JACKSONVILLE – Doug Marrone is a Myles Jack fan.
If that wasn't evident before, it was when the Jaguars' head coach discussed the fourth-year linebacker this week.
Marrone was asked during this week's 2019 NFL Annual Meeting if signing veteran linebacker Jake Ryan recently as an unrestricted free agent from the Green Bay Packers might mean moving Jack from middle linebacker. Marrone said it did not, then discussed Jack at length.
"Myles Jack is always an interesting subject," Marrone said Wednesday during the AFC-NFC Coaches Breakfast at the Arizona Biltmore. "The perspective I have on Myles Jack seems to be so different than everyone else, meaning the media and or people who ask me questions about him."
Jack, a second-round selection in the 2016 NFL Draft from UCLA, has increased his role in each of his three NFL seasons. He started at strong-side linebacker as a rookie in 2016 before starting at strong in base situations and moving to middle in passing situations in 2017.
He moved to the middle full time when former Jaguars middle linebacker Paul Posluszny retired in the 2018 offseason.
"I look at Myles Jack as gosh how lucky are we that we have this guy that can play Sam (strongside), Mike (middle) and Will (weakside)," Marrone said. "In the beginning, I think Mike was a position where you have to get experience because you are seeing things at a different level, but look how quickly Myles picked that up and he was able to play at a high level."
Jack, after a standout 2017 postseason, entered 2018 focused being a consistent playmaker as he transitioned to the middle full time. While hack didn't reach the Pro Bowl level last season that many observers predicted for him, Marrone said in no way was 2018 a disappointment for Jack.
"We are fortunate to have someone like Myles Jack in that he is big, he is strong, he is fast, he can tackle, he has great ball skills," Marrone said. "When people say, is Myles a Will, is he a Mike, is he a Will, is he a Sam? It is very difficult for me – what is he? He is good enough to be any of them and be the best at those positions. I really believe that."
MARRONE ON MARQISE …
Marrone made news this week by saying wide receiver Marqise Lee likely will return late in the preseason. While that surprised some observers, Lee is ahead of schedule in his rehabilitation from the knee injury that him out the entire 2018 season. Marrone said he likes what he hears from Lee regarding his return, and that the team has high expectations for Lee in 2019. "What's great about Marqise is I believe he has high expectations for himself," Marrone said. "When you talk to him, he wants to be the best player. He wants to get back. But I think right now, we're talking about steps. The first thing we want to do is to make sure we can get him back on the field. He wants to get back there with his teammates and be around them." Marrone made clear that he considered Lee's absence last season a major loss, saying "We lost a lot last year when we lost him." Marrone was asked why that was true. "If you want me to throw statistics out, he was our leading third-down receiver, so right off the bat something like that," Marrone said. "We all know Marqise is a guy who will go in there and get tough and dirty – whatever term you want to use. He did a heck of a job in our running game. He really did a good job of making sure everybody else in that room – or younger guys – followed suit with that. You lose that when those players aren't around or actually playing in those games."
"Players have to have some type of ownership in a big way. You have to be open-minded. You have to understand, 'Why do we have these boundaries? Why do we do it like this?' You have to have communication and discussion: 'What do we want to be? What do we want to look like?' Everybody knows what they want to do as an end result. Every time people get together on April 15 or the first day of training camp, people are talking about the same thing: 'We're going to go out; we're going to win the Super Bowl.' Well, what's going to make the difference? Well, it's the journey, how are you going to prepare? You want to get everyone on the same page and you want everyone to have some ownership on how we're going to prepare this football team to get ready to play. The more ownership you have, the more accountability you're going to have from those players."
--Marrone on importance of player ownership