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2017 NFL Annual Meetings: Definitely a 4-3


PHOENIX, Ariz. – The approaches will be different.

Doug Marrone on Tuesday said that will be the case in his first season as the Jaguars' head coach both offensively and defensively, and he also said this:

The Jaguars are definitely going to run mostly a 4-3 defense.

"From the standpoint of the front mechanics, yeah … it's still philosophically going to be a 4-3," Marrone said Tuesday during the AFC Coaches Breakfast at the 2017 NFL Annual Meetings at the Arizona Biltmore.

Marrone added, "With the way we're built now, we're built much better for the four down linemen and that's how we're building the team."

Marrone, who served as the Jaguars' assistant head coach-offense/offensive line coach from 2015 until serving as interim head coach in the last two games of last season, became the permanent head coach in early January. He retained Nathaniel Hackett as offensive coordinator and Todd Wash as defensive coordinator, and he discussed on Tuesday some of the changes in approach that could take place next season.

One change will be in offensive communication.

Hackett, who served as offensive coordinator under Marrone at Syracuse in 2011-2012 and with the Buffalo Bills from 2013-2014, served as the Jaguars' offensive coordinator in the final nine games of last season. But during that stretch the Jaguars essentially ran the same scheme with the same terminology used by Greg Olson, the offensive coordinator in 2015 and the first seven games of 2016.

"We're changing the way we communicate," Marrone said. "We're changing the way we call things, so from that standpoint it's a change. Obviously the last [nine weeks of last season] for Nathaniel, it was trying to manage Greg's offense with the quarterback [Blake Bortles].

"Now, we have an opportunity to put in the offense we feel is best for the Jacksonville Jaguars. That's what we did this offseason. It's one of those things where if you are successful it will be, 'Look at those changes they made; it was great.' If you're not, it will be, 'They didn't make any changes.'

"The point is, yes, we did make changes. We think it's going to help us, but at the same time we have to get the reps in practice and we have to be able to execute. We have to be able to have a great understanding of what's going on."

Marrone said changes were also made defensively, and he said a positive about Wash has been his ability to adapt the scheme.

"That's what I appreciated about Todd," Marrone said. "A lot of coaches, they'll try to fit that square peg into that round hole. When you do that, it's insanity. You just bang your head against the wall rather than saying, 'Hey, listen. Let's be smart about this. … If it's going to help our players, let's go ahead and do it.'

"I think that's the same philosophy that we have on defense. We are doing some things differently defensively that we feel can help us. There are some things we did a little bit last year that we felt we did a good job in and we want to see more."

Wash, the defensive coordinator last season, served as the Jaguars' defensive line coach in 2013 and 2014 and defensive line coach/run-game coordinator in 2015. The team under then-head coach Gus Bradley ran a hybrid 4-3/3-4 scheme with a pass-rushing defensive end linebacker known as a Leo.

That's a scheme similar to that used by the Seattle Seahawks under Pete Carroll – where Bradley was the defensive coordinator before taking the Jaguars' head coaching job – and the Atlanta Falcons under Dan Quinn. The Jaguars also played predominantly single-high safety in the defensive backfield.

"Obviously before it was like, 'Hey, this is the scheme we're running and this is the same scheme we came with from Seattle,'" Marrone said. "But we're starting to adopt some principles that are going to help our players more. We're starting put things in. We have a system in place, but the system is growing to help our players perform.

"That's what we're trying to do, is put more tools in it for our players and what they need to be successful."

Marrone said specific philosophical defensive changes likely will be more apparent in the secondary from a coverage standpoint. Asked if players such as defensive ends Dante Fowler Jr. and Yannick Ngakoue would still be pass-rushing down defensive linemen, Marrone said: "Yep. Absolutely."

"I've always liked a four-down line system – putting their hands on the ground … hey, go … go get them," Marrone said. "I think that's beneficial. Either way, whether you're four-down or three-down, as long as you're able to point the defense and have two guys on the outside, get that contain and force everything inside I think you're fine."

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