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One stat shows how Marrone has changed the culture in Jacksonville

Roy Cummings

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Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire

Just as it is with most every first-year coach, Doug Marrone inherited in Jacksonville last year a Jaguars team mired in a losing culture. A big part of his job then was to erase that culture and cultivate a winning one.

One statistic suggests that if Marrone hasn’t done so already, he’s well on his way to completing the task.

As ESPN’s Michael DiRocco pointed out this week, Marrone’s Jaguars have done a tremendous job so far this year of bouncing back from the few losses they’ve suffered through.

For the first time since 2007, which just happened to be the last time Jacksonville went to the playoffs, the Jaguars have yet to lose two games in a row and many attribute that fact to the culture changes forged by Marrone.

 “I think a big part of that is the culture that Doug has kind of created here,” quarterback Blake Bortles said. “That and some of the guys we’ve brought in, like Calais (Campbell), they’ve been outspoken leaders.

 “So you no longer have that mindset of, ‘Oh, here we go again.’ It’s more like, ‘That’s not who we are. That’s not how we play football. Let’s forget about it, make the corrections, move on and get back to doing what we do best.’’’

What the Jaguars (8-4) do best it seems is bounce back in a big way from their losses. Each of the four they’ve suffered so far has been followed up immediately not just by a victory but by a route.

The Jaguars average margin of victory in the games they’ve won following a loss is 26.3 points, and they have yet to score less than 27 points or surrender more than 10 in any of those games so far this year.

Their latest such victory, of course, came last Sunday, when the Jaguars bounced back from their 27-24 loss to the Cardinals in Arizona by taming the Colts 30-10 at EverBank Stadium.

It was another example, Marrone said, of the Jaguars players finding a way to move on quickly from the loss and not only identify the mistakes that led to it but effectively correct them.

 “I think in order to be able to do that you’ve got to kind of shake it off quickly,’’ Marrone said. “I think if you let it linger for a long period of time then you never really start working ahead to the upcoming game.

 “But our players, I think our players have been able to do a good job of realizing what’s gone wrong in the game (they lost), come back in here, be accountable, make those corrections and then it’s ‘Let’s get ourselves started and get back on the winning track.’’’

 The Jaguars were an organization in need of a major correction when Marrone took them over late last year. They weren’t much different when the season started this year.

Marrone inherited a team littered with underachievers, including a quarterback no one was truly confident in, and a Super Bowl winning coach looking over his shoulder and calling all the shots.

Those factors combined to make Marrone’s job one of the least attractive in the industry, but by pushing the right buttons, Marrone has done what few thought possible in Jacksonville.

He’s made the Jaguars winners.

Roy Cummings is a native of Chicago, Illinois who grew up in the suburb of Lombard. He and his family later moved to Lakeland, Florida, where Roy attended high school at Kathleen High. He graduated from the University of South Florida with a Bachelor's Degree in Mass Communications in 1983 and immediately went to work for the Tampa Tribune. After five years working in a Polk County bureau covering everything from high school sports to college football to the Orlando Magic of the NBA, Roy moved back to Tampa and became the Tribune's first beat writer for the Tampa Bay Lightning, covering the team from its inception through the first eight years on the ice. He was then moved to the Buccaneers beat, where he stayed until the paper was folded in May, 2016. A two-time Florida Sports Writer of the Year, Roy has extensive experience covering all Tampa professional sports teams, including the Tampa Bay Rays.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars “cornerstone” player for 2018?

Florida Football Insiders

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Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The third installment of our “cornerstone” players series takes us to North Florida. And, as the Jaguars get ready to start up 2018, we wondered which impact player would be the one to build around.

You could make arguments for last year’s top free agent acquisition defensive tackle Calais Campbell, or lock down corner Jalen Ramsey, as being that player. However, it’s a player on the offensive side of the ball that appears to be everything that Jacksonville could have hoped for in a running back. That running back is Leonard Fournette.

Fournette, whom the Jags took fourth overall in the draft, is fantastic physical talent at 6’0 230lbs. with a blend of speed and power. And in his debut season, repeatedly showed why you would want to have your offense centered on his ability pound on a defense.

He made a tremendous impact from the beginning of the Jags breakout 2017 with a 100 yard game in the opening win at Houston, and three more 100 yard games in the first nine.

There was lull in Fournette’s productivity due an ankle injury and he also missed a game in Indianapolis due disciplinary reasons, but eventually, Fournette got back on track. He ran for 109 yards and 3 TDs in Jacksonville’s statement win over Seattle in December that clinched the first playoff spot for Jacksonville in 11 seasons.

Then, in the post season Fournette was just okay against the Bills in the AFC Wildcard game with 57 yards on 21 carries. However the next week in Pittsburgh, Fournette set the tone early and often with two first quarter TDs. He finished with 109 yards and 3 rushing TDs, and Jacksonville stunned the Steelers to advance to the AFC Championship Game.

The Jags sledgehammer back scored another early TD and finished with 76 yards rushing as the Patriots rallied to win 24-20 scoring in the final three minutes to knock the Jaguars out of the Superbowl.

Of course there will be great scrutiny on the play of quarterback Blake Bortles, and rightfully so.

However, much of the Jaguars success offensively, the identity of what they want to do, will be centered around Leonard Fournette.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Why is Jalen Ramsey Twitter feuding with NFL Network analyst?

Florida Football Insiders

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Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

There is no mistaking that Jaguars defensive back Jalen Ramsey is talented, and in 2017 he was named as an All-Pro by his peers and most recenlty in the player polled “Top 100.” So, that’s a validation that doesn’t need a whole lot else.

Yet, an NFL Network analyst and a former NFL defensive back himself, is questioning part of his game.

And, Jalen Ramsey got annoyed. Like, really annoyed.

It all began when, Bucky Brooks, who hosts a successful podcast and appears regularly on the NFL Network questioned another player, DB Casey Hayward of the Chargers, and whether he was a “transcendent talent” in coverage.

The exchanges with Hayward on Twitter Thursday went on for a bit and then, Ramsey jumped in here:

 

And, when Brooks tweeted about Ramsey and why he was drafted two years ago in the top five by Jacksonville, things cranked up on social media:

Next, Ramsey questioned whether Brooks believes Ramsey is only a product of the Jaguars “defensive system” and not of his ability to shutdown the opposing team’s top wideout, one on one:

Brooks referenced former fellow Noles All American and Pro Football Hall of Famer, Deion Sanders as one of those rare “lock down” corners, and of course, that someone that Ramsey, two years removed from FSU, wants to be compared to with his own game.

Brooks then explained further about his own analysis and teams/GMs/personnel executives thinking:

In the end, Ramsey, who is not bashful about expressing his opinions on or off the field, finally gave some props to Brooks for having an informed opinion:

The bottom line is that analysts get paid to analyze. And the good ones are always soliciting the opinions of others, who are actually coaching and working in the NFL Front office.

And further, if Ramsey keeps “locking down” the likes of the Texans DeAndre Hopkins, and the Colts T.Y. Hilton, who he sees twice a year, then he will continue to get the respect he wants. And, he’ll get the second contract dollars that come with it, too.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

NFL Network will show Jaguars preseason game at Minnesota nationally

Florida Football Insiders

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Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Coming off a tremendous surprise turnaround season that included a division win and two playoff victories, the Jaguars have everyone in North Florida buzzing for 2018. And the NFL Network is interested enough that it has announced it will be showing their second preseason game, at the Vikings, to the nation on Saturday August 18th.

This information was included in the NFL’s announcement that NFL Network will televise a total of 15 preseason games live, nationally:

The Jaguars will practice against the Vikings in Minnesota on Wednesday and Thursday (8/15-16) prior to playing the game at U.S. Bank Stadium. Minnesota, who won the NFC North and made the NFC Championship Game last year, signed arguably the top free agent on the market last March. That’s when they inked former Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins to a massive three year fully guaranteed $84 million deal.

Jacksonville will open the preseason the previous week against the NFC South champion Saints at newly renamed TIAA Bank Field in North Florida.

The good news in addition to the practice time with the Vikes, most of the starters on both sides of the ball will see action into the second quarter, if not halftime of the second preseason game.

This will be good work for QB Blake Bortles and his new assortment of targets like WR Donte Moncrief and TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who both signed with the Jags in March.

And for the stout Jaguars defense led by DT Calais Campbell, LB Telvin Smith and CB Jalen Ramsey (all of whom made the Pro Bowl last year) will get a good opening half challenge from Cousins, and receivers Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen. It will also be curious to see if second year former FSU star running back Dalvin will be fully recovered from his ACL tear. And, we’ll see if the Vikings want to give him some work or rest him completely in August.

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