The Jacksonville Jaguars are in the middle of a head coaching search, with interviews lined up with Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan on Friday and New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels on Saturday. Thursday however the Jaguars met with interim head coach Doug Marrone, a meeting which went through the day and into the night according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. (embed tweet)
It’s not a surprise that Marrone is getting an interview for the position, given how much different the team appeared with him in charge, but it may not be the token interview most fans thought it would be. Rapoport reported a week ago that Jaguars owner Shad Khan met with a “Super Bowl winning coach” who recommended Marrone to him for the vacant position. On Friday morning, Dan Hicken of The Drill on 1010XL made mention that he’s heard rumblings to not be shocked if Marrone ends up with the Jaguars job.
To a degree, that’s fine. Marrone himself is a fine coaching candidate in his own right. Marrone was a successful offensive coordinator for the New Orleans Saints for a few seasons when Sean Payton first got the job and he did a nice job as a head coach in college for Syracuse, and while he left on odd terms with the Buffalo Bills he did go 9-7 his second year with E.J. Manuel and Kyle Orton as his quarterbacks. He ended up opting out of his contract with the Bills, for specific reasons he hasn’t revealed, but judging the current situation with the Bills that has the same front office Marrone worked with, it makes sense why he opted to leave.
In a vacuum, Marrone is a solid choice for a head coach. Unfortunately for the Jaguars, they’re not operating in a vacuum and if Marrone is hired it raises two distinct questions that play off one another.
Why didn’t you fire Gus Bradley sooner?
The Jaguars stuck with Gus Bradley through 14 games in 2016 and then replaced him with assistant head coach Doug Marrone. Marrone ended up with a 1-1 record, which probably should have been 2-0, but the most important thing is the team itself appeared to be completely different on the field. If Marrone is getting that much consideration for the Jaguars head coaching job now, to where some people are warning to not be surprised by the hire, why did the Jaguars not fire Bradley sooner and give Marrone an extended interview, so to speak. You can’t really put your prints on a team in two games, but if you had say… eight games? You can get an idea on a coach with that and the Jaguars fumbled the chance to do that. If you end up hiring Marrone at this point, it makes that decision look even sillier. You had your guy all along but waited to make the move because… why?
If Gus Bradley didn’t get fired, is Marrone a serious candidate?
The Jaguars only decided to move on from Gus Bradley because the Los Angeles Rams fired Jeff Fisher and they didn’t want to get behind in the search for a new head coach. The situation now begs the question: If the Rams did not fire Fisher and Bradley coaches all 16 games, is Marrone even thought of as a candidate? How would he be? He wouldn’t have had the chance to coach the Jaguars for those two games and he’d be the offensive line coach of a two-to-three win team that had offensive line issues all season long and ended up getting worse running the ball than the year before.
The whole optics of the situation make the Jaguars look like they had no plan entering the coaching search or that no one wanted the job that general manager Dave Caldwell said people were calling him about. To me, personally, I feel like Marrone is their option if the interviews scheduled with Shanahan and McDaniels don’t work out how they envision, as Marrone hasn’t had any other head coaching interest thus far from other teams.
Marrone isn’t a bad coaching candidate, the optics of the situation leave him with the stink of the previous regime, unfairly to him.