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2017 NFL Annual Meetings: A change in conversation


PHOENIX, Ariz. – Doug Marrone wants some of the conversation changed.

The Jaguars' first-year head coach made that much clear during the AFC Coaches Breakfast at the 2017 NFL Annual Meeting Tuesday.

The Jaguars throughout last season were referred to as a "talented, young team" while finishing 3-13. Marrone said he addressed the "talented-team" tag when he took over as interim coach with two games remaining last season – and he said what he told the team at the time still holds true.

"Like I told the players last year, 'When do we every get tired of people saying we have all this talent?''' Marrone said at the Arizona Biltmore Tuesday. "Because the more people say we have talent means the more we haven't won."

Marrone said he challenged players, telling them, "Let's go ahead and let's do this: Let's maximize our talent. Let's take that talent and convert it to wins so people can say, 'Shoot, that's a pretty good football team. The Jacksonville Jaguars are a pretty good football team.'

"People only say that after you start winning. When you're not winning, people are going to say, 'Well, those guys have some talent,' or, 'Those guys are this or that.'

"I told players, 'If that makes you feel good, you're not in the right seat. You want people to say you're a good football team and there's only one way to do that. That's by winning football games.'''

Also at the meetings:

*Jaguars Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin told LIVE Monday he didn't notice people receiving him differently this week in his new role. Coughlin had attended about 20 spring NFL Annual Meetings as head coach of the Jaguars and New York Giants, but this was his first since re-joining the Jaguars in January. …

*However he was received by his peers, the two-time Super Bowl-winning coach seems of endless fascination to media. Marrone was asked about Coughlin often in the hour he spent talking Tuesday at the AFC Coaches Breakfast. Marrone said he has been struck by many things about Coughlin in nearly three months working together, and said one thing that stands out is the time Coughlin takes with people who approach him at public events such as the owners' meetings and last month's NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. "All the kids, and everyone who wants an autograph and everyone who wants to talk to him … coach will spend time with them," Marrone said. "It's something we all have to do, but a lot of people sometimes don't do that. That's a great part of him that maybe people on the outside wouldn't know, but it's something I've been able to see on a daily basis." ….

*Among the more entertaining sections of Marrone's time with the media Tuesday was when he discussed what he calls Coughlin. It's "Coach" – and Marrone emphasized that it's never "Tom." "I could not do that, me personally," Marrone said. "I'm sure Coach doesn't mind. I'm sure he doesn't worry about what people call him.'' …

*Perhaps the most entertaining "coach/title" story Marrone told this week was about offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, who served under Marrone as offensive coordinator at Syracuse in 2011 and 2012 and with the Bills from 2013 and 2014. Hackett at that time called Marrone "Coach Marrone" and continued to do so in 2015 when Hackett was the Jaguars' quarterbacks coach and Marrone served as the Jaguars' assistant head coach-offense/offensive line coach. Then, Hackett took over as offensive coordinator seven games into the 2016 season. "All of sudden, when he was elevated to offensive coordinator, we were in an offensive meeting and he called me, 'Doug,''' Marrone said with a laugh. "I said, 'Whoa. Wait a minute here.' I said, 'You better be careful.' He said, 'Well, the guys give me a lot of crap because I always call you coach.' I said, 'I'm just telling you – you better be consistent with me. You better not change.' … Now, I'm his boss again. I said, 'You ever call me Doug again, you're out.'" …

*The direction of the Jaguars under Marrone, Coughlin and General Manager David Caldwell has been made clear each time any of the three has spoken this offseason. Coughlin has talked several times of wanting the word "grit" to define the Jaguars, and Marrone echoed that sentiment Tuesday. He said his philosophy is to have the Jaguars play to the team's strengths, "but if you're saying hey, philosophically … good defense, special teams, run the ball, play action … I think a lot of people would say that's veteran football and I think those are the principles. When you talk about those principles, you're going to be a tough team, a more physical team. That's what we're trying to do. We're trying to find ways we can practice and play and be a much tougher football team." …

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