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View from the O-Zone: Really loud, really clear

Posted Apr 18, 2017

Oehser: If anything is clear as the 2017 offseason program begins, it’s that Jaguars players have heard the message of the new regime – and that they’re buying in

JACKSONVILLE – And so it began. Again.

The Jaguars’ 2017 offseason program that officially began on Monday really got going a day later – in a public way, at least. And the biggest takeaway from Tuesday’s first media access of the ’17 offseason was hardly unexpected:

The message of football leadership – i.e., Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin and Head Coach Doug Marrone – has been heard by Jaguars players.

Actually, it has been heard loud and clear.

Really, really loud.

And really, really clear.

“It’s definitely a lot tighter,” defensive tackle Malik Jackson said. “The ship’s run a lot tighter, but from our record the past few years, I think that’s what we need. I think everybody’s buying in and whatever Coach [Marrone] says and whatever Coach Tom [Coughlin] says is what we do. That’s what it is.”

Jackson and three other veterans spoke to the media Tuesday. Because Monday was the first time Marrone could talk football with players since assuming the head-coaching role in January, and because this week is the first time players have convened en masse at EverBank Field since Coughlin returned to his current role on that same franchise-altering January day …

Well, let’s just say there are a lot of firsts going on at the ‘Bank this week.

And a lot of introducing going on, too. And a lot of re-starting.

And a lot of …

Well, it’s just a lot of new, and that made Tuesday the first day to get any kind of an official feel for what players are seeing and saying.  And so far, they’re liking what they’re seeing.

Linebacker Paul Posluszny called Marrone’s approach similar to what he experienced at Penn State under then-Head Coach Joe Paterno. Posluszny talked about discipline, attention to detail and the idea that “things are going to be done in a very specific, very clean way.”

“It’s great, really,” Posluszny said. “It will be a very positive change for all of us.”

Marrone during his January introductory press conference said players needed to be working to be in shape at that point, and he has reiterated several times since then that the Jaguars moving forward will in large part be about working hard enough to deserve to win.

Calais Campbell, a two-time Pro Bowl defensive lineman who signed with the Jaguars last month as an unrestricted free agent from the Arizona Cardinals, was asked if there was a message that Marrone had sent during his first meeting with the team Monday.

Campbell laughed, and said Marrone sent many messages.

“I think the biggest thing is that we’re going to put the work in to be as good as we can be,” Campbell said. “It doesn’t happen just by showing up. It’s about the way we run it.”

Campbell. Posluszny. Jackson. Linebacker Telvin Smith. Those four didn’t speak Tuesday by accident. They’re four of the more respected players in the locker room. Unsurprisingly, their theme Tuesday when speaking about the weeks and months that lay ahead was in lockstep with Marrone, with Coughlin, with General Manager David Caldwell. All have spoken of a new direction for the franchise in recent months. A new regime. A new approach. A new era.

The time is now. The old is out and the new is about work. And winning.

The message had been sent and reiterated in various forms in the media in recent weeks, but there’s a difference between hearing something from afar and hearing it in person. Players heard it in person this week, and they saw it, too.

The sense Tuesday was they didn’t mind what they heard or saw. Jackson, Smith and Posluszny all were here for 3-13 last season; Posluszny and Smith were here for a lot of double-digit loss seasons before that.

“Every player’s mindset is, ‘Let’s go,’’’ Smith said. “It’s like a new start for everybody. It’s not just new coaches; it’s a new start for players also with these coaches and with this organization. We’ve pressed the reset button and now, ‘Let’s go.’”

Whatever it takes … that felt like a theme Thursday, and Campbell – the lone newcomer to talk Thursday – said he saw “whatever it takes” in a lot of players early this week.

“You can feel the intensity,” Campbell said. “You just look around, and see the guys’ faces. Everybody is really taking it in. They’re engaged, and that means a lot. They’re into the program and what the coaches are preaching.”

Offseason enthusiasm, of course, is one thing. Whether real improvement will happen only time will tell.

But Coughlin and Marrone have made clear all offseason that there are certain unassailable truths that must be made clear to all involved – truths about work, discipline, toughness. And if players hadn’t heard before, they did this week.

Loud and clear.

Really, really loud – and really, really clear.


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