It may be a new football season, but it is the same old Doug Marrone. The head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars opened the team’s rookie minicamp with more than 60 players all hungry to make a lasting first impression.
That impression may not be the one Marrone, who is in his second full season as the Jaguars’ head coach, is looking for. As he told the media when asked what he was hoping to get out of these next three days, it wasn’t what most would expect.
“I’m not looking for the competition part. I want them to be coachable and available. I don’t want to see a little thing. I don’t want to see them in the training room. I want to see them paying attention. I want to see them at the front of the line. I want to see what type of leadership they have,” Marrone said.
“Those are the things I’m looking for and basically, to be honest with you, are they good listeners? I don’t want to get into, ‘Hey, they need to keep their mouths shut.’ Can they listen?’ … I’ve always tried to advise those players, ‘hey, just listen first.’ And I tell a story I learned a long time ago: God gave you two ears and one mouth so you listen twice as much as you talk. I believe that’s what smart people do.”
That kind of demeanor and attention to detail is the reason why the Jaguars turned a 3-13 season in 2016 into a 10-6 season and a berth in the AFC Title game. Doug Marrone, general manager Dave Caldwell and Executive Vice-President Tom Coughlin have changed the culture of this franchise – something Marrone hopes will continue with this crop of young players here at TIAA Bank Field over the weekend.
While there are other things Doug Marrone is looking for, like whether his top draft picks Taven Bryan (first-round defensive tackle out of Florida) and (LSU wideout) DJ Chark will become leaders on and off the field, there are opportunities for undrafted players to make an impact this camp like wide receiver Keelan Cole did last season. Marrone used Cole as an example when he spoke to the players as they arrived at the stadium and hopes one or more of these men have an offseason like the undrafted free agent did last season.
Finding players who are the right fit and don’t get away is something he and his coaching staff will look at closely the entire offseason leading up to the first regular season game of the year.
“We cannot afford to have someone walk away from this camp who can help us as a football player,” Marrone said. “That would be the worst. That’s like taboo. That’s the worst mistake you can make. If we feel someone on this field can help us get better, we need to bring him in and replace or whatever we have to do to get him.”