JACKSONVILLE – Doug Marrone made a couple of things clear Thursday.
One is that he's excited about the 2020 Jaguars.
The other is a more immediate concern – that while the coming weeks are going to be unusual, they also will be critical on many levels.
"It's going to be important for us," the Jaguars' head coach said during a videoconference with local media Thursday morning.
Marrone and Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell both joined Thursday's session, discussing next week's 2020 NFL Draft and the '20 offseason as a whole. One key topic:
The COVID-19 pandemic's impact on offseason programs. Those programs, which previously took place at team facilities, will be held virtually this offseason – with the Jaguars' version of the three-week session beginning April 27. The program is voluntary under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, but Marrone said it has added importance for the Jaguars this offseason – particularly for offensive players learning a new offense under new coordinator Jay Gruden.
"Offensively, there have been a lot of things that have changed, whether it's terminology or different types of concepts," Marrone said. "There have been some changes there. On defense, we're looking to make some changes to help ourselves going into this next season. …
"Right now, we're going through the process and making sure everyone has correct numbers, correct email addresses, things of that nature – making sure our players are in good shape."
Marrone said whereas teams had the option of meeting with players via videoconference during the three-week period, emphasis will instead be placed on taping sessions and distributing to players.
"We're going to be able to film a lot of the installations," he said. "That's something that we've done before. We used to film them in-house. … We're able to show the players the foundation of the system…. We started that a couple of weeks ago, getting everything ready. What we're doing to do – we're going to basically put it out in the cloud. We're not going to do it from a virtual standpoint because we have guys all over the country and out of the country even at this moment.
"They're going to be able to look at it on their time. It's still a voluntary period for the players. We'll send them things: workouts. If they want to use them, they can use them. If they're doing their own, they can do their own. "
EXCITED ABOUT YOUTH
Marrone on Thursday also reiterated what for him has been a strong theme in recent weeks – that while next season's team will be young, he is excited about its potential makeup. "The biggest challenge is knowing that we'll be a young football team with young guys," he said. "I really like the mindset of the younger guys that we drafted last year with [right tackle] Jawaan Taylor, [edge defender] Josh Allen, [quarterback Gardner] Minshew (II), all of those guys. [Wide receiver] DJ (Chark Jr.) the year before … those guys have really done a good job of knowing where they are." Marrone added that he and Caldwell have discussed the importance for a young team of having players who grasp a "team concept, not a lot of drama." Marrone said one challenge in the coming weeks will be creating chemistry, something that normally would be done in the offseason program. "There's a certain type of a bond when you go out there and do it," Marrone said. "Those are the big challenges. The one good thing is going to be a bunch of young guys, going to be a bunch of hungry guys. That's what we're focusing on. That's what I know we're excited about… This influx of young talent that's coming in is an exciting time for us."
Like the offseason program, the April 23-25 NFL Draft will be held virtually. Caldwell discussed some of the logistics around that here, specifically expressing concern about executing trade with shorter time on the clock in later rounds. Caldwell said he expects to feel more comfortable about the draft's virtual nature once the team's IT sets up the virtual war room in the coming days. "There will probably be some additional people now that we are not limited by space," he said. "[Owner] Shad Khan will be on the call, too and Doug (Marrone), myself – anybody that normally is in the draft room … We will also have a call that is tied to the league and Doug, myself and probably '[director of football administration] Tim Walsh will be on that call, in terms of submitting that pick and for trade purposes."