Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone met with the media on Tuesday, moments ahead of the team’s first OTA of the 2018 season. For those of you who have met Marrone, who steered the Jaguars ship to a 10-6 record and the AFC South title, this is a clean slate for his team – a new beginning and a new focus on what lies ahead, not what was left behind.
Doug Marrone is a likable sort, with an eye to detail, has a comedic personality at times and a finger on the pulse of this team and its players. Most of all, Marrone is a straight-shooter who says what he means and means what he says. What he told those in attendance at his press conference was simple – this is a start to a new chapter in the history of this organization.
Most of all, Doug Marrone wants to win. Marrone spoke to the team about goals and what he is looking for from the practices this week, the ones where he claims his players are still in their pajamas. It’s a basic plan that proved successful last season and one he hopes will continue to provide the necessary tools for this team to win again in 2018.
"“The last thing I spoke to them about with our goals going for these OTAs is obviously chemistry,” Marrone said. “You can’t put your finger on it sometimes, you just kind of know when you have it. I think a lot of that is the players getting to know each other, and it goes back to that same thing – that trust and accountability – and creating that common goal for us which will come later on when we start talking about it during training camp and what we want to get done there. We talked about that, and I thought that was good.”"
The Jaguars dealt with a heartbreaking loss to the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship game, a game they had won for the first 50 minutes of the contest. Now, the players are being asked to put feelings aside, to develop amnesia and move forward.
In some cases, it may be easier said than done. Jacksonville was a 3-13 team this time last year. No one gave them a chance outside the confines of TIAA Bank Field and no one in the national media thought they would sniff mediocrity. It was one of the best stories of the NFL season. The ending wasn’t what Marrone and his coaching staff hoped for. Another chance at history has presented itself.
Doug Marrone was asked how he identifies this “chemistry” in camp. His response was in usual fashion – calm and to the point.
"“As a coach, at the beginning, you mention and then you watch it. I know it’s starting to happen when you’re not talking across the ball when you’re not becoming combative,” he explained. “That is one of the things that I look for, and there is a lot of encouragement throughout the group.”"
With many veterans returning from last year’s team and new faces from different places being asked to come in and adapt to the philosophies and camaraderie within the locker room, it really is like starting over again. The Jaguars had a swagger on defense last year and a bullish mentality on offense with their running game. Those two things will be key to another successful season.
"“To be honest, I told the team it’s always good to learn from the past, but please do not dwell on the past. This is a new team,” Marrone said.“I told them that I feel whether I’m right or wrong that I think a lot of the people in the media – and not as much here – but I think when people come from the outside, they are going to try to get our team to talk about last year and these things of last year. They are going to talk about how maybe failing at the end and how that is going to motivate you.”"
The Jaguars have another OTA set for Thursday. Doug Marrone and his staff will learn more about new faces and who is fit to lead this team other than the usual suspects. It was business as usual on the indoor practice facility on Tuesday. This team means business. Now, it’s time for Marrone, his coaching staff and the players on the roster to show time has healed all wounds and it’s time to get back to winning football games once again.