It’ not exactly the “Margot Robbie in lingerie” of coaching hires. In fact, it’s as sexy of a move as, Amy Schumer in a bikini.
When the Jaguars announced they were removing the interim tag from Doug Marrone’s title, it had to feel like a punch in the gut for Jags fans. This is especially, when the Jaguars buried the lead, by announcing Tom Coughlin is coming back as an advisor, which overshadowed naming Marrone head coach.
Here, the Jags had a golden opportunity to go get an offensive genius or a stingy defensive minded head coach, and yet they settled on the guy down the hall.
So if your left scratching your head as to why they may have chosen Marrone instead of going for that “sexy” hire, here are my three big reasons:
Coaching staff with some stability but, some uncertainty:
Why stunt the young defenses growth that it’s displayed under defensive coordinator Todd Wash? The unit finished sixth overall in total defense and was fifth against the pass. Even still, Marrone on Tuesday went through and swept away all the defensive coaches, except for Wash and defensive assistant Mike Rutenberg.
Yet offensively, Marrone and coordinator Nathaniel Hackett have a history together since their time in Buffalo (But from insiders I’ve spoken with, Marrone handcuffed Hackett’s play calling in Buffalo. we’ll have to see how it plays out again). In a microscopic sample of Marrone and Hackett back together again, the Jags scored 58 points in their final two games.
Blake Bortles last chance in Jacksonville
If someone other than Marrone was brought in, Hackett would’ve clearly been out. Meaning Bortles would’ve had to learn his fourth new system in four seasons, which isn’t exactly a great idea for a young quarterback’s development.
Hiring Marrone also states Bortles is still for now, “the guy” at quarterback. But even in meetings I was in with Marrone back in Week 16, he said if he got the job “I’d expect there to be competition for that spot (quarterback) in training camp.”
Bortles underachieving play, and even regression this year, was a component to Gus Bradley’s exit. Now that Marrone is at the helm, Borltes gunslinger attitude will be curtailed some, especially with Marrone not tied down to the UCF product as his quarterback.
GM Caldwell stays
Dave Caldwell said owner Shad Khan (above) put him in charge of the hire. So what did you think? Caldwell was going to hire a Josh McDaniel’s type who wants to bring in their own General Manager? Obviously, Caldwell wanted to hold on to his job, and by elevating Marrone, it keeps his spot safe for now.
Look, from where I saw things from inside their building working a few games for CBS this season, hiring Marrone was going to be the move all along. The Jags wanted to float the idea of a “sexy” hire to reinvigorate the fan base. But, here was nothing sexy about Bucs defensive coordinator Mike Smith, nor Tom Coughlin.
Smith may have turned the defense into an elite group, but what about the offense?
Coughlin being named head coach reminds me of going back and dating your first love years later. Sure, it brings back a hint of nostalgia but at some point you’ll figure out why you broke up the in first place.
Coughlin is 70-years old, how would he assimilate to a youthful locker room? I was told by one player that he didn’t think Coughlin would be a good fit, and that he wasn’t the only one. Shad Khan had to know this was a possible issue.
So why not Coughlin 2.0 as head coach? Well, Marrone is another Syracuse guy that believes in discipline, and one of the biggest complaints in the locker room over the past 4-years was Bradley’s inability to call players to the carpet. Admonishing players in front of their teammates and creating peer pressure was never part of Bradley’s style, but it is for Marrone.
Marrone isn’t a big name or the “sexy” hire, but he’s a fighter. A guy who had to battle his way on to NFL rosters as a player, and who had to start his coaching career at tiny Cortland State.
And Marrone is also a guy methodical and calculated enough to put himself on a staff, where he foresaw the head coach hitting the bricks soon. The assistant head coach title was just for show, just like the interim tag, Marrone was the head coach in waiting the entire time.
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?
Jaguars exercise 2020 option for WR Conley
Before free agency hits in March, the Jaguars have already begun to put some pieces together for their 2020 roster. And, that includes a big play wide receiver that they intend to keep around for this season.
The team announced on Friday afternoon that they have picked up a contract option on fifth year receiver Chris Conley, who comes off a career year in Jacksonville:
We have exercised the team options for WR Chris Conley (through 2020) and S Jarrod Wilson (through 2021).
— #DUUUVAL (@Jaguars) February 21, 2020
Conley signed a two-year deal with the first year being guaranteed and the second year being a team option. He definitely lived up to the free-agent billing having a career-high season in receptions (47) yards (775) and touchdowns (5) despite Jacksonville struggles.
Conley did develop a chemistry with rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew, as he took over for the injured Nick Foles early in the year and won four games to get the team to 4-4. Conley also averaged a career-high 16.5 yards per catch in 2019.
He previously played four seasons in Kansas City before coming to the Jaguars via free agency. In picking up the option Jacksonville will pay Conley $2.3 million for this season including a $445,000 roster bonus. That is very cost-effective for the team in terms of the salary cap can other players they are looking to fit in.
The team must decide whether they will put huge money in front of their top pass-rusher the last three years, Yannick Ngakoue. Ngakoue has 29.5 sacks from 2017-29 with is the most productive three season stretch for any Jacksonville pass rusher in that amount of time. Jaguars coach Doug Marrone and GM Dave Caldwell have to figure out if they can get Ngakoue to agree to a long term deal or will they perhaps use the 2020 “franchise tag” for him, which would pay him around $18-19 million for the upcoming year.
And, the team also can negotiate a new deal with star running back Leonard Fournette, who is about to enter the final season of his rookie contract and is also going to be seeking a huge extension.
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