On Monday the Jacksonville Jaguars officially announced that they would be promoting interim head coach Doug Marrone into the full time position, hiring Tom Coughlin as the executive vice president of football operations and giving general manager Dave Caldwell a two-year extension.
The moves were met with mixed reactions that had a lot of peaks and valleys, but the overall feeling with all the moves seemed to be a resounding... “What?”
There is a lot going on with the moves the Jaguars ended up making on Monday and in reality they offer more questions than answers. After sleeping on the news and talking about it with a few people, here are five thoughts I have on what the Jaguars ultimately did on Monday.
1. Why did they wait to fire Gus Bradley and promote Doug Marrone?
I’m not going to believe that Marrone was the most impressive candidate and that’s why they ended up hiring him. He’s been here for two seasons now, so you know what you’re getting. I’m not sure I totally buy that other candidates turned them down, either, but I think the team opted to go for a combination hire also bringing in Tom Coughlin to help right the ship. The question is still going to remain until we get in an answer in the Thursday press conference: Why did you wait so long to fire Gus Bradley? You could have had this structure in place two months ago.
2. What exactly is Dave Caldwell’s role now?
With the addition of Coughlin as football ops and the news that he will have 53-man control of the roster, what exactly is the role of general manager Dave Caldwell? It seems obvious that Caldwell was given a demotion and stripped of power even if the team doesn’t explicitly state that being the case. My thoughts are the team feel Caldwell is good at evaluating talent, but not good at building a team. The latter is a special skill that the best general managers have, and it’s something that Tom Coughlin was exceptionally good at when he was the head coach of the Jaguars in charge of the roster. I would guess Caldwell will still operate as the day-to-day general manager, but everything done must meet Coughlin’s stamp of approval.
3. Doug Marrone, the candidate, is a fine coaching hire.
The hiring of Doug Marrone has been met with a mixed bag from fans and in my opinion a bit unfairly and the anger misguided. I wrote about this last week when I said Marrone had a better shot at the job than most people thought, but in a vacuum Doug Marrone the coaching candidate is just fine as a hire. He brought Syracuse back to being a respectable football team while he was there and then brought the Buffalo Bills their first winning season in nearly a decade with E.J. Manuel and Kyle Orton at the quarterback position. He saw the writing on the wall in Buffalo and left on his own accord, which looks like the smart move two years later. The Jaguars offensive line, despite what people think, improved significantly in pass protection during Marrone’s watch. In the two games Marrone coached, it was a completely different team on the field compared to past weeks/seasons. The problem is, the optics.
4. Why did the Jaguars not control the narrative and let the optics get out of control?
One of the biggest criticisms from the Jaguars coaching search is how they handled the entire process. While the other five teams with vacancies were tweeting when they interviewed what candidate, when they were done and profiles of the interviewees, the Jaguars were sending tweets about a sub sponsorship and essentially having a gag order on information. The narrative shifted to no one actually wanted the Jaguars head coaching job and they would end up having to settle for Doug Marrone. I don’t think that’s specifically true, but because of the optics of the whole situation, that’s how it appears. It’s something minor really because it will blow over in a few weeks, but this is something the Jaguars could have easily controlled by confirming and putting out specific information they wanted. I mean hell, if you announce Coughlin hired as the VP of ops first, before anyone else is able to get the news out, I’d bet the general reaction to everything would be a lot more measured because of the appearance that it’s all Coughlin approved.
5. Are the Jaguars keeping the same defensive scheme?
Reports surfaced that the Jaguars would be keeping at least defensive coordinator Todd Wash and linebacker coach Robert Saleh on staff, but until that is announced and/or confirmed we can only assume that the defensive staff will largely remain intact. So that begs the question; will the Jaguars still be running the same defensive scheme, especially after it was ripped by multiple defensive players after the final game? The scheme the team has run the past four seasons was something that Gus Bradley wanted and tried to emulate from his time under Pete Carroll with the Seattle Seahawks. Wash only spent two seasons with Bradley in Seattle prior to coming to Jacksonville, so is he going to keep the same scheme or will he install his own? Wash also worked under Monte Kiffin in Tampa Bay, which ran a more traditional 4-3 defensive front. Will the Jaguars move to something more traditional or keep the same scheme going forward?