In his latest piece for NFL.com, Elliot Harrison ranks Jaguars head coach 18th amongst league head coaches. This is a slight drop from last season.
When NFL.com’s Elloit Harrison wrote a piece last season, ranking NFL head coaches, there was a bit of outrage from Jacksonville Jaguars fans. How could Doug Marrone, who took a team not expected to compete for a wild card spot in the AFC South, let alone a division title, find himself ranked 14th amongst NFL elite?
Even I was a bit shocked to see Marrone, who did a solid job of playing no-nonsense football with a power running game and a stinging defense, chosen as a middle-of-the-pack guy at No. 14.
This past season, Marrone and the Jaguars endured a season of disbelief with injuries and, well you have read the issues from 2018. You would think this would have caused a vortex of sorts when Marrone would tumble into the NFL abyss.
This year, Harrison wrote that Marrone is 18th in his latest story, which to be honest, I’m OK with. For all the problems the Jaguars endured and all the miscues the offense had, the ranking could be worse, much worse.
“The Jags were as bad in 2018 as they were good in 2017. But with a new quarterback in Nick Foles, and Marrone’s no-nonsense approach — not to mention what remains a strong nucleus of talent — Jacksonville could be speeding into the playoffs come January,” he writes.
The Jaguars have more of a chance to make the playoffs in 2019 with changes to the offense implemented by the new offensive coordinator and Foles not only throwing a better deep ball to his receivers but instantly becoming the leader in the locker room. His presence alone and the chemistry dynamic that is building inside TIAA Bank Field and on the practice facility is worth everything to this organization.
I believe Foles being in Jacksonville was something that had to happen if the Jaguars wants to once again adjust the culture of the roster. So far, in a brief sample size, it is working. You don’t need a flow chart to see that addition by subtraction at the quarterback position will be a good thing for the Jaguars this coming season.
But everything will once again start with Marrone and end with him and his coaching staff as they try to get this team back to the postseason.
“Marrone deserves a ton of credit for making the Jags viable in the first place, and there is some leeway for the dropoff last season, considering how subpar Blake Bortles was. He wasn’t Marrone’s guy to begin with, although Marrone’s staff could have squeezed more effective play from the former third overall pick,” Harrison added.
“The discipline issues with Leonard Fournette and T.J. Yeldon late in the year did come under Marrone’s purview, one reason the stain of the poor season cannot be completely wiped away. Meanwhile, competent QB play can be the great elixir for a football team and its head coach. Don’t forget that Marrone has led this franchise as far as anyone ever has, including Jaguars executive VP Tom Coughlin.”
If Marrone, along with Coughlin and general manager David Caldwell take this nucleus of players and reach the Promised Land after the rockiness of last season, his ranking for 2020 should be higher.
Just like players, how a coach faces adversity tells you a lot about what kind of job he can do for the Jaguars. And just like players having to prove 2018 was more of a fluke than reality, Marrone faces the same, tough task.