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View from the O-Zone: "We're starting again"


INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – He has moved on. He moved on a few weeks back, actually.

That's Doug Marrone's nature, his NFL body clock. So, it wasn't a hard question on Wednesday when the Jaguars' head coach was asked if it felt like 2018 yet.

"Oh, gosh, yeah," Marrone said with a laugh.

Not that it was easy. Shoot, during his 2018 NFL Scouting Combine podium appearance Wednesday there were incessant reminders about last month's AFC Championship Game, which the Jaguars lost to the New England Patriots in a fashion as heartbreaking as the Jaguars' season was memorable.

Yes, Marrone said, there were things he would have done differently in that game.

Yes, there were valuable lessons learned.

Marrone went over other issues during his meeting with the media here in Indianapolis, covering the topics you would expect in his first media availability since a day after the Jaguars' remarkable postseason run.

He was expectedly vague on the future of players such as wide receiver Allen Robinson, wide receiver Marqise Lee and cornerback Aaron Colvin. All are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents at the March 14 start of the NFL League Year, and all face different scenarios and likelihoods of returning.

Where neither General Manager David Caldwell nor Marrone was vague on was the subject of quarterback Blake Bortles, who the team re-signed this past Saturday to a contract extension through 2020. Marrone talked extensively of Bortles' toughness, reliability and the respect Bortles has among Jaguars teammates.

Where Marrone was perhaps best and most insightful Wednesday was on the subject of the two-year contract extension he, Jaguars Executive Vice President Tom Coughlin and Caldwell all signed this past Friday – a day before Bortles' extension.

Marrone discussed the extension in the vein he discusses most such issues; he's an NFL veteran coach who understands what contract extensions mean. They are great – and greatly appreciated by those who receive them – but Marrone keeps them in perspective.

"There are expectations and you have to earn it and keep earning it and we have to do a better job," Marrone said. "They are putting their faith or rewarding where we are and we have to make sure we uphold our end and continue to work harder and continue to do a better job. That is how I view it.

"In this league, like I have said before, I walk in everyday trying to make sure I am earning my job, to keep this job. You see how volatile the league is every year. You could have a good year and then the next year. It is a lot.

"You have to continue to let the past go, whether it has been success or failure and continue to work on that day and get better right now."

That smacks of NFL Coach Speak, but the words seem sincere from Marrone, perhaps because his no-nonsense approach served him so well – and seemed so genuine – throughout his first year-plus as the Jaguars' head coach.

Marrone wasted no time reiterating the need for that approach – not only with the coaching staff but the entire team – the day after the AFC Championship Game. One of his first themes in his next-day press conference was that last year's success will mean nothing for next season.

Marrone reiterated that Wednesday. He likely will reiterate it a lot this offseason. As for when he put last season behind – like, for real – Marrone said that didn't happen immediately.

He instead said it happened when he expected – after the Philadelphia Eagles beat the Patriots in Super Bowl LII early this month. Marrone said the Super Bowl has felt like the right time to move forward after he has been involved with conference title losses in the past. And so it was again.

"In my mind, I get it set for after the Super Bowl," Marrone said. "I try to stay away from the television and you want to stay away because it hurts so much. But in my mind, once they crown the champion, there's 24 hours or 48 hours afterwards, and then all of a sudden your mind's like, 'OK, the Philadelphia Eagles are the World Champions … here we go … we're starting again. Let's go.'

"To me, after the Super Bowl, mentally it clicks over."

So, yes, for Marrone and the Jaguars, it's very much 2018. The NFL calendar flips fast, and there's nothing quite like the combine with its focus on the immediate future of free-agency and the long-term future of another draft class to reiterate that.

The topic needed no reiterating for the Marrone, though.

For the Jaguars' head coach, the annual process of earning his job began a few weeks back.

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