JACKSONVILLE – What faces Jaguars players now isn't necessarily the fun stuff.
That's OK with Doug Marrone, and the Jaguars' second-year head coach explained why throughout his offseason-opening media availability Tuesday morning:
The fun stuff comes in the fall, during the regular season. That's the goal, anyway.
What comes now is the work to get there.
"I'm one of those guys, 'Let's be where our butt is;' in other words, 'Let's be in the moment right now,''' Marrone said.
Here's where the Jaguars were Tuesday:
Day 2 of Phase 1 of the 2018 offseason program, which began Monday at EverBank Field. This is the official beginning of nine weeks of offseason workouts, a period that ends with three weeks of voluntary organized team activities in May and June – followed by mid-June's three-day mandatory minicamp.
None of it is as glamorous as, say, making the AFC Championship Game – which the Jaguars did last season for the first time in 18 years.
But Jaguars defensive end Calais Campbell on Tuesday agreed with Marrone – that to build on last season the Jaguars first must work.
"The reset button is something you have to hit regardless," Campbell said. "Whether you were terrible or whether you were good it doesn't matter. We have to start over from the beginning and earn the right to be a successful team."
The Jaguars underwent change after a 24-20 loss to New England in January's AFC Championship Game. They signed front-line unrestricted free agents such as guard Andrew Norwell, wide receiver Donte Moncrief and nickel cornerback D.J. Hayden, allowed wide receiver Allen Robinson and nickel corner Aaron Colvin to leave as free agents and released tight end Marcedes Lewis and wide receiver Allen Hurns. Middle linebacker Paul Posluszny also retired following the season.
But much of the core of last year's AFC South title team returns, including six Pro Bowl selections: cornerbacks Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye, defensive tackle Malik Jackson, linebacker Telvin Smith, end Yannick Ngakoue and Campbell, a first-team Associated Press All-Pro defensive end and the runner up for 2017 AP AFC Defensive Player of the Year.
"That's always good to have, but we still have to start from Ground Zero and develop that chemistry," Campbell said. "I think maybe it builds quicker [because of continuity] but you have start at Ground Zero and then build. Hopefully we get further along by the time the season starts than we were last year, but we definitely have to start back at zero, regroup and take it one day at a time."
That was Marrone's focus when he spoke to the team Monday – that what is going on now is necessary to get to where the team wants to be in late December and January.
"If you're grabbing to the future and you're looking beyond, you're going to miss all of the small things you need to build a foundation," Marrone said. "This isn't any different than what I talked about last year. Basically, I'm talking to the players about, 'This is what we need to do. This is our Phase 1 goal; this is what we need to get done.' Then when get to Phase 2, it's Phase 2 – and Phase 3, it's Phase 3. …
"Working together always precedes winning together. That's a point I brought up with our players."
Phase 1 of the offseason program under NFL rules features strength and conditioning work only, with Phase 2 allowing individual on-field work and drills with no team work or offense-versus-defense drills. Phase 3's organized team activities – or, "OTAs" – allow 7-on-7, 9-on-7 and 11-on-11 work but no padded work or contact drills.
NFL offseason programs are voluntary except for the June minicamp. Marrone on Tuesday declined to specify Jaguars players in attendance, but said he has communicated with all players.
"I told the players, 'You have to be careful,''' Marrone said. "People are going to go back last year. Like I've said, when it comes to last year, we've kind of wrapped it in a box and put it there. There are lessons we've learned from it. We appreciate that. We appreciate the season. We appreciate what went on, but now we're 0-0.
"Before we even get to division, playoffs, first game of the year – whatever it may be – we've got to take all these steps before we get there. If we put our sights on those right now, we're going to miss something here in the beginning, building this foundation.
"For me, it's always been big on, 'Let's be where our butt is. Focus in. What do we have to do today to become a better football team?'''