JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser examines the week that was around the Jaguars at the 2018 NFL Annual Meeting in Orlando
We'll begin this final look back at the '18 annual meeting with this thought:
Jaguars Training Camp is going to be tough. Again.
That's a guess, but it's safe guess. As he did in late February at the NFL Scouting Combine, Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone talked often this week at the meetings about the importance of putting 2017 in the past and focusing on what's required to succeed in 2018.
"There are expectations that are out there with our football team, and I think we all know we have a lot of work ahead of us," Marrone said. "You don't just show up and say, 'OK, this is what we accomplished in 2017 … we just need to do this and 2018 is going to be a better year.'''
The Jaguars' 2017 AFC South title and ensuing run to the AFC Championship Game was largely built on a tough approach, and a tough training camp.
Listening to Marrone this week it's difficult to imagine him changing that formula.
"We have to understand that what happened in the past is we put a lot of hard work in to earn what we accomplished in 2017," Marrone said. "The players who are coming back and have been rewarded, they understand, 'We have a lot of hard work ahead of us and we have a lot of work to put in before we can be the type of finished product we'd like to be.'"
Marrone, too, talked philosophically this week of how to enjoy a season such as '17 while focusing on the future.
"With 2017, what I've done is I've taken those memories and I've gotten a box," he said. "I've put those memories in that box and said, 'There will be a time for me to look at this and really enjoy it – but now's not the time.' We have to get ourselves better and keep moving forward."
Two things to remember when considering wide receiver Marqise Lee's value: toughness and run blocking. Marrone and Jaguars Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin both made that point clear this week. "He did a heck of a job for us on third down," Marrone said of Lee, who re-signed with the Jaguars as an unrestricted free agent early this month. "People are going to focus on maybe the drops he had; people are going to look at the statistics and judge him on the stats. I would challenge everyone to watch the film and watch the job he did in the run game. You talk about wanting to be a physical football team. We need our receivers to crack on safeties and really show the physical nature of the game. … Even though he was a wide receiver, he was a big part of what we did running the football. I don't mean that to take away from him being a wide receiver. I say that in the sense of him being an all-around player who does everything we ask him to do. He's a very tough player." Said Coughlin, "In Marqise we not only have a guy, as I explained to him, he'll go block you. He's a tough guy and will go accomplish all those things."
"In the NFL, the one thing that's unique about this league it it's always going to go forward and it's not going to wait."
"I felt we needed to do something different. Tom and Doug and even (General Manager) Dave (Caldwell) didn't know what the thinking was [when they were hired in January 2017], but I had spoken to them individually. Within the course of an hour, I talked with them again as to what I thought was the way to go moving forward. It does turn, at least modern football, thinking on its head in a way that 'Hey, this is too many cooks in the kitchen,' etcetera, etcetera. After it was done, people thought it was unorthodox and had not been successful in many examples. I felt, for us, it was right. Tom is a unique individual. I thought he was perfect for what we wanted to do. Doug, we had known, was perfect for what we wanted to do. Maybe the organization is untraditional, but it was going to work. Where we were, I think we were ready to try something different. Fortunately, it has worked. … There was some role-shifting. Some of that maybe was a little hard, but all three of them did a great job."
--Jaguars Owner Shad Khan on the working relationship between Jaguars Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin, General Manager Dave Caldwell and Marrone
"The line is funny: you're going to be as good as your weakest link. On defense, 11 guys can go out there, 10 guys can get blocked and one guy can get through and beat somebody and make a play and everybody says, Oh, this is great.' On offense, everybody has to do their job or you're in trouble. When you go with the line, you're judged on how everybody does as a unit. With Andrew, we understand the type of player he is."
--Marrone on the addition of G Andrew Norwell