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Fascinating look at how state NFL coaches got their starts

Florida Football Insiders

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Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Thursday morning brought an interesting look at the first ever football coaching jobs for the three head coaches of the state of Florida’s NFL teams.

And, for Doug Marrone (above) of the Jaguars, Bruce Arians of the Bucs and the Dolphins’ Brian Flores, they have all interesting career paths and promotions, since then.

First, here’s the list 32 current coaches and how they began from ESPN NFL writer Turron Davenport:

Marrone actually began has a tight ends coach at Cortland State in New York and Davenport had these comments from him about his initial job,

“I went into it thinking, ‘Holy cow, all these things that I know that are in my mind, I’m going to be able to give these young guys, and we’re going to be unbelievable,'” said Marrone, who wasn’t paid at Cortland and survived on his savings for two years. “And what I found early on in coaching was that I tried to get them to a level too quick, and I really did a poor job of training them in the foundation or the fundamentals.

Obviously, Marrone’s rise to the head coaching level progressed from taking being offensive assistant under Sean Payton with the Saints, which led him to be the head coach at Syracuse in college. That led to his head coaching debut in the NFL with the Buffalo Bills.

And, that led to Marrone’s current gig, as head coach of the Jaguars, where he is about to enter his third full season in that role. Clearly, Marrone is “in the crosshairs,” especially after the Jaguars spent over $50 million guaranteed to bring in quarterback Nick Foles to improve their offense. Another bad season could have him out in North Florida.

Arians is the oldest and most experienced of the Florida NFL coaches, and has been the most successful of the them. He actually began, as a graduate assistant at his alma mater, Virginia Tech.

Again for Davenport’s item that these comments and what Arians thought about and did for his initial job,

“We weren’t a very good team, but every time we took the field, we thought we were gonna win. And I had played for someone else who was negative, and I learned that very positive approach,” Arians said. “He coached us really, really hard, along with [defensive coordinator] Charlie Pell and [offensive line coach] Danny Ford and all the guys on that staff as assistants.

I was lucky to break in with a bunch of guys that were quality coaches and became head coaches at other places — [quarterbacks coach] Nelson Stokley [became the head coach at Southwestern Louisiana], [assistant] Terry Don Phillips became the AD at Clemson — just learning how to do it right.”

Arians was later a head coach at Temple University, before becoming an NFL offensive coordinator and quarterback coach in places like Indianapolis and Pittsburgh. He obviously most recently, enjoyed head coaching success with the Arizona Cardinals, where he led them to the NFC championship game in 2014.

After a year off due to health reasons, he has taken over a Buccaneer situation where they’ve only had two winning seasons in the last decade. And, Arians is being entrusted to try to improve QB Jameis Winston’s play in 2019.

Finally, the third Florida coach will be making his head coaching debut this fall in Brian Flores. Flores, has only worked in football for the New England Patriots, where he began 2004 as a scouting assistant.  Flores also told ESPN’s Davenport that he was “The Turk” (person who informs players they are being cut) that initial season, as well,

Flores obviously learned under arguably the greatest coach in the modern era of football, Bill Belichick. And, he eventually became a secondary coach and last year was elevated to the title of “Defensive play-caller,” as the Patriots won the Superbowl.

Here’s what Davenport got from for us about learning that first year and overall from Belichick on the “Patriot Way,”

“I don’t want to call it a life lesson, but there’s instances where you do everything right, and you work hard, and things don’t work out,” Flores said. “That’s part of life, and it ends up being life lessons for some guys. Whether they make it or don’t make it, I think it’s something that people need to know and understand: Things don’t always work out. I think that’s part of my job as a teacher, as an educator, as a leader, that adversity is going to be a part of everyone’s journey. When one door closes, another one is going to open up.”

Flores has the most work cut out for him of the three state NFL coaches, as he has never been a head coach at any level before. And now, he is immediately being thrust into that with the Dolphins, who have floundered the last two years and have one of the weakest rosters overall in football.

We also enjoyed looking that’s what the first jobs for Belichick, Payton, Andy Reid (love the hair 40 years ago) of the Chiefs and Pete Carroll (same) with the Seahawks and on and on.

And as is the case with any profession, you have to start your employment somewhere.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Jags WR Marqise Lee returns to practice

Abbey Radeka

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

After losing veteran Alfred Blue in the first half of the 24–10 Thursday night loss to the Eagles with an ankle injury, the Jaguars are looking for offensive depth. In some fortunate news, WR Marqise Lee is off of the PUP list and has begun practicing today, roughly one year after suffering from knee damage that sidelined him for the entire 2018 season.

Head coach Doug Marrone made the announcement before practice on Saturday.

First Coast news reporter Ben Murphy got a video of Lee at practice receiving a pass from QB Nick Foles.

Last year, Lee was injured in the first quarter of a preseason game against the Falcons. He was hit by reserve defensive back Damontae Kazee on this play after a reception.

Lee suffered a torn ACL and went on injured reserve missing the entire season.

Lee became more prominent in Jacksonville’s pass offense in 2017 with 56 catches for 702 yards and three TDs. The Jags are surely going to rely on him this season which could mean he’ll see the field a bit in their third preseason game to get him readjusted to competitive game play.

However, they might not want to risk another potential injury before the season begins. We could see it going either way. We do know that he’ll be a great weapon for Nick Foles to utilize this season.

The return of Lee is coming off the heels of some other good news for the Jags announced earlier this week. Starting left tackle Cam Robinson was also removed from the PUP list on Monday after suffering a torn ACL in Week 2 last season. He has since made enough progress participate in some individual drills and should be ready, along with Lee, for their season opener against the Kansas City Chiefs.

In other injury-related news, we await how serious Blue’s ankle injury is coming off this second preseason game. Meanwhile, the likelihood is that Leonard Fournette, backed up by Thomas Rawls, will be the two running backs when the Jaguars play at the Dolphins next Thursday night.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars searching for RB depth after second preseason game

Florida Football Insiders

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Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

With preseason game number two in the books, it’s apparent the Jaguars have real issues with running back depth due to injury. This after veteran Alfred Blue left the first half of the 24 – 10 Thursday night loss to the Eagles with an ankle injury and did not return.

Blue carried the ball four times for just five yards has Jacksonville offense once again sputtered behind a makeshift offensive line. Coach Doug Marrone was so concerned about that line situation and their ability to protect/block that starting quarterback Nick Foles and running back Leonard Fournette never saw the field for a single play during Thursday night.

That means that veteran at Thomas Rawls (above Thursday) was called upon to carry the ball a little more, and he did so, seven times for 19 yards including a long run of 11 playing in the first half.

Rawls is a 5th year veteran who had some modest success with the Seahawks, including rushing for 830 yards his rookie year in 2015 with a 5.6 yard per carry average. His numbers tapered off in 2016 – 17 with ankle and foot injuries, as he only played in 21 games in those two years. Rawls was later released and picked up by the Bengals, but injured again last season, and never carried the ball in Cincinnati.

Obviously, the Jaguars are wanting to implement Fournette, as the primary ball carrier, but they will need someone else to spell him on a series or two. Also, Fournette has had durability questions, as he missed parts or all of eight games last year with a hamstring injury.

The Jags were also hoping to bring along Temple rookie running back Ryquell Armstead, but after he carried eight times for 22 yards last week, he suffered a concussion in the preseason opening loss to the Ravens. Armstead hasn’t practiced since, and is still being evaluated with no further update Thursday.

Speaking of updates, we await how serious Blue’s ankle injury is coming off this second preseason game. Meanwhile, the likelihood is that Fournette, backed up by Rawls, will be the two running backs when the Jaguars play at the Dolphins next Thursday night.

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