JACKSONVILLE – The offensive philosophy isn’t easily definable.
If there was a message in Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone’s Wednesday media availability, perhaps that was it.
A primary topic was new offensive coordinator John DeFilippo, and the overriding issue for Jaguars observers is the offensive direction moving forward. Will it remain run-centric? Or will it follow the trend many observers crave and be pass-happy?
Marrone said the answer isn’t necessarily “A” or “B,” nor is yet known.
“It all depends on what you have available,” Marrone said.
Marrone acknowledged this weekend’s AFC and NFC Championship Game participants – the New Orleans Saints and Los Angeles Rams in the NFC and the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC. They were the NFL’s four top-ranked offenses in the regular season.
“You look at teams that are left, the four teams – look how they’re built,” Marrone said. “They’re doing things and doing them well.”
Marrone as quickly noted that a season ago the Jaguars were playing in the same round of the playoffs as the NFL’s second-ranked defense and top-ranked rushing offense.
“You look at what we did and say, ‘Hey, it looks pretty good,’’’ Marrone said.
So, what of that all-important topic of offensive philosophy? What will the DeFilippo offense look like?
Some might consider numbers. When DeFilippo coordinated the Cleveland Browns’ offense in 2015, it ranked 25th in the NFL total yards, 30th in scoring, 21st in passing and 22nd in rushing. He coordinated Minnesota’s offense for 13 games this past season and the Vikings ranked 20th in total yards, 19th in scoring, 13th in passing and 30th in rushing at season’s end.
But statistics only say so much about a coordinator – and statistics omit factors such as injuries, level of talent and philosophy of the head coach.
Marrone on Wednesday talked extensively of a collaborative approach, speaking of the experience of running backs coach Terry Robiskie and offensive line coach George Warhop and saying “I feel like there are a lot of people who are going to be having a lot of input into what we do offensively.”
It’s also worth remembering Marrone’s background is on offense. While Head Coach Sean Payton called plays in New Orleans, Marrone served as offensive coordinator with the Saints from 2006-2008. His influence on the offense is real.
“Everything in gameday goes through my headset,” Marrone said. “I have the ability to say, ‘This I what I want to do.’ We work the entire week together. That’s one of the things I felt comfortable with [when hiring DeFilippo].”
Marrone said the reality is it’s too early to know exactly how the offense will look in 2019, because so much in terms of personnel is yet to be determined.
“A lot of it’s going to depend on the talent – seeing where the players are when they come back, getting everybody healthy … acquiring some talent, obviously – again whichever way we do it,” Marrone said. “We’ll get those players, put it all together, make sure we’re able to identify it and use those players properly.”
So, you want to define the Jaguars’ offensive philosophy? Stay tuned.
Marrone made clear that the ability to work with and develop young talent played a role in offensive staff hires, which makes sense considering the Jaguars figure to be offense-centric in the 2019 NFL Draft. Marrone noted that DeFilippo has worked with a variety of quarterbacks including Carson Wentz with the Philadelphia Eagles (quarterbacks coach, 2016-2017), Kirk Cousins with the Vikings last season and Derek Carr with the Oakland Raiders (quarterbacks coach, 2012-2014) and said specifically of DeFilippo’s work with Wentz, “He did a nice job there.” Marrone said the same was true of offensive line coach George Warhop: “He’s great at developing players.”
Marrone on retaining quarterbacks coach Scott Milanovich: “I like Scott. It’s difficult to see because of the performance on the field of the players, but Scott’s done a good job game-planning with the quarterbacks in the room. He’s very good at evaluating. I’m very happy with him.”
With quarterback on Jaguars observers’ minds, their thoughts next week likely will be in Mobile, Alabama – the site of the Reese’s Senior Bowl, an event that is particularly quarterback-centric this year. Five of the top 10-to-12 quarterbacks in April’s NFL Draft are expected to attend, including Daniel Jones of Duke, Drew Lock of Missouri and Will Grier of West Virginia. Jones and Lock are considered first-round talents and could push toward the Top 10 by April – and while Grier currently is projected by many as a second-round selection, a strong Senior Bowl showing and a strong pre-draft combine could push him toward Round 1. Quarterbacks Ryan Finley of North Carolina State and Gardner Minshew of Washington State – also projected second-day selections – also are expected to play in the Senior Bowl. Other potential first- and second-round selections expected in Mobile next week include South Carolina wide receiver Deebo Samuel, Washington offensive tackle Kaleb McGary, Washington State offensive tackle Andre Dillard, Boston College offensive guard Chris Lindstrom, Mississippi State center Elgton Jenkins, Boston College defensive end Zach Allen, Mississippi State defensive end Montez Sweat, Louisiana Tech defensive end Jaylon Ferguson, Old Dominion defensive end Oshane Ximines, Miami defensive tackle Gerald Willis III, Penn State cornerback Amani Oruwariye, Texas cornerback Kris Boyd and Mississippi State safety Johnathan Abram.