin’s hire by Shad Khan.

His O-Line pedigree, I think, meshes better with Coughlin’s win-the-trenches mindset than nearly any coach-executive combination.


What do you think, now that we’ve had over a month to let Marrone’s hire settle in? Let me know in your comments below!