Marrone: “We’re in a tough situation”

Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone watches play during the first half of an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts, Sunday, Dec. 2, 2018, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone watches play during the first half of an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts, Sunday, Dec. 2, 2018, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

JACKSONVILLE – Under the circumstances, Doug Marrone expected the questions.

A day after an eighth loss in nine games, the Jaguars’ head coach on Friday discussed topics such as his job security and the team’s effort in a one-sided loss to the Tennessee Titans Thursday in the franchise’s lone prime-time appearance this season.

Topic No. 1:

Job security. Marrone was asked late Friday afternoon if he had discussed his with either Owner Shad Khan or Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin.

“The answer to that question is no,” Marrone said Friday, a day after the Jaguars’ 30-9 loss to the Titans at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tennessee, a loss that assured the team a losing season.

“The way I approach it is I just keep going as hard as I can until someone tells me otherwise. I don’t look for any type of assurances and I don’t ask for them. … I’m the type of person who just goes 100 miles an hour. We’re in a tough situation and I’m trying to get this team right.

“I’m not looking for that or asking for that. I’m trying to handle all my responsibility as a head coach and get this team to play better, to perform better.”

Topic No. 2: 

Effort. Marrone was asked why he thought the Jaguars’ level wasn’t better Thursday – four days after a 6-0 shutout victory over the Indianapolis Colts.

Marrone said he didn’t see a lack of effort, noting a goal-line stand by the defense in the second half with the Jaguars trailing 30-9.

“It shows the importance for them to go out and continue playing for 60 minutes,” Marrone said. “It’s hard to talk about a team with lack of effort when you saw things at the end of the game where they were fighting hard and were disappointed.”

Titans running back Derrick Henry rushed for a Titans franchise-record 238 yards and four touchdowns Thursday, the most single-game rushing yards the Jaguars ever have allowed to a single player. Henry scored on runs of 99, 54, 16 and three yards.

Marrone said Henry’s performance was more about poor tackling angles and technique than lack of effort.

“That’s the thing I look back on and say, ‘Where could I have done a better job?’’’ Marrone said. “I did a poor job (communicating a tackling plan).

Marrone added, “The biggest thing I was disappointed in was obviously the tackling.”

Henry, one of the NFL’s biggest, most-powerful runners, stiff-armed linebackers Leon Jacobs and Myles Jack and cornerback A.J. Bouye during the 99-yard run. Marrone reiterated Friday what he said after Thursday’s loss – that the Jaguars too often tried to tackle Henry too high. 

“What you see on the film is there are people who are able to make the plays,” Marrone said. “We didn’t take good angles and we didn’t stick to the tackling plan, which I take responsibility for.”

Marrone added, “You’re seeing guys who are getting blocked and not defeating the block in front of them. Then you see players hustling to get back in position.”

The Jaguars last season won the AFC South title and advanced to the AFC Championship Game for the first time in 18 seasons. They were 3-1 and leading the division this season before losing seven consecutive games.

The team has struggled offensively through the last nine games, with penalties also an issue much of the season. The Jaguars were penalized seven times for 69 yards Thursday and lead the NFL in unsportsmanlike-conduct penalties.

“Being the head coach, I have to take responsibility for that,” Marrone said. “I’ve never shied away from that. It’s a challenging aspect. You felt like last year you did a good job. You felt that there was a buy-in. People really believed in it. This year, after the first quarter of the season, you say, ‘How have I not been able to get this point across?’ 

“That’s on me. I’ve got to a better job.”

Marrone also said he hasn’t considered returning to Blake Bortles at quarterback.

Cody Kessler on Thursday started his second consecutive game since taking over for Bortles before the victory over Indianapolis. Kessler has completed 43 of 67 passes for 390 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions. 

The Jaguars have scored 15 points in the two games, with their lone touchdown in that span a seven-yard pass from Kessler to wide receiver Dede Westbrook Thursday with the Jaguars trailing 30-2.

Kessler has been sacked seven times in two games behind an offensive line playing with two Week 1 starters: guard A.J. Cann and right tackle Jermey Parnell.

“Cody is a tough kid,” Marrone said. “I thought he was aggressive in his throws. He threw the ball downfield when we had opportunities. He took some shots. There were a couple you obviously want back. It’s the overall production of the offense. I said it before: You can’t put it on one person or one coach. There were some things I thought he improved on from the week before.”

Also: 

*Marrone was asked about comments made by players Thursday night that perhaps opponents had figured out how to attack the Jaguars’ defensive scheme. “At the end of the day, those things (such comments) happen to teams that are losing,” Marrone said. “Every scheme people play everyone knows the weaknesses to that scheme. We play three-deep, we play quarters, we play (cover) two. We mix it up quite well. When you’re inconsistent and you have a game against a high-powered offense like Indianapolis the week before, you don’t really hear a lot of that. All of a sudden now the scheme works. When you have a poor performance, then the talk is about scheme. The performance Thursday was poor angles, poor tackling. We’re an eight-man front team. What other scheme can you potentially get in? …. All those runs we had extra people up in the box. That’s tough when you hear stuff like that.”…

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