JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser takes a final look at the week around the Jaguars in advance of Sunday's regular-season finale against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium …
FOCUS, FOCUS, FOCUS
Doug Marrone spent the week preparing for a game.
And while the on-the-job-interview element of Marrone's time as the Jaguars' interim head coach is particularly strong considering his past experience as an NFL head coach, Marrone's focus on the now has been evident.
This is a remarkably focused team as it prepares for the 2016 regular-season finale.
That is how it should be, but Marrone deserves credit for the job he has done in the final two weeks of the season. A team out of the playoffs can take on a distracted, disinterested feel – particularly a team playing for an interim head coach.
That distracted feeling never happened under former Head Coach Gus Bradley.
It absolutely hasn't happened in Marrone's 13 days in the interim position. The focus was evident in Marrone's first game – a 38-17 victory over the Tennessee Titans last Saturday – and that feeling remained this week as the Jaguars prepared to visit the Indianapolis Colts Sunday.
"I think Doug has done a really good job in a tough situation of finding ways to get guys excited to play," quarterback Blake Bortles said this week.
Marrone has done so with an air of experience and professionalism, and has accomplished the difficult task of coaching the team his way while making clear that to players and coaches this is still in many ways Bradley's team.
He also has focused his comments to the media during the two weeks very much on the present – i.e., on winning the final two games – and has declined as much as possible to discuss his thoughts on becoming the permanent head coach.
Marrone said he has not talked to Jaguars Owner Shad Khan or General Manager David Caldwell about the position. He said he did speak with Shad and Tony Khan Monday, but emphasized that it was "not about the position."
Marrone said his task through Sunday will be on coaching the team, after which his focus will be on a coaching staff that faces an uncertain future. And he said on that front, he has seen a professional approach this week.
"They've done a great job," Marrone said. "I think it's one of those things where if you don't bring it up, it's always the elephant-in-the-room-type approach. I'm more of, 'Hey, let's bring up the issues. Listen, this is what we understand with what's going on. We understand that these are challenges for us and it'll challenge our professionalism and make sure we do the right thing. We understand those situations, but let's go ahead, this is what we have to do. …'
"I think the coaches have done a really good job and also the players and the trainers and the equipment guys. There's a lot of people that are involved when these decisions occur, when you have to make a change."
The Jaguars' wide receivers likely will look familiar Sunday. How the running backs look remains to be seen.
Wide receivers Allen Hurns and Marqise Lee were both listed as questionable on the final injury report of the week Friday, but Hurns said he expects to miss a fifth consecutive game with a hamstring injury and Lee said he expects to play through a hip flexor injury. Lee has started for Hurns for the last four games.
The running-back situation is less clear, with Chris Ivory listed as questionable with the hamstring issue that forced him to leave Saturday's victory over Tennessee. Denard Robinson, the third-team running back much of the season, was removed from the injury report Friday and therefore is expected to play after missing three consecutive games with a hamstring injury. He practiced limited throughout the week.
Bortles (right shoulder/right wrist), defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. (personal), defensive tackle Malik Jackson (illness), left tackle Kelvin Beachum (knee), wide receiver Arrelious Benn (concussion), offensive lineman Luke Bowanko (hip), tight end Alex Ellis (knee) and tight end Ben Koyack (knee) all were removed from the injury report Friday and are expected to play.
Tight end Neal Sterling was listed as questionable with a concussion and defensive tackle Jordan Hill was ruled out with a calf injury.
"The thing that's been missed is here's a young football player that we're developing just like a lot of players on our team, but he's on his third offensive coordinator. He's not going to come out and say that; he's not going to create excuses for himself, which I admire. … Here's this kid going on his third offensive coordinator and that's very difficult to do for anyone, never mind a young quarterback. I think he's been outstanding as far as that and not pointing fingers or not making excuses for himself."
--Marrone on Bortles