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View from the O-Zone: An "awesome" relationship


INDIANAPOLIS – We're learning a few things about Doug Marrone.

We started learning them in January during his introductory press conference – and when the Jaguars' head coach made his media rounds Wednesday morning at the 2017 NFL Scouting Combine, several things became even clearer:

One, Marrone is engaging – and darned excited about his new job.

Two, he believes in quarterback Blake Bortles.

Three, he believes in this whole "we've-got-to-be-physical-and-tough" thing.

Four, and this may be clearest of all:

Marrone absolutely, positively and unabashedly loves working for/with Tom Coughlin.

"It's been awesome," Marrone said.

Marrone spoke on a variety of topics Wednesday, and we learned a lot as he spoke. We learned he wants linebacker Myles Jack on the field more, and we learned (again) that improving the running game will be key for this regime. We also learned there will be changes offensively and defensively, though time will determine the changes' exact nature.

But it was when Marrone spoke about Coughlin that he was most passionate.

"That's probably the question I get asked most: 'How's it like with Coach [Coughlin]?''' Marrone said. "I'm like, 'it's awesome.'"

Indeed, if there is a Jaguars-related issue you hear at the combine, it's the same one you heard at the Senior Bowl and the Super Bowl: "How will the dynamic of Marrone as head coach, David Caldwell as general manager and Coughlin as executive vice president of football operations work?"

Will Coughlin's personality overwhelm all else?

Will Coughlin – a 20-year NFL head coaching veteran, a two-time Super Bowl-winning head coach and the first head coach in Jaguars history – allow Marrone to do his job?

How can the three-headed leadership team function?

They're legitimate questions because it's an unusual NFL situation. And Coughlin indeed is one of the league's strongest, most-demanding personalities. But Marrone said he likes the whole dynamic.

"We all push each other in a good way, a positive way," he said. "For me, it's been awesome."

It's probably evident by now that Marrone's favorite word when discussing Coughlin Wednesday was "awesome," and he said it's perhaps most awesome having Coughlin's wealth of coaching experience literally yards from his EverBank Field office.

Marrone long has valued Coughlin's insight, and long has reached to him for direction. He tried unsuccessfully to get hired by Coughlin when starting his coaching career, and he jokingly talked on LIVE Wednesday about reaching out to Coughlin in the past and the would-be mentor often having limited time to give.

Marrone said Floyd Little helped in that area. Little, a Pro Football Hall of Fame running back, played in the same backfield as Coughlin at Syracuse University in the mid-1960s along with Pro Football Hall of Fame running back Larry Csonka. Little was a special assistant to the athletics director at Syracuse when Marrone was the head coach there, and Marrone said that helped him get more time with Coughlin.

Now, that time is as close to unlimited as possible.

"Now, I can get him 24-7," Marrone said, adding "I'm literally 15 yards away. I almost have it now where I almost walk in. I still knock a little bit. At first it would be a knock and a wait. Now, I knock and walk [at the same time]. Now, I'm working on the next step where I can just walk right in."

Marrone laughed telling the story. "I'm kind of gaining that confidence, which makes me feel good," he said. "It must mean I'm doing a good job."

As for worrying about Coughlin having "too much input," or being too involved come training camp or the regular season, Marrone doesn't share the concern.

"I can't speak for him," Marrone said. "That's the one thing I can't speak for, but I know I'm excited about him. I'm not one of those guys where, 'OK, I have the whistle … ' All I care about is winning. I don't really care what we have to do to get it done.

"Coach is going to have great input? If I'm not doing something right and Coach points it out, I'm all for it. I told him that. I want to win. I don't care how we do it, what happens, what goes in. I have zero ego in this thing. He has so much to bring to the table.

"I'm telling you now: I'm sucking everything out of him; I feel like I'm going to drain him. He's going to walk out and it's 'nothing left;' I took it all out of him.' But it's been awesome."

That's obviously a terrific quote. What you can't hear when reading the words was the passion in Marrone's voice. This was something you couldn't fake – and Marrone's enthusiasm for the situation was impossible to miss. 

Yes, we're learning more and more about the man coaching the Jaguars, and we learned more Wednesday.

But we don't need to learn much more to know for certain he absolutely, positively and unabashedly loves having the first man to hold his job a few yards down the hall.

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