While the outside perception may be different, the players within the Jaguars locker room are appreciative of their head coach Doug Marrone.
Over the best several days there has been an ongoing discussion among fans and members of the media regarding the potential for a clean sweep of coaching staff and high level executives, following the decision Jaguars owner Shad Khan made on Wednesday to dismiss now-former Jaguars EVP of Football Operations Tom Coughlin.
Currently, there is no timetable for when a decision will be made to retain neither Marrone nor General Manager Dave Caldwell, however, on Wednesday the message from the players was loud and clear: they love their head coach and want him to stay.
Over the past several months — even into the offseason —, the Jaguars as an organization have been through multiple drama-fueled incidents, including the swift dismissal of Coughlin following an NFLPA letter discrediting the entire organization.
Former Jaguars linebacker Telvin Smith abruptly retired, defensive end Yannick Ngakoue held out of training camp for 11 days, former Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey demanded a trade, and quarterback Nick Foles was benched after just 10 quarters of action upon returning from a broken left collarbone.
#Jaguars cornerback D.J. Hayden on Coach Marrone and if he wants to see him back next season:— Demetrius Harvey (@Demetrius82) December 20, 2019
“I would. I would like to see our whole coaching staff back, but that is out of my control.” pic.twitter.com/o9XosEIVcD
A tumultuous season that never got too far gone thanks — in part — due to the leadership of Marrone and his ability to adapt and change to the players’ needs, making sure the team finishes strong.
“I give him a lot of credit,” Jaguars cornerback A.J. Bouye said shortly after practice on Thursday. “He told us today after practice that there has been a lot of distractions that we couldn’t control this year and he commended us on staying together, staying focused. He has shown who he is.”
The Jaguars have had an up-and-down season. During the first eight weeks, a 4-4 start seemed like a miracle after the jettison of their star defensive back and a near-season-ending injury to their starting quarterback. It came crashing down by way of a five-game losing streak, seemingly with no hope left. However, the Jaguars have continued to fight and showed it last Sunday with a 20-16 victory over the Oakland Raiders.
Multiple other Jaguars players including defensive end Calais Campbell, running back Leonard Forunette, defensive tackle Abry Jones, and defensive end Dawaune Smoot, expressed their appreciation for Marrone on Thursday.
Cornerback D.J. Hayden feels Marrone is a great listener, an understanding coach who takes everything into account. “I like him a lot. I’m just hoping for the best, trying to focus on these last few games and finish strong.”
While he wants to see the entire coaching staff return, he understands it is not in his control. “I just try to do my part, do my job the best I can and make some plays and help this team win.”
Staying focused was the theme of the day within the Jaguars locker room. Players seemed ready and willing to speak, and not once did they seem distracted by the news of the day, a message clearly heard by the team from Marrone.
“There is so much stuff we have gone through this year that we don’t typically go through in a season,” Campbell reflected. “He has done an incredible job keeping the guys focused and staying on the task at hand. That is impressive. He is a very good coach.”
Jones came from a streak of losing. From 2013 (when Jones signed with the team) to 2016, the Jaguars won only 15 games before Marrone was named head coach in 2017, winning 10. His confidence to get back to a winning culture is high because of the moves the team — and Marrone — made in that short time to get to the AFC title game.
“It is hard for me to believe that we are only three years removed from that and we take away a problem that was seen by the NFLPA and seen by the outside world and you see we are fixing that – then you just keep repeating to people that we have no state tax, people are going to come down here and play. Get paid and don’t get taxed!,” Jones said after a bit of reflection on how far the team has come.
Whether or not Marrone does stay as the head coach for the 2020 season, the players believe that even with a younger generation, he has made a focused effort to relate.
“Coach Doug has done an excellent job with the players. Like I said, nobody is perfect – I think he has learned to with communicating with the players and just trying to understand us,” said Fournette. “It is a different generation of guys, too. He has done a tremendous job with us, and he is very understanding this year.”
The Jaguars star running back said quickly and with no hesitation, that he wants to see Marrone return.
“I love Coach Doug”