JACKSONVILLE – Leonard Fournette didn't hide his feelings Thursday afternoon.
Nor did he waste words.
"I love Coach Doug," Fournette said as the Jaguars (5-9) prepared to play the Atlanta Falcons (5-9) at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Ga., Sunday at 1 p.m.
The Jaguars' running back was talking about Head Coach Doug Marrone, and he was far from alone. Yes, the Jaguars' season has been chaotic. Yes, it has been weird as often as not.
No, it hasn't been as successful as hoped – or expected.
But support for Marrone in the locker room hasn't wavered, and players have talked throughout the season about resiliency and resolve despite significant obstacles. They did so again Thursday in the wake of Owner Shad Khan dismissing Tom Coughlin from his duties as Executive Vice President of Football Operations Wednesday evening.
Coughlin's dismissal, and the accompanying news of extensive fines in recent seasons by the organization, was the latest hurdle in a season full of them – an October trade of All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey and a Week 1 injury to starting quarterback Nick Foles chief among them. Players on Thursday reiterated what they have said throughout the season – that Marrone and the coaching staff have performed admirable in what at times has been a difficult season.
"I feel like he has done a great job because we have definitely faced adversity throughout OTAs (organized team activities), throughout the season," veteran nickelback D.J. Hayden said, adding that he considers Marrone "a great listener."
"He listens to us and how we feel and tries to take that into account," Hayden said. "I like him a lot. I'm just hoping for the best, trying to focus on these last few games and finish strong."
Hayden said he would like to see the staff return next season. Fournette agreed.
"Definitely," Fournette said.
Defensive end Calais Campbell talked of Marrone doing an "incredible job" in a season with "a lot of noise."
"There is so much stuff we have gone through this year that we don't typically go through in a season," Campbell said. "He has done an incredible job keeping the guys focused and staying on the task at hand. That is impressive. He is a very good coach."
Also around the Jaguars Thursday:
*Defensive coordinator Todd Wash discussed one of the season's best defensive efforts – a 20-16 victory over Oakland this past Sunday in which the defense shut out the Raiders in the second half after allowing 273 yards in the first half. "There were some intense moments on the sideline there in the first half," Wash said. "At halftime, we talked to them and said, 'We know where we're at. We have the capabilities of playing better than we did in the first half.' Really, give credit to the players. They came out and executed well. We adjusted to some things in the running game to put our guys in position to make some plays. But it is really just a credit to them." …
*As Marrone did early in the week, offensive coordinator John DeFilippo on Thursday praised the play last Sunday of rookie right Jawaan Taylor. Marrone said Taylor had perhaps his best game this past Sunday, and DeFilippo agreed. "Jawaan has made strides each week," DeFilippo said. "He's a really good right tackle in this league right now, but I think Jawaan's going to have a really nice career in this league as a right tackle for a long time in this year. He has those traits of linemen that I've been around that have had nice careers in this league – eight-, 10-, 12-year careers.
*Wash, asked about defending Falcons All-Pro wide receiver Julio Jones Sunday, said with a laugh: "We've got 11 on the grass, so we'll rush one and drop the other 10." Wash added seriously: "He's a beast. He's an exceptional player. He was targeted 22 times last week. We know they're going to be going to him. In our plan, we understand that. We're going to do the best we can to try to keep him in front of us and eliminate as many big plays and make him earn everything."
*Center Brandon Linder (knee) and Campbell practiced limited after missing practice Wednesday; the two veteran players typically miss Wednesday practice during the regular season, with neither missing a game this season. …
*Wide receiver Dede Westbrook practiced full for a second consecutive day with a neck/shoulder injury, with nine players practicing limited: quarterback Gardner Minshew II (right shoulder), wide receiver D.J. Chark Jr. (ankle), Bouye (hamstring), Hayden (knee), defensive end Josh Allen (shoulder), linebacker Austin Calitro (shoulder), left tackle Cam Robinson (knee), tight end Nick O'Leary (shoulder) and defensive tackle Abry Jones (elbow). …