MOBILE, Ala. – The coaching staff is in place.
That's a good thing for Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone because it means a long, taxing process is over. It's also good because it means work can begin on shaping the Jaguars' 2019 offense.
That process will begin soon – and while it will be another taxing process, Marrone said it also will be an exciting one.
"It's an exciting time, to be able to have everyone put everything in together," Marrone said Tuesday during the South's practice at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in advance of Saturday's 2019 Reese's Senior Bowl.
Marrone – as he did last week while announcing the 2019 coaching staff – talked on Tuesday of a collaborative effort when it comes to installing the offense.
Marrone said he will be part of the installation, as will all offensive assistants. The Jaguars last week hired former Minnesota Vikings and Cleveland Browns offensive coordinator John DeFilippo as offensive coordinator, also hiring longtime NFL assistant George Warhop as offensive line coach and longtime NFL assistant Terry Robiskie as running backs coach. Wide receivers coach Keenan McCardell and tight ends coach Rob Middleton will return from last year's staff.
Marrone, entering his third full season as the Jaguars' head coach, on Tuesday talked of the offensive staff's opportunity to "make it your own."
"They're all going to be part of putting together this offensive playbook that we're going to be able to choose from," Marrone said. "I look at it as a menu, then we'll try to see what want to install: who do we have, what do we need to be good at, what we want to work on. Obviously, we want to be physical and we want to have explosive plays."
Marrone said prematurely assuming the offense will look a certain way, or that certain things will be emphasized, could be a mistake.
"People will label it, but I've always said this: On offense you want to play smart football, be good at situations, not turn the ball over and score points," Marrone said. "When people want to put a label on what you want to be, it's actually going to be those 16 performances that you have during the season that are going to be who you are.
"We're going to work on that quite a bit. That's a challenging part and that's also an exciting part. We have some players coming back. We had a lot of players injured last year and they're going to come back. We expect them to come back hungry and wanting that.
"When you put all that stuff together, you kind of get jacked up."
More from senior writer John Oehser's talk with Marrone Tuesday:
Q:Observers talk about this offense being a long way away. It doesn't sound as if you think that has to be the case.
A: When you look at it, two years ago we were in the Top 10. We were tops in red-zone scoring. We did a lot of good things. This year, it was tough for us. It started out we did some good things and then injuries caught up and we weren't able to keep it going. I didn't do a good enough job coaching and we didn't play well. At the end of the day, being healthy is a big thing. We've got to get our guys back. Like everyone in this league, we want to make sure we go out and play with our best team and our best guys and let's get after it. That's what's fun. We're going to guys back and I'm sure we'll add players who will be able to help us and that's exciting.
Q: Do you like this process? Seeing it all come together?
A: I do. I enjoy all parts of it. It's not like, 'Oh, I want to get out there on the practice field.' I want to make sure we have everything right and everything's perfect, so when the players come in we can get started and start building a team. That's what your challenge is. Anyone can get a bunch of guys together, run plays, run around and everything looks good. But that chemistry, that bonding that goes on, that trust of players and coaches – and players with each other – that team chemistry … as soon as they report, that's the first thing they start working on.
Q:There's so much focus on the offense. What changes do you anticipate defensively?
A: We're going to look and see how we can use our personnel better and put them in better situations, to see what we can do to make our opponents think a little more – things of that nature. We did a little bit this year that was able to help us at times. Now, I think we're going to take the next step forward Wherever you've been – offense, defense and special teams – you're constantly evolving in this league. You're evolving to stay ahead of the game. You don't want to be behind. If you just stay put and nothing really changes, people are going to catch up to you and it's going to catch you. You're going to lose football games. We're always looking to see where we can do a better job on offense, defense and special teams.