JACKSONVILLE – The offseason is over – the official part, anyway.
It was maybe the most unique offseason in NFL history, which Head Coach Doug Marrone acknowledged Friday when wrapping up the Jaguars' 2020 offseason program.
Marrone also emphasized something else:
That for all the uniqueness and all the challenges – and for all the planning that remains before training camp – the Jaguars in recent months pretty much got done what they could get done.
"We really didn't have any glitches," Marrone said during a video conference with local media Friday morning.
The Jaguars ended their 2020 offseason program Thursday with a virtual team meeting. And while COVID-19-related rules meant that the offseason consisted of virtual work and no on-field work, Marrone said: "We really have been able to do everything that we needed to do to get done – except for the stuff that's on the field."
Marrone said the focus now is being as prepared as possible for training camp – which will mark the first time players will be on the field since the end of the 2019 season. While official dates have not yet been announced, reports this week were that NFL training camps could begin July 28.
Teams in a "normal" offseason typically begin offseason programs in mid-April, hold four weeks of on-field work in May and June and close the program with a three-day mandatory minicamp in mid-June. COVID-19 prevented coaches from being in team facilities until recently, and players still are not permitted in facilities except to rehabilitate injury.
Marrone said the early emphasis in camp will be getting players the needed on-field work that they didn't get in the offseason.
"We're trying to work on ways to speed up the process of all those reps," Marrone said. "Maybe five percent of our football team will be able to catch up quickly. The veteran guys who have been doing it for a while and who are comfortable with the system have a good opportunity. But these younger players … they've missed reps.
"We're trying to see how we can introduce ways of really trying to catch up for the younger guys so they have a chance to be able to compete for a job."
Marrone said said work remains on that front. Whereas he usually would have the entire training camp schedule done by now, that's not the case this offseason – with the league still mandating safety- and COVID-19-related rules and protocols.
"I have some shells, but the daily schedule we're still working with it," Marrone said. "We're trying to get a schedule that's the safest way for us when we do return."
Marrone cited a couple of major takeaways from the offseason program, one of which was that the team's 2020 unrestricted free agents adapted quickly. The '20 free agent class included middle linebacker Joe Schobert, running back Chris Thompson, defensive lineman Rodney Gunter, linebacker/defensive end Cassius Marsh, backup quarterback Mike Glennon, defensive tackle Al Woods, cornerback Rashaan Melvin and defensive end/linebacker Aaron Lynch.
"You really don't know those players as well as the ones you're around every day," Marrone said.
Marrone, too, spoke highly of a rookie class that included 12 selections in the 2020 NFL Draft and 18 collegiate free agents, a class led by two first-round selections – cornerback CJ Henderson of Florida and linebacker/defensive end K'Lavon Chaisson.
"That's the one area where if I looked at it I would say, 'Wow, these guys really have been impressive of the amount of work they've put in outside of the meetings,''' Marrone said.
Marrone in closing the offseason made a point to laud those who ensured a unique situation was a productive one. He said while he initially felt "anxiety" over the logistics of a virtual offseason, much of that stemmed from personal uncertainty over technology and communication.
He credited the Jaguars' information technology and video departments with making those areas run smoothly.
"A lot of things were going through my mind at the beginning," Marrone said. "The IT department and the video department did a great job of making sure we had access to be able to do what we felt we needed to do to help the players. …"