The Jacksonville Jaguars went from 3-13 to one bad half of football away from the Super Bowl — with the same quarterback, largely the same defense, and missing their No. 1 wide receiver due to injury. Their offensive and defensive coordinators remained the same and the staff behind them went unchanged, for the most part.
So what changed?
Doug Marrone became the permanent head coach.
This past season was a complete 180 in terms of on-the-field performance and one of the few changes was the head coach — but it still wasn’t enough to warrant putting Marrone in the top 10 of head coaches in the NFL.
NFL.com’s Elliot Harrison recently ranked the 32 head coaches in the NFL and while Marrone is in the top half, he’s barely there, coming in at No. 14 overall.
14. Doug Marrone, Jacksonville Jaguars
Could Marrone be the most underrated head coach in the league? He belongs in the top half of this list not only because of the Jags’ near-Super Bowl run, but also due to what he accomplished in Buffalo. People forget that Marrone went 9-7 in 2014 before he left the team by his own volition — a decision he now admits was misguided. Despite being an offensive lineman by trade, Marrone’s teams have been defensive in nature. His first year in Buffalo, the Bills went from 22nd to 10th in team defense. The next year they were fourth. Last year, Jacksonville finished second. Marrone might not be drawing up complex schemes, but his hard-nosed approach has rubbed off on his teams. These aren’t your older brother’s Jaguars.
I don’t care how big of a Jaguars hater you are, you can’t deny that Marrone is a gifted head coach who is able to maximize the talent he’s given. He took one of the most inconsistent quarterbacks in the league and helped him limit his mistakes (and put in some masterful late season performances that includes a 45-42 postseason win against the Pittsburgh Steelers on the road in an AFC Divisional Game). He created an environment and culture where a rookie running back in Leonard Fournette could flourish. And the offensive line is quietly one of the best in the league.
So who’s above Marrone? Bill Belichick? Fair. John Harbaugh? Uhh... Jon Gruden? Stop the damn fight, y’all.
What do you think? Should Marrone be ranked a bit higher and crack the top-10? Or does Marrone still have things left to prove?