PHOENIX, Ariz. – The head coach spoke a long time and covered many topics.
That’s what the coaches/media breakfast at the NFL Annual Meeting is about – and Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone gave an overall optimistic, forward-moving impression during his hour-long media session on Tuesday.
He particularly likes what the Jaguars have done in a 2019 offseason that is featuring change in coaching staff, personnel and approach.
“You’re always looking to get better and adding people,” Marrone said Tuesday morning at the ’19 Annual Meeting at the Arizona Biltmore. “You’re talking about positions where you may not have someone you’re comfortable with, or you may have to replace someone.
“As you go through this process, you feel good that you feel like you’re always working to get better.”
Marrone on Tuesday discussed multiple issues, saying he feels good about wide receiver Marqise Lee’s rehabilitation from a serious knee injury, that the defense could have different feel next season and that he continues to feel good about new offensive coordinator John DeFilippo’s relationship with new quarterback Nick Foles.
Marrone spent several minutes discussing Lee and the impact of losing the veteran for the entire 2018 season to a preseason injury. He said Lee is rehabilitating in California and is considered to be ahead of schedule.
“He said he feels good,” Marrone said. “We know it’s going to be something that’s going to be late in the preseason – that type of situation. Here’s what I like about Marqise Lee: Every time I talk to him he’s feeling better, has a smile on his face and he’s dying to get back. When you see players who are injured and they have that type of mentality and expression, that makes you feel good as a coach.”
Marrone, as he did Tuesday, on Wednesday discussed the positives of DeFilippo and Foles having worked together in 2017 in Philadelphia. DeFilippo was the Eagles’ quarterbacks coach that season, a season in which Foles quarterbacked the Eagles to a victory in Super Bowl LII.
“There is an area there of trust,” Marrone said. “There is an area of being familiar with each other. I think there are people that you can rely on in the building saying, ‘Hey, how is Nick?’ ‘He is great.’ Yes, he would know. He has been with him before.
“You get a little bit of a comfort level, but you cannot take it for granted.”
Marrone on Tuesday also discussed multiple other additions made during the offseason, saying he continues to feel strongly about new offensive line coach George Warhop.
“I just feel really comfortable with knowing how he’s going to approach that room, and what he’s going to do,” Marrone said.
DeFilippo and Warhop were among multiple coaching staff changes this offseason, changes that included the hiring of Terry Robiskie as running backs coach, Jason Rebrovich as defensive line coach Tim Walton as cornerbacks coach, Joe Danna as safeties coach and longtime NFL head coach and defensive coordinator Dom Capers as senior defensive assistant.
Todd Wash next season will enter his fourth season as defensive coordinator, but Marrone said a defense that has ranked in the Top 6 in the NFL each of the past three seasons won’t remain status quo.
“We’re talking about putting them in different positions, looking at different things,” Marrone said. “It’s not an overhaul. It’s going to have our base philosophy. But we’re looking to do more, honestly. We’re trying to do more.
“I think last year I learned my lesson on the offensive side where I thought I did a poor job, that we just want to be prepared in case we do have unfortunately some injuries and that we are able to do some things to be able to help our players. Maybe some of those things will be helpful for us just from a scheme standpoint.”
While Foles has been the major offseason acquisition, the team since the March 13 beginning of free agency have signed tight end Geoff Swaim from the Dallas Cowboys, wide receiver Chris Conley from the Kansas City Chiefs, offensive tackle Cedric Ogbuehi from the Cincinnati Bengals and linebacker Jake Ryan from the Green Bay Packers. The team also re-signed free agent tight end James O’Shaughnessy and free-agent right guard A.J. Cann.
Marrone said he feels Conley’s best football is in the future – “We’re excited about that,” he said - and he said he likes Swaim’s versatility at tight end.
Marrone said the offseason as a whole is in the same vein as the past two seasons in which he has worked with Jaguars Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin and General Manager David Caldwell.
“You can become stagnant … where you are looking around you and you are watching teams in your division and you are saying, ‘They all have gotten a lot better. What do we do?’ You feel like you haven’t done anything or enough,” Marrone said. “I feel like that is not how we have operated since I have been together with Coach Coughlin and Dave Caldwell.
“We are constantly trying to better the team no matter what direction.”