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Offseason Update: Focus on playmakers

Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone looks on from the sidelines during the first half of an NFL football game against the Denver Broncos, Sunday, Sept. 29, 2019, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

JACKSONVILLE – Doug Marrone's aim is more than clear by now.

The Jaguars' head coach knows more is needed offensively, and he has said more than once this offseason how that needs to happen:

The Jaguars need to make more plays.

Specifically, they need more players who can make more of them.

"We want to be able to see if we can get some playmakers," Marrone said. "We feel like we have some already. We want to make sure we focus around that."

Marrone spoke on a videoconference last Thursday with General Manager David Caldwell in which the duo met with local media about this week's NFL Draft, but this was hardly the first time in recent weeks Marrone has talked about needing playmaker.

The issue was a focus when he spoke to the media a few weeks back, and Marrone emphasized the area again Thursday when speaking about new offensive coordinator Jay Gruden's influence on an offense that ranked 19th in the NFL last season – 16th in passing and 17th in rushing.

Marrone, who has spoken in previous offseasons about preferring a run-based offense, was asked if he anticipated being more "pass-heavy" with Gruden.

"I think it is more showcasing where our best talent is," he said. "I think that's the most important thing. I think when you get into questions of run versus pass, those questions a lot come up when you don't win. When you are not scoring points, people are going to say you should have run the ball more or you got away from the run too early or you should have thrown more.

"We are going to look at who the best players are, and at the end of the day you want to be 50-50. But if it is 60-40 pass-run or run-pass, depending on how the game goes, I do not mind."

Marrone, as he has multiple times this offseason, said he was more focused on how the offense fares in specific situations than statistics and rankings.

"That is the one thing that has held us from scoring and being on the field; one is obviously third down and the other is in the red zone," Marrone said. "I want to make sure you get these playmakers and make sure you make them make plays and positions in third downs and red zone to get us going.

"A lot of it will depend on how [quarterback] Gardner [Minshew II] progresses and what he is doing well. I think that if he's going and we are rolling with him, we are more than happy to throw the football. If we are running the football and the runner is hot, then we will stick with the run.

"Each game is different, but we definitely want to be able to add to some of the playmakers that we have and be able to get the ball in their hands."


If NFL general managers have agreed on anything in recent weeks, it's that the largest difference between this year's draft and past versions will be medical information teams have on some prospects. Caldwell very much agrees with that thinking. Covid-19 restrictions this offseason prevented teams from having their team physicians execute the medical rechecks that typically take place in the final month leading to the draft. Teams also couldn't fly prospects to their facilities for visits, something they can do with 30 prospects in normal offseasons. "The biggest issue that I think we face is the medical portion of these guys that were not at the combine and having to draft a player that you are not 100 percent sure of the medical," Caldwell said. "It is one thing to draft a player and not have an accurate 40 time or short-shuttle time, but to have a player come in and then all of a sudden you realize he has a medical issue that disqualifies him after you draft him, that is an issue. I think that is the one thing that we miss the most."


Caldwell: "We trust our scouts. We trust our coaches in terms of what they watch on the video. We have spent more time with some of these late-round prospects – whether it is a Zoom call and getting to know them. We feel like we have a lot of good information. Some of the guys (prospects) have done their own Pro Days and we have watched them [on video]. Our scouts and our personnel department and everybody have really done a good job of really focusing that if we draft a guy, we are going to feel good about having the information that we need outside of medical."

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