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Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone: Friday, December 11, 2020

(On DE Dawuane Smoot's growth over the years) "Well, I'll tell you, it's been probably a different road. You know what I'm saying, John [Reid]? Meaning that when we first brought him in, we had a—we visualized him putting on weight, playing big end and it actually went the opposite way, where he was losing weight. So, in the beginning, we were trying to figure out like, 'Hey what's the weight? What are you going to play? What are you going to do? Where you going to move?' And then, I would say probably after the 2018 season maybe—and I might have my timing wrong on this one—but then all of a sudden, the weight started coming back on and he really started to do a really good job. And I think last year in 2019, I think you saw where we got a lot of quality inside rushing, pass rushing, out of him. Which is something that we needed, we really didn't have much from there. And he's able, obviously, strong enough to go on the outside and do very well against the run; meaning being able to hold a point and do things like that and get the job done there. But just a guy that's been getting better with his skill, pass rush skill. I think that he's always been able to defend the run well, at the right position. But you see an increase in his pass rush repertoire, for lack of a better word, as far as all the different moves that he's been working on. He's good with his hands, last week, he won with a rip technique where he got the guy turned. And you know, he's made a nice progression, and like a lot of people, there's been a progression in the right direction, but not as fast as, probably, we both want it to be. But we're happy, he's playing at a good level now and we're looking forward to him to be disruptive and make things happen for us as we wind down the end of this schedule."

(On whether Titans RB Derrick Henry has the best stiff arm) "Yeah, well, I'll tell you, it's unique, because I think when I first started coaching, a lot of times when we faced good running backs that had great size. Like when I was with New York [Jets] and we would face Pittsburgh with Jerome Bettis and Duce Staley, those guys are big running backs. A lot of times, it's 'Hey, get a lot of people to the football and make sure you wrap up, make sure you get around their leg.' You know, those were kind of the coaching points for a long period of time and then it was just teaching the technique of the tackle; of how to actually tackle, which there's different techniques that people teach. I think now, it's become—because it is such a weapon that now, you have to strategically go against that. And I see more and more teams on Sunday, when I look at the tape, different types of techniques to handle these stiff arms. Where you see someone knocking the stiff arm down, then having to drive through the thighs which are eyes up, things like that. I think it's pretty unique that he's done such a great job of that. Because he is long, it's not like anyone can go out there and do it, you have to have some length. Because if you have short arms and you stiff arm someone, they're just going to run right—like DiRoc [Mike DiRocco]—you're just going to tackle him with those short arms. But if he has those long arms, I think that you've got to come up with something, because it's a weapon. It's something that you have to defeat, it's part of what he does. So, it is unique, I think, as the game just keeps evolving."

(On whether this game is a rivalry and whether every divisional opponent is a rival) "I think there is [a rivalry]. And from when I started, I think we could think about even the time when we were kids and grandma's school, or even around the block, people had different teams on different blocks. Some teams were more of a rival than let's say others. If you had to pass by them every day in the lunch room, and that's who you were playing against, you're going to make sure that you go. So, I think that's all in us. I think that [at] Syracuse, early on it was Penn State. And you can't really choose who your rival is, it's got to be something that comes with, I believe, tradition and college. I think college has done a great job because the history of these rivals and the recruiting basis has remained pretty much the same—it's more nationally now. And the fan base has remained there and that's what created a lot of rivalries. And obviously, with Syracuse it was Penn State, then they left and then it was West Virginia and they left. So, I'm not sure what all these conference—how all the conferences go. But you still have these great rivalries around the country and the SEC, the Big Ten and the Pack 12. Then, I think when you get into the NFL, then there's such a high concentration on the fastest way to get yourself in the dance, in the playoffs, is to win your division. So, I think a lot goes into these division games and I think that for—it's funny like, sometimes you'll see a team that has a poor record and a team that's really doing well, but if they're within the same division, it's kind of like you can kind of throw that stuff out a little bit. It's not like a cross-conference or a cross-division game. So, I do think there's a lot of emphasis on—not particularly one team, unless it's the top team that you're always looking to knock off. But every team in your division becomes almost like a, for lack of a better term, like a rivalry type game."

(On the rivalry and whether it's difficult not being as close to the fans this year) "I think it definitely helps. I'm never going to deny that the energy that you get from your fans against a division opponent or a rivalry, or however you want to say it, is something that definitely boosts the performance, I believe–or the atmosphere, probably, more so than the performance of the game. And I think that definitely helps. I think that for as far as the players, whether the roster is changing 40 percent or not, when it's in division, they might not know the history like a fan will or the people that cover the team; kind of what you've brought up before. But they understand the circumstances of it because the one thing that you always try to do, whether you're in a college conference or whether you're in a division, is you want to make sure that the teams in your division know that you can beat them. Because over a long period time—and that's one of the things in 2017, we wound up winning the division, but after that, we've lost to some of these teams and you don't want to get into that mode where your team takes the field and you guys haven't beat them, because you're playing them twice a year. And you've got to get that taken care of first, before you can even move on to anything else, as far as winning the division and winning these games and, at worst, getting a split with them."

(On OL Cam Robinson's performance overall) "Yeah, I think Cam, he's been out a lot, I think he's worked extremely hard in this offseason. I think not being around here, obviously, hurts not just him, but everyone. And I think it's, to put it into general terms, I look around the whole league at the line play. I mean, that's the one position that it's hard to motivate yourself to go out there and hit a sled, there's not many available. Or to get out there or to work on pass sets, or to have someone that has some high-level skill to be able to go against and see. So, technically, it seems like it's much harder where guys can get together, throw 7-on-7, cover and then obviously, the skill practice becomes involved. I think what we've seen from Cam this year, we've seen flashes of what we expect of him, where he's done a very good job. And there's been a lot of flashes in almost every game, but the consistency is what you're trying to drive for, and he's working at that every single day to get that better. He's got a couple things that he's working on. If he can clean a couple things up, I think the consistency will rise."

(On OL Ben Bartch's growth) "Well, I mean, that's what we've done. We've kind of gotten him in there and then, I think now all of a sudden, it's kind of a benefit. I think early on it's very easy to stop, sometimes you do want to take a step back, kind of like we did with Jake [Luton]—but there's always more on the quarterback's plate than there is on maybe another position. So, I thought early on Ben did a nice job. We saw, we knew he was athletic, we knew he can do a good job in the running game. Like I said before, that's something that usually does carry over from the college to the NFL, but it's the pass game that's tough. And I think he struggled a little bit early, just with a couple of moves. For him, he's seen a [heck] of a lot more different things than he did coming from a small school, so he's seeing different guys. I think this is a huge test now for him this week. I mean, make no mistake about it. He's going against [Jeffery] Simmons and DaQuan Jones. I mean Simmons is one [heck] of a football player [in] Tennessee. So, it's going to be interesting to watch and really see his growth. I'm probably not going to be able to tell you after the game, like when you guys say, 'Well, how do you think—?' I mean, I know someone is going to ask that, that's one I'm probably going to watch and really look at and see how he's doing afterwards. But that's a big matchup now for him and I think it's going to show a lot. And I think at the end of the day, whether it's good or bad, he's a tough guy. He's got a good mindset about him, there's no doubt that he'll be a better football player after he plays this game."

(On Titans RB Derrick Henry's function of improvement from November through the rest of the season) "Well, I think, I don't want to take anything away from his ability. I don't want to diminish what his ability, to be able to maintain, or even—not maintain, to be able to increase saying as the season goes along. I've always believed, personally for me, and I learned this a long time ago when I was with the Jets, specifically, maybe because it was my first job and it was the first time I was introduced to it. One of the things when you start playing in cool weather and you start playing in all these different elements, the one thing that we used to always try to say—and we were a physical football team and a playoff football team—the one thing that we always wanted to say was, 'Hey listen, let them prove to us that they can tackle in December and January.' Once you get to the end of the season and you get into the playoffs, that's the one thing that you want to see because you're dealing with teams. A lot of teams—no one is full healthy, everyone is bumped up, you know, bumps and bruises and what not. Sometimes you see—you've got to make decisions, this is a big—it's like the Jerome Bettis I was talking about, and Duce Staley, those guys. I mean, those defensive guys, you've got to make decisions. You know when you come up there and you're going to tackle this player, that has generated this great power, it's going to hurt now. It's not like –so, whether you want to get into clichés, you want to be the hammer and not the nail. Sometimes it doesn't work, I mean, you're going to be the nail and you've got to just suck it up and go ahead and make the tackle. But I do think that players that run with his style and his size, you do see that as long as they can take care of their body and he seems to have done a great job of that. And that's why there's so much emphasis on tackling him and tackling him and the technique of tackling him. And I think that's the key part of it. And I—probably out of all the players, at least from my experience as a head coach or my experience as a coach in general, just listening to the other side of the ball, I probably haven't seen more of an emphasis on how to tackle someone than it has been Derrick Henry."