Before everyone gets all excited about the most recent NFL coaching rankings by Elliot Harrison of NFL.com, might I remind you these are opinion based? Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone was ranked 14th out of 32 head coaches, which means he is better than most with room to improve as his team continues to climb toward reaching the Super Bowl in Atlanta.
This is the time of year where NFL writers set the bar for the coming season, putting together their annual lists and put their own spin on who is the best of the best. I don’t put a lot of stock in them, but they do have a place for great debate while the days of summer role in and fans anxiously await the beginning of training camp, signaling the true start of the NFL season. Marrone is a curious case of being underrated and underexamined. Harrison acknowledges the Jaguars frontman could be ranked higher.
For now, I think he right where he should be. This is a case like David Caldwell, who has been the Jaguars general manager since 2013 and has improved his position the past three seasons with solid draft classes and even better free agent signings. Marrone is a no-nonsense coach who has made this team better, but the body of work he has produced is just a small sample here in Jacksonville.
Marrone has coached 18 regular season games and three playoff games here in Jacksonville. You could make the argument he should be ranked above Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay, who is slotted just above him. You could also make the case, with his success in Buffalo in his only other head coaching stop, he should be ranked about Jon Gruden (ninth on the list), who has been out of the game 10 years and returns to a league that has changed drastically.
Other than those two coaches, I don’t think you get much argument with Harrison’s opinions. Bill Belichick, Sean Payton, Pete Carroll, Mike Tomlin, John Harbaugh and Mike McCarthy have all won Super Bowl rings. Andy Reid is the best veteran head coach to not win a Lombardi Trophy. Doug Pedersen just exorcized the Philadelphia Eagles’ demons and Mike Zimmer is going to win a Super Bowl ring soon.
Ron Rivera and Dan Quinn have been to the Holy Grail only to fall short.
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The general consensus is Marrone is slotted in the middle of NFL head coaches for a reason. Even FanSided’s own Russell Baxter had him ranked 16th in his recent rankings. If Marrone is to change the media’s opinion, he has to do one thing — win on a consistent basis. There are those out there who believe the Jaguars may be a one-season wonder while the AFC South continues to get better.
This isn’t something that should make Marrone lose sleep. He doesn’t pay much attention to this kind of news. His focus is always trying to make this team better. He preaches it, he practices it, he talks about it on a daily basis with the local media. He lets the work on the field do the talking for him.
If the Jaguars make the playoffs again and win another division title, then the narrative should change with next year’s rankings. For now, fans should be happy with where Marrone sits. Sure, there are plenty of locals who feel he deserved a better fate. While it may not be something to worry about, what this list and others like it do is create a great debate amongst fans and NFL pundits.
That’s the true meaning of these kinds of exercises. If anything, Harrison’s story gets us more excited for the NFL season. That’s more important than anything.