JACKSONVILLE – Senior writer John Oehser examines what we learned from Head Coach Doug Marrone’s Wednesday media availability discussing the 2019 coaching staff
1.The Leonard Fournette Message is changing. Marrone on Wednesday said he met with the second-year running back last week following a season in which Fournette’s production was too often disappointing – and his behavior too often disturbing. Marrone called the meeting “encouraging,” which in turn is encouraging for Fournette’s future with the organization. “I think he’s in a really good place,” Marrone said. “That’s encouraging and I’m excited about that.” That’s a major change in narrative from two and a half weeks ago, when Jaguars Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin issued a statement calling Fournette’s sideline behavior in the regular-season finale “disrespectful” and “selfish.” Stay tuned.
2.Quarterback is very much to be determined. There was no news regarding Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles Wednesday, with Marrone saying he had been too busy compiling the staff in recent weeks to begin thinking about or discussing personnel decisions. Bortles, who has two years remaining on the contract he signed last offseason, was benched in early December and many observers believe he is unlikely to return.
3.Marrone had high comfort with the coordinator. Marrone during his availability emphasized the importance of familiarity when hiring assistants, and said it was important in former Cleveland Browns and Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator John DeFilippo being hired to the same position with the Jaguars. Marrone said a current member of the Jaguars’ staff knows DeFilippo well and that multiple people with whom Marrone has close relationships also know DeFilippo well. “I’ve really been tracking him,” Marrone said.
4.DeFilippo’s hire wasn’t about “Nick …” With observers speculating the Jaguars could pursue Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles should he become a free agent, the same observers also speculated that the Jaguars hired DeFilippo because he spent 2017 as Foles’ quarterbacks coach in Philadelphia. Asked Wednesday if and DeFilippo discussed “Nick,” Marrone replied, “Nick who?” Marrone said specific quarterbacks were seldom discussed in the process. “It’s more about all the other stuff,” Marrone said. “I’m not going to talk about a specific person, because I don’t know if the person is going to be here or not.”
5. … but quarterbacks factored in the hire. Marrone on DeFilippo: “What did come into play was someone who has ability and who has been around veteran quarterbacks, has been around rookie quarterbacks, has been around a quarterback who came up and went on to do things well.” Marrone mentioned DeFilippo’s time around quarterbacks such as Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz, Foles, Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins and Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr. There is a lot of good variety in the types of players he’s had and the types of players he’s looked at,” Marrone said, adding that because of DeFilippo and quarterbacks coach Scott Milanovich, “You feel good about the evaluation for the coaching side when it comes to the quarterback.” Marrone said of DeFilippo’s work with Wentz: “He did a nice job there. That’s one of the things you look for, someone who can come in and develop.”
6.Fournette factored into hiring Terry Robiskie. Robiskie, a 37-year coaching veteran who has been a wide receivers coach with franchises such as Washington, Cleveland and Atlanta, was hired as the team’s running backs coach. “I was really looking for someone who could get the most of the player both on the field and off the field,” Marrone said, adding that he was looking for “someone who has had a history of really doing that in this league and at this level.” Marrone called Robiskie the first person who came to mind in that vein, adding that he has known Robiskie since being drafted by the Los Angeles Raiders in 1986. Robiskie at the time was the Raiders offensive quality control coach. “We’ve always stayed in touch, and always been friends,” Marrone said. “Wherever he’s been, if you look at the players he’s had, he’s always gotten the most of out of them. Terry’s a person who has been able to do that and who has shown that through his whole career. He’s the best guy I know who has that type of ability.”
7.Hiring “Hop” was important to Marrone. Marrone’s ties with offensive line coach George Warhop date to when Warhop coached offensive line when Marrone played for the World League of American Football’s London Monarchs in 1991 and 1992. “This one for me is someone I’ve tried to hire before,” Marrone said. “He does a great job of developing young players. Technically, we’re kind of in sync in terms of what I believe in. He’s someone I have a ton of respect for and was really my first choice.” Warhop in 2019 will enter his 24th season as an offensive line coach, having previously served as line coach with the St. Louis Rams (1996-1997), Arizona Cardinals (1998-2002), Dallas Cowboys (2003-2004), San Francisco (2005-2008), Cleveland Browns (2009-2013), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2014-2018).
8.Warhop was important, period. Marrone said hiring Warhop relatively early in the process helped with the ensuing coordinator interviews. “The first question you get [from coordinators] is, ‘Who’s going to be the line coach?’’’ Marrone said. “That’s the main thing – the line coach and the coordinator, the run game. Getting ‘Hop’ was important because everyone was comfortable with him. That worked out.”
9.Rebrovich was in demand. The Jaguars stayed in-house on the defensive line, promoting Jason Rebrovich from assistant defensive line coach to defensive line coach. Rebrovich served as Jaguars assistant defensive line coach in 2017-2018, serving as Bills defensive quality control coach in 2013, Bills assistant defensive line coach in 2014, Bills outside linebackers coach in 2015 and Bills defensive line coach in 2016. “We’ve gotten a lot of other teams wanting to interview him for defensive line jobs,” Marrone said. “There have been teams trying to hire him and get him. I feel very comfortable and it’s well-deserved. He’s a good, young football coach. That’s going to be an easy transition.”
10.The hiring process was extensive and exhausting. Marrone during Wednesday’s availability detailed his process for filling out the staff, emphasizing that it essentially been his sole focus since the day after the regular season. He also emphasized that he had yet to focus on offseason personnel decisions, saying that General Manager David Caldwell shortly after the season gave him a thick book detailing Jaguars personnel. “It has not been opened,” Marrone said. “I haven’t been in on any discussions.”
11.Coughlin wasn’t heavily involved in the hiring process. Marrone on Coughlin’s role in the hirings: “He stayed out of it.” Marrone said he did speak to Coughlin about multiple candidates, and that Coughlin met candidates when they interviewed. He said he also talked to Coughlin about secondary/cornerbacks coach Tim Walton, who coached under Coughlin with the New York Giants in 2015 – after he had spoken to others about Walton. “I used Coach (Coughlin) as a reference, but Coach has always kind of let me do it, just keeping him up to date on everyone,” Marrone said.