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Big Cat Country Q&A: Was Doug Marrone held back by his old boss?

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Jacksonville Jaguars v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

Let’s answer some questions after a disappointing Jacksonville Jaguars loss at the hands of the Atlanta Falcons.

(Merry Christmas Eve, everybody!)

Sam from Orange Park, FL

Q: I’ve got a crazy idea. Instead of Shad Khan deciding whether to keep Doug Marrone, he fires Dave Caldwell, hires a new general manager or team president, and lets that person decide on the coach.

A: You’re still firing Doug Marrone at that point though because historically, general managers, team presidents, and anyone else who makes head coaching decisions want to bring in their guy. It also places an unfair burden on the new front office coming in as well as an extra decision they have to navigate. As boomer as it sounds to say, this isn’t a video game. Firing a head coach isn’t an easy decision most of the time and it certainly isn’t with Marrone. Hire a new general manager and let him start building right away. You either decide to clean house or you don’t.

Wyatt from Atlanta, GA

Q: Who’s a player you think is getting too much blame from the fan base, and a player you think isn’t getting enough criticism from the fans?

A: I think any of the linebackers we currently have starting are getting too much criticism. They’re all backups. I think they deserve the evaluation that they’re not good enough, but the criticism should be at the men who constructed this roster thinking that Myles Jack and two special teams players could compete against NFL offenses. As far as not enough criticism, I’d say Brandon Linder. He hadn’t allowed a sack coming into Week 16 and only a handful of pressures, but he’s had a horrible string of games when it comes to penalties. He was given the richest contract in NFL history for a center just two years ago but he’s not playing up to it. I’d also say Gardner Minshew isn’t getting enough criticism but that’s mostly because he’s done some amazing things this year. But he hasn’t been good enough to where I think he’s the unquestioned starter next season. He can be in 2020, but he’s currently not.

Joel from Atlanta, GA

Q: Is it fair to assume that Doug Marrone was held back by his boss? With as many coaching vacancies as rumored currently isn’t it a little of a gamble to hire a coach this year?

A: That’s the prevailing thought around the league and on morning sports talk radio. I mean, do you remember when Tom Coughlin would come down to training camp and practices dressed like a coach? We should have known he couldn’t help but meddle. Imagine being a middle manager and your regional supervisor comes into your store and starts telling your employees what to do. The message gets lost. Your employees don’t know who to listen to. You are being undermined. Coughlin should have spent those first few months observing and communicated privately with Marrone about things he felt were going well and made suggestions on what he should be doing differently. He shouldn’t have been actively making those changes himself with the players. In my opinion, Marrone is a net-neutral head coach. He’s not going to be a detriment (see Freddie Kitchens) but he’s also not going to lift the roster above where its talent level is currently (see Bill Belichick). I think you need to clean house, but Marrone will find another job in this league easily.

Bob from Lake City, FL

Q: All I want for Christmas is Dave Caldwell to be fired. Will I have a Merry Christmas?

A: I think so, Bob.

Mike from Eagan, MN

Q: I hope everything is okay with you guys. Do you know what a “live blog” is? You guys didn’t blog at all during the game yesterday. Missed some good zingers, I’m sure.

A: My parents came into town and we didn’t have anyone else available to look after the live blog. It sometimes happens during the holidays. We’ll do better next time, Mike. We promise. Merry Christmas.