ORLANDO – Doug Marrone discussed first – and biggest – things first.
When speaking to writers Monday at the 2018 NFL Annual Meeting, the first and most-pressing topic for the Jaguars' head coach was the team's biggest offseason acquisition.
That's guard Andrew Norwell.
Norwell, a first-team Associated Press All-Pro selection with the Carolina Panthers last season, signed with the Jaguars this month as an unrestricted free agent. And Marrone said without question there was a lot about Norwell that fit and made sense.
"When you're looking at first-day free agency, you're looking for players obviously who can come in and help you – and just make your team better," Marrone said Monday afternoon at the Ritz-Cartlon Orlando, Grand Lakes.
Marrone said Norwell not only does that, he does it in a way that makes sense considering how the Jaguars want to play.
"We try to keep it very simple for our players: we want to win the physical battle, we want to win the turnover battle and we want to find a way to get into the fourth quarter and be in a situation to try to find a way to win the game," Marrone said. "That hasn't changed for us.
"So, when we start to watch tape and we start saying, 'What's the first criteria we're looking for in a player …' we want to make sure he's physical, especially up front. When you look at Andrew on tape, that's what you saw. You saw a physical player.''
Marrone also discussed the self-made element of Norwell's career. He originally signed with Carolina as an undrafted free agent from Ohio State following the 2014 NFL Draft and has missed just three games in four professional seasons.
"He earned everything and earned this contract," Marrone said. "He still is a young player who can get better, and he can help people around him get better, and we feel like our people around him can help him get better – going against our defensive line, and things of that nature.
"We were fortunate to get him and he felt very comfortable with us."
The Jaguars, after winning their first AFC South title last season and advancing to their first AFC Championship Game in 18 seasons, in mid-March signed six unrestricted free agents in addition to Norwell: wide receiver Donte Moncrief, tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, safety Don Carey III, cornerback D.J. Hayden, safety Cody Davis, tight end Niles Paul.
They also re-signed wide receiver Marqise Lee and linebacker Lerentee McCray.
Also since the end of last season, middle linebacker Paul Posluszny announced his retirement while the team was unable to re-sign wide receiver Allen Robinson and cornerback Aaron Colvin in free agency. Robinson signed with Chicago and Colvin signed with Houston, with backup quarterback Chad Henne signing as an unrestricted free agent with Kansas City and offensive guard Patrick Omameh signing as a UFA with the New York Giants.
Marrone was asked Monday if he liked his roster entering April.
"On National Signing Day [in college football], there's not one coach who's ever gone out there and said, 'Gosh, this class stinks,''' Marrone said. "After the draft, there's not one coach who goes out and says, 'I wish we took this guy …'
"The one thing I do like is we can go out and play a game. We don't have a backup quarterback and I get that, but we can go out and play a football game right now and I like being able to do that. I never feel good if you need a position and you have to get it through free agency or through the draft and it's someone you need to play for you right now.
"I feel good about that. On paper, it looks good, but it doesn't mean anything. I'll have a better sense when the work's put in.''