JACKSONVILLE – The idea is to be ready when the time is right.
That's all NFL coaching staffs can do in the current circumstances, and Head Coach Doug Marrone said it's what the Jaguars' staff is doing during this time of "working remotely."
Marrone, speaking to the media this week for the first time since the NFL mandated teams close their facilities because of the COVID-19 pandemic, said part of Jaguars' staff's focus has been preparing for the draft and assisting football personnel officials with free agency.
Preparing for the offseason program begins – whenever it begins – has been a priority, too.
"We're getting everything prepared from the standpoint of our installations," Marrone said. "We're getting ready to tape a lot of meetings and things of that nature, so if we are allowed to send things out to the players, they can be able to look at it at their own pace and work on their profession in a safe environment. We're doing that right now."
NFL offseason programs were scheduled to begin April 20 – April 6 for teams with new head coaches. "Normal" offseason programs begin with a Phase 1 featuring strength-and-conditioning work and meetings, move to a Phase 2 including on-field individual work and end with four weeks of 11-on-11, non-contact, on-field work known as organized team activities.
The third phase typically ends with a mid-June mandatory minicamp, but this offseason is anything but typical. The NFL Draft is scheduled to be held April 23-25, but the status of offseason programs – or if they will take place at all – is uncertain.
Marrone said the Jaguars are working with the NFL to determine guidelines for working with players remotely, adding that such issues involve players needing physical examinations. Those issues therefore include liability concerns and must involve the NFL Players Association.
"Normally, players will have physicals before they start the workouts; we have given them some tips on what they can do," Marrone said. "We have touched base with many players just to say, 'Hey, are you doing? OK? How do you feel? Let us know if you need anything.' We have our [training staff] available.
"It has been a trying time. As far as us as coaches, we are trying to stay with the schedule knowing that things are obviously not open for us right now. And it is something that is changing throughout time."
As for precisely what the "offseason" will entail, Marrone said that remains to be seen – with one part of the team's approach taping meetings regarding offensive and defensive schemes to have available to distribute to players when permitted.
"We're still working through that part of it," he said. "The part that we are working on at the moment is the lines of communication, meaning that when April 20 comes – which was going to be our starting date for Phase 1 – what were we as coaches going to give the players in that time frame? We're saying: 'Hey, listen, let's get those on tape, let's tape meetings, put them out there unless the league tells us otherwise.' Then the players have the opportunity to see that on their own. We're taking every direction from the league, so we're sticking by all the rules and doing everything we can. …
"This way, on April 20, if someone doesn't tell us anything, all of the players that are under contract … we'll shoot them all the information and meetings. There'll be a team meeting. It'll be exactly how we would do it as if they were here from a meeting standpoint. We're still working on the other stuff to see what we can and cannot do from a liability standpoint and putting out workouts."
Marrone on his vision for the team in 2020: "We want to be a big, strong, tough and smart football team. I think we want players that really enjoy playing, that love the game. We don't want a lot of drama. We want people to be on the same page, as far as everything we're doing is all about just trying to win. All the individual things will come if we win football games. That's the one thing that I've always tried to preach from the beginning, from when I first started coaching, whether it be as a position coach or as a coordinator or as the head coach. Those are the things that I'm looking for."