All too often, coaches deserve criticism for being way too conservative or not being willing to take any chances. So, when a coach does what Doug Marrone did in the final :30 Sunday in Houston, we say “raise a glass for him.”
To set the scene: the Jaguars had played a pretty subpar offensive game for much of the day behind rookie backup quarterback Gardner Minshew. However, Minshew rallied the team in the final two minutes down 13 – 6 to get into scoring range. This included Minshew scrambling on his own and running 18 yards down to the Houston at 13-yard-line with :52 left.
Then with :30 left, Minshew found second-year receiver D.J. Chark alone in the back of the end zone for a 4-yard touchdown to pull Jacksonville within one point.
And that’s when Marrone, the Jags third-year head coach, decided to gamble on trying to win the game, right then.
Marrone called for a two-point play, and it was briefly halted when Texans coach Bill O’Brien called time out. Still, after the brief break and time to think about it, Marrone stuck with his plan and did not try to tie the game with a Josh Lambo extra point.
Instead, out of the shotgun formation Minshew handed inside to power back Leonard Fournette, who was stopped by a Texans double team tackle led by safety Justin Reid, just short of the goal line.
— Houston Texans (@HoustonTexans) September 15, 2019
That stop preserved the win for Houston and dropped the Jags 0-2.
After the game was done, Marrone met with the media and almost immediately was asked about the risk he took going for the two-point conversion, especially on a road. Marone answered that he had been contemplating going for two the entire time the Jags were driving inside the final two minutes.
Doug Marrone said he made the decision before the final drive that if the #Jaguars scored he was going to go for two.
— Phillip Heilman (@phillip_heilman) September 15, 2019
As for Fournette, he said postgame that he felt like he had reached the ball across the goal line, but briefly, to give Jacksonville a 14 – 13 lead. Alas, the officials didn’t see it and replays couldn’t clearly show him getting the ball across.
No matter that goes as a loss, Marrone was trying to win a game that his team had no business being in.
This is especially, with the loss of QB Nick Foles to a broken clavicle last week, and then, not playing the game with the likes of DE Yannick Ngakoue, DB A.J. Bouye, WR Marqise Lee and LT Cam Robinson, who are all injured and still trying to recover.
So, shorthanded, and off a season that fell apart at 5-11 last year, Marrone sent the message to his team: “I want to win, right now.”
But. the Texans stopped it.
Yes, you can question the play call/formation to hand Fournette the ball.
However, you cannot argue with a coach showing guts to go for victory, when his team needs a spark.
Jaguars DE Yannick Ngakoue hinting he’s gone again?
One of the key free-agent questions for the Jaguars continues to be whether or not they’re going to allow their best pass rusher, Yannick Ngakoue, to test the free-agent market coming up? And, once again, the player may be giving a clue that he’s going to do just that.
Ngakoue tweeted Wednesday morning the following phrase, which seems to indicate, yet again, that he will be playing somewhere else in 2020:
— Yannick Ngakoue (@YannickNgakoue) February 26, 2020
This goes along with something that we wrote earlier in January. That’s when just a couple of days after the season Ngakoue posted essentially a goodbye message to Jaguar fans. This came on the heels of him having held out for a new contract for the first few days of training camp last August, but not receiving a new deal during the season, etc.
Ngakoue, whose 37.5 career sacks are the most by a Jaguars player after 63 career games, is sure to be a sought-after player from many different teams. GM Dave Caldwell said at the end of the season when asked about re-sgning his star pass rusher, “He is a tremendous player and even a better person. How he handled his business this year was tremendous. But, I would say that’s priority No. 1, to make sure he comes back to Jacksonville. Hopefully, we can get that done. ″
It’s also worth noting that at Tuesday’s NFL Scouting Combine at media availability in Indianapolis, coach Doug Marrone repeated that he wants Ngakoue to remain in Jaguars teal and white:
Doug Marrone: ‘’No doubt where I stand or the coaches.”
—They want Yannick Ngakoue back. pic.twitter.com/vOorH4hH95
— John Reid (@JohnReid64) February 26, 2020
However, it remains to be seen if Marrone and Caldwell are willing to “pony up” huge money for him or even potentially, put the franchise tag on him before free agency begins next month?
Ngakoue figures to want a contract close to what the top ends are getting paid right now. Demarcus Lawrence and Frank Clark both signed five-year, over $100 million deals in 2019 and received guaranteed money that exceeded $62 million. That is massive for Jacksonville.
If the Jags opt for the “franchise tag,” then the talented end will be making around $19 million dollars, which is the current average of the top five players at his position. The Jaguars could also put the tag on him and then work on a longer term, salary cap friendly, deal that would replace the tag later in the off season.
Jaguars confirm they are declining option on DT Dareus
At Tuesday’s media session at the NFL Scouting Combine, Jaguars GM Dave Caldwell made official what had been rumored for the last couple of days regarding defensive tackle Marcell Dareus: he will not be brought back for a fourth season in Jacksonville.
Caldwell confirmed the Jaguars are not picking up DT Marcell Dareus' option.
— John Reid (@JohnReid64) February 25, 2020
Dareus only played briefly in 2019, as he suffered a core muscle injury that sidelined him after only six games and he was placed on injured reserve. The former number one pick of the Buffalo Bills had played for coach Doug Marrone for a couple of seasons in Western New York.
Marrone and Caldwell traded for Dareus during the 2017 season and he helped them with their rise to the AFC South title and two playoff wins. This included Darius registering two sacks and four other tackles-for-loss in the Jaguars three playoff games that year.
Dareus made the Pro Bowl twice in Buffalo in 2013-14.
However, he has not lived up to his hefty contract that was reworked Jacksonville last February. Last season, Dareus made over $8 million dollars and the team would have been on the hook for $20 million this year had they picked up the option. That obviously wasn’t going to happen.
Dareus also has had legal troubles off the field, including a civil suit against him in Tampa for alleged sexual misconduct. As we wrote previously, a woman alleged that Dareus had sexually assaulted her in January of 2018 at a North Tampa Florida home, while Dareus was in town for the Alabama-Clemson College Football Playoff Championship Game.
However, that suit filed in Hillsborough County court was “dismissed with prejudice” last April, which means it cannot be re-filed.
Dareus, if healthy after the core muscle injury rehab, may have some value as a defensive tackle on the free agent market.
As for the Jaguars, they have former #1 pick defensive tackle Taven Bryan to play more in the middle and are trying to decide if free agent-to-be, DE Yannick Ngakoue, can be afforded for their 2020 salary cap?