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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
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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

Jaguars injury woes continue- LB Myles Jack to IR

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Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports
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The bad news on the injury front for the Jaguars continued on Thursday, when they placed star linebacker Myles Jack on injured reserve.

The NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport had the news first:

Jack missed Sunday’s game against the Buccaneers with a knee injury that was believed to be a sprain suffered in the loss to the Colts two weeks ago. However, the move to IR indicates it may be more serious.

The Jaguars season has unraveled over the course of the last month with injuries to their defense and the team trading away perennial Pro Bowl defensive back Jalen Ramsey to the Rams. Jacksonville had already put DT Marcel Dareus on IR, All-Pro defensive tackle Calais Campbell has been trying to battle through a bad back and DB Tony Harrison has still not been cleared with a concussion.

Coach Doug Marrone has expressed the last two weeks that it has been a struggle for his defense with all of the injuries mounting late in the year.

As for Jack, he had settled in the middle linebacker roll after Telvin Smith abruptly retired in May.

Jack has been solid, but not spectacular, in the middle of the defense registering 7 or more tackles in five games this season. However he hasn’t forced a fumble, has only one interception and half of a sack. Jack also has just three tackles-for-loss at a position that often dictates much more output than that.

The former second-round pick out of UCLA had question marks about his knee coming out of college, when the Jaguars took him in the 2016 draft. However, he has answered critics on his durability by being active for all 59 games of his career up until last week.

Jacksonville will use veteran Donald Payne at middle linebacker for now. Payne played significantly last week against the Buccaneers and has been on and off of Jacksonville roster this season.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Can Jaguars get necessary spark from Gardner Minshew?

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The Jaguars were back on the practice field on Wednesday and have to rally around their rookie QB, Gardner Minshew, to re-ignite their season. And their opponent, may be the perfect for them, too.

Minshew took over in the second half for an ineffective Nick Foles, as Foles committed turnovers on each of Jacksonville’s first three possessions. Now, he’s back as their starter to see if the 4-8 Jags can salvage some games in December.

Now, the 4-win L.A. Chargers come stumbling to North Florida off a dramatic loss in Denver and yet, somehow, have been listed as 2.5-point underdogs by top sports betting sites.

Philip Rivers and the Chargers, new-look defense is coming to Jacksonville to try and move to 5-8 and make a run at a .500 season. In effect, both of these teams’ seasons are all but over, so they are just playing for pride.  And while mathematically, the Jags are not completely out of the AFC South race, yet, let’s be honest … the Titans and Texans are not going to drop four straight games … and it definitely isn’t looking like the Jags are going to win four straight.

Coach Doug Marrone is clearly in trouble and everything they try is not working. There were plenty of games that the Jaguars could have or should have won, but didn’t. And, now they are sitting on the very bottom of the AFC South with few games remaining.

Onto to the matchup.

The Chargers have owned the Jaguars historically, as they have won in two of the last three and seven of the last ten meetings. But right now, this is a pretty good spot for the Jags.

When we look at standard offense on any given Sunday, the L.A. Chargers are about two points better than the Jacksonville Jaguars on average. The Chargers put up 20.33 points per game against the Jags 18.33. It would be nice for Jaguars fans, if the Chargers performed significantly worse on the road, but they don’t.

They are almost exactly the same level of bad whether at home in Los Angeles or out on the road. And unfortunately, for Jags fans who buy tickets to home games, they have let them down at TIAA Field by performing worse in Jacksonville, to the tune of nearly three points per game. They score just 15.83 on their home field.

The yardage stats are comparable in this one, as the Chargers pass for 255.33 per game, while the Jags pass for 242.50. The Chargers rush for 92 yards per game, while the Jags run game with Leonard Fournette has dropped off to 79.67 average, currently.

On defense, the Chargers are a respectable top ten unit (No. 7 in the league) that allows just 18.50 points per game. They hold teams to 212 yards passing and 97.83 yards rushing.

However, that’s where Minshew will put them to the test. He is far more mobile than Foles and got Jacksonville 11 points in the second half Sunday with them driving for more. That is until the rookie’s killer interception at the Tampa Bay goaline midway through the fourth quarter.

So, most of the numbers point the another Jacksonville loss. That said, the Chargers have lost three straight but have shown some flashes of brilliance. So too did Minshew, who won four games in eight tries earlier this year as the fill-in starter.

If you can avoid this game for your “Survivor Pools” do so … If you are a bettor … stay away.

This is a game where anything can happen, especially with “Minshew Mania” back.

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