ORLANDO – Senior writer John Oehser's four quick thoughts from Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone's first media availability Monday at the 2018 NFL Annual Meeting
1.Myles Jack will be in the middle – probably.That was among the top takeaways from Marrone's discussion with writers on Monday. Another was whether the third-year veteran plays the middle or strong side, he has a chance to have a really good season. Jack last season started on the strong side with veteran Paul Posluszny starting in the middle. Jack and weak-side linebacker Telvin Smith stayed on the field in passing situations and formed one of the NFL's best nickel-linebacker duos. With Posluszny announcing his retirement earlier this month, Marrone said the team's first option is to have Jack start at middle in base situations, but said that could change. "We're going to play the best three," Marrone said. "I thought Myles took a really good step in the right direction and stepped up last year. I thought he played really well for us. If we left Myles at Sam [strong side] in regular personnel and moved him to Mike [middle] in nickel [as was the case last season], that's fine. If we moved him in [middle] there for all three downs now, we have the ability to do that." Marrone on Monday mentioned starting second-year veteran Blair Brown at strong-side backer in base with Jack in the middle. "I think we have some versatility in there, but if we were to start today? Yeah, we'd have Myles there,'' Marrone said.
2.Backup quarterback remains a topic.Marrone on Monday also addressed the Jaguars topic foremost on the minds of many observers – backup quarterback – but revealed little new. With 2014-2017 backup quarterback Chad Henne signing as an unrestricted free agent with the Kansas City Chiefs recently, starter Blake Bortles is the lone quarterback on the Jaguars' roster. General Manger David Caldwell said during the Jaguars' Free Agency press availability in mid-March that the team has a plan for the position, but did not say whether the plan was to sign a veteran or select a player in the 2018 NFL Draft late next month. "That's something we're continuing to talk about," Marrone said. "I don't think it's over, by any means. When we get out of here and get back together on Monday, that will be something we'll cover."
3.Poz's impact was real.Not that we didn't know already, but this was clear Monday listening to Marrone speak about Posluszny: he will be missed deeply. Marrone said this reaction last month when he learned Posluszny was at EverBank Field speaking to football staff wearing a suit and tie and informing the team he planned to retire after 11 NFL seasons: "Oh [expletive]." Marrone said he didn't know before Posluszny's visit he planned to retire, and that he asked Posluszny that day if he was certain of his decision. "I told him, 'We will do anything,''' Marrone said, adding "I want this person around. You want this guy around your football team in some capacity. He said, 'Even if everyone thinks I could play, if I go out there and I see a play that I could have made the year before and I can't make it now … I couldn't live with myself.' That's some heavy stuff. That's what I love: it's his personal expectations of himself. I think it was a tough decision but I also told Poz this: 'You're one of probably less than one percent of people who are able to walk away from this game on your own terms.' He may not like his own terms, but that's what he can do.''
4.Keenan McCardell was a staff star last season.This was evident last season, too, but Marrone on Monday again lauded McCardell for his work last season – McCardell's first season as the Jaguars' wide receivers coach. The Jaguars' projected top three receivers entering the 2017 season – Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns and Marqise Lee – missed a combined 24 games. Robinson, the team's projected No. 1 receiver entering the season, missed all but one game with a torn anterior cruciate ligament. Free-agent rookie Keelan Cole caught 42 passes for 748 yards and three touchdowns and rookie Dede Westbrook – a fourth-round selection – caught 27 passes for 339 yards and a touchdown in nine games. "Keenan did an outstanding job this year; he really did," Marrone said, adding that newly-signed free agent Donte Moncrief could benefit from working with McCardell: "I think we've seen what Keenan's been able to do with younger players. If he's open – which he seems to be – with this relationship with Keenan McCardell, I think great things can happen in that relationship."