JACKSONVILLE – Doug Marrone sent multiple messages Monday.
One message was that he appreciates – and is very ready for – the opportunity to continue into a third full season as the Jaguars’ head coach.
“I’m excited to prove I can turn this thing around,” Marrone said.
Another message was that much must be done toward that end, and the second message dominated Marrone’s end-of-season press conference at TIAA Bank Field.
“I can promise you this: it’s not going to be for a lack of effort,” Marrone said a day after the Jaguars’ 20-3 loss to the Houston Texans in the 2018 regular-season finale – the team’s 10th loss in 12 games to end the 2018 season. “We’ll change this around.”
Marrone, General Manager David Caldwell and Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin will return as the franchise’s leadership trio for 2019. Owner Shad Khan announced that in a statement at the end of the Jaguars’ 20-3 loss to the Houston Texans in Sunday’s 2018 regular-season finale.
The Jaguars, after winning the AFC South and advancing to the AFC Championship Game in 2017, lost 10 of their final 12 games in 2018. They finished 5-11.
They also finished with multiple key players on injured reserve, and amid a controversy over the sideline and off-field behavior of running back Leonard Fournette.
Culture was a major topic following the loss to the Texans Sunday. Marrone again addressed it Monday, saying while he didn’t plan to share with the media his specific plan to address the issue, there was a plan to meet with ownership and management regarding the topic.
“I do have some thoughts,” he said. “I’m going to put pen to paper to those thoughts, because I have to present them to our owner and management.”
Marrone said he emphasized in his end-of-the-year meeting Monday with players the importance of “availability and coachability,” presenting statistics showing the benefits of meeting offseason workout goals and attending voluntary offseason organized team activities.
“Your body in the game of football is a commodity,” Marrone said. “You have to take care of it. You need availability and coachability.”
Marrone said while OTAs and offseason work are not mandatory, they remain critical.
“What’s a proven fact is when you’re working against teammates and competing against them, you’ll perform higher than if you’re not with them,” Marrone said. “That’s been the case since the beginning. We talked about 100 percent [offseason] participation from our players in Phase 1, Phase 2 – and obviously OTAs.”
Also on Monday:
*Marrone addressed the sideline behavior Sunday of Fournette, along with that of running back T.J. Yeldon. Coughlin in a statement released Sunday called the pair’s behavior “disrespectful, selfish” and “unbecoming that of a professional football player.” Yeldon was in uniform but did not play. Fournette was inactive with a foot/ankle injury. Both remained on the bench throughout the game, seemingly disengaged with and disinterested in what was happening on the field. Yeldon will become an unrestricted free agent in March and is unlikely to return, whereas Fournette – the No. 4 overall selection in the 2017 NFL Draft – has two years remaining on his contract. “It’s disappointing what occurred the other day,” Marrone said. “We have taken care of it from a disciplinary standpoint, but those things remain between the club and the player.” Fournette, who missed a game as a rookie because of a team rules violation, missed eight of the team’s 16 games this season. He missed six games with a hamstring injury, one because of a suspension following his involvement in an on-field altercation in Buffalo in Week 12 and Sunday’s game because of the foot issue. “When you take a look at availability and you play less than 30 percent of the snaps, it would be disappointing as I would hope it would be disappointing to any player that wasn’t able to be available,” Marrone said. “That hurts because you do put a lot of time in.” Marrone on Monday confirmed the Jaguars voided the guarantees in Fournette’s rookie contract following his suspension, a move that would make it possible to part ways with Fournette with more limited salary-cap and financial repercussions. …
*Marrone also addressed his philosophy on team captains, a philosophy that was a topic this season because of Fournette’s suspension. Marrone at the time of the suspension said he didn’t take the role away from Fournette because it was voted upon by players. Marrone said he planned to “wait and see” how he would handle captaincies moving forward. “That’s down the road for me,” he said. “It’s not a priority right now for what has to change because I think it’s the foundation [that has to change] and where I have made mistakes and there were cracks in it.” …
*Marrone said an offseason focus will be reducing unsportsmanlike-conduct-type penalties. “There are things that are truly unacceptable,” he said. “You don’t want a taunting, you don’t want to throw a punch, you don’t want to leave the bench area. We can go down the list of things that are not [acceptable], and I think that’s one of the things that I have to do a better job of to make sure that we understand that if we do those things, this is what’s going to happen.” Marrone said he plans to address penalties with players differently than he has done previously. “That has to stop,” Marrone said. “It’s not who I am. It’s not who we are, and it definitely affects winning and losing even though the analytics don’t show it.”
*Marrone said he expects to move quickly to decide on a new offensive coordinator. Quarterbacks coach Scott Milanovich handled play-calling duties for the final five weeks of the season following the dismissal of offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett. The Jaguars finished the season ranked 27th in the NFL in total offense, producing his 119 yards and six first downs against Houston Sunday. The Jaguars finished the season with four Week 1 starting offensive linemen on injured reserve with two other linemen, tight end Austin Seferian Jenkins, running back Corey Grant and wide receiver Marqise Lee also finishing the season on injured reserve. “Availability, coachability and scheme,” Marrone said of the offense. “When I talk about that, we have to do a better job with the players we have available. We have to do a better job if those players don’t become available, what we’re going to do next. I think that’s an important thing when we look at it, and I think that was a mistake that I made this year.”