Can Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone come up with a game plan that will help him keep his job in Jacksonville past the 2020 season?
If it were only that easy. Marrone, who has labored through two double-digit losing seasons after taking Jacksonville to the brink of the Super Bowl in 2017, faces an uphill battle in Jacksonville with all eyes squarely on him and general manager David Caldwell.
Marrone isn’t the only head coach walking into the 2020 NFL season feeling the heat, but as far as fans are concerned here in Jacksonville, no other franchise matters and after getting so close to a chance to play for a Lombardi Trophy, what has transpired the past two seasons on and off the field feels more like Lucy Van Pelt pulling the football away from Charlie Brown.
There is potential with this organization, but the right buttons must be pushed and the decisions the front office makes over the next two months better have positive results or there “will” be some changes for the 2021 season.
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We all hold our collective breath on that one.
"“Matt Patricia, Dan Quinn, and Doug Marrone are all doing something that would have seemed surprising to many just a few months ago — preparing for another season of coaching the teams they led in 2019,” Brandt writes.“Patricia’s Detroit Lions finished 3-12-1. Quinn’s Atlanta Falcons got off to an alarmingly slow 1-7 start. Marrone’s Jacksonville Jaguars faltered in the wide open AFC South. And yet, all three men received reprieves for 2020. Now, of course, they’re facing plenty of pressure to make good on their second chances.”"
For those of you who know me and have had open dialogues about the coaching staff, I have been saying for months now how it will be interesting to see how Marrone operates this season with a new front office power structure and how the roster plays without distractions on and off the field. Everything right now is fueled by perception and hope.
Jacksonville’s main tasks this offseason are to find more skill players to move the football and help on the defensive front and at linebacker. Jacksonville also needs to strengthen the offensive line and decide which veterans with hefty salaries will remain on the roster.
No easy task, but I do think it is manageable.
Brandt agrees the defense must become a powerhouse once again.
"“Even in 2017, when the Jags reached the AFC title game with the league’s second-best defense, they struggled to stop the run, finishing 21st in that category,” he writes.“Two years later, the defense plummeted to 24th overall and 28th against the run, and coordinator Todd Wash’s unit, which had been a core strength, could no longer carry the team. The defensive front could use attention, with Marcell Dareus looking like a potential cap casualty, Calais Campbell at age 33 and end Yannick Ngakoue headed for free agency.”"
Dareus’s situation should be resolved shortly. The contract of Campbell needs attention. I believe the Jaguars place the franchise tag on Ngakoue, but a trade is still possible if a deal cannot be worked out.
There are other veterans Jacksonville will focus on as well.
Offensively, it centers around the quarterback position and who will be under center – hopefully for the long haul in 2020. This might be the toughest decision of the offseason for Marrone, Caldwell and the Jaguars coaching staff.
Brandt thinks Gardner Minshew should be the one leading the charge.
"“Minshew Mania was not without its bumps, including 11 turnovers in his first nine games and a two-game stretch when he was replaced by veteran QB Nick Foles. Presuming he’s the starting QB in 2020 (and at this point, Minshew appears to be the Jags’ best option), new offensive coordinator Jay Gruden and new QB coach Ben McAdoo will have to help Minshew find more consistent success throughout his second NFL season,” he adds."
The Jaguars scored only 18.8 points a game in 2019, which was an improvement from 15.3 in 2018. Minshew’s ability to move in the pocket and make things happen on the run help this team, especially if the offensive line woes cannot be fixed immediately.
"“I have confidence in Minshew, who did complete 70 percent of his passes at Washington State — I see him as similar to Tony Romo, who occasionally had trouble with ball security but finished his career with 248 TDs against 117 INTs and the fourth-best passer rating (97.1) of all time,” Brandt wrote."
The addition of Trent Baalke to the Jaguars front office is something that may help this team move up the AFC ladder this coming season. Brandt believes the move to bring him in as director of player personnel could help build the defense back up to where it once was just two seasons ago.
"“One thing that could help in this regard: the addition to the front office of Trent Baalke, who has a history of finding strong defensive linemen (like Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner in San Francisco),” he explained."