The Jaguars parted ways with their head coach of four years on Monday. Doug Marrone, who guided the team to a 2017 AFC Title Game appearance in his first year at the helm and subsequently led the team to three consecutive losing seasons, is no longer the Jaguars' head coach. Most folks around Jacksonville see this situation as cut and dry, but for those that worked with and covered Doug Marrone during his tenure as the Jaguars' head coach, it's a bittersweet moment for the franchise.
A Good Dude
Doug Marrone, during his time in Jacksonville, was as good a dude as you'll find. He was honest and accommodating with the media. I remember the first practice I covered — Marrone walks into the media room bright and early. There's a smile adorning his face and in his arms is an overstuffed bag of Chick-Fil-A breakfast sandwiches (shockingly, the bag isn't filled with bologna). He thanks the media for the job they do and exits to coach his team up during a summer practice.
Marrone was always cordial, if not downright bro-y (is that a word?), with members of the media and fans alike. I'll miss his willingness to answer questions with humility and grace (sometimes), but mostly his self-deprecating humor.
A Strong Leader
Doug Marrone ALWAYS fell on the sword, perhaps even to a fault. If a player made an error during a critical moment, it was Doug's bad. If a coach didn't do a good enough job, it was Doug's mistake. He never placed blame on anyone besides himself, and that's a sign of a genuine leader. He was also loyal, probably too loyal. He kept Todd Wash around long after he should've received the ax. And when he could've thrown coaches and players under the bus during a 1-15 embarrassment of a season, Marrone stayed the course, unwavering.
Did Doug Marrone get a fair shake? What would his tenure have looked like if Tom Coughlin wasn't creeping over his shoulder for the first three years? Would he have ever gotten the job without Tom Coughlin? Would he still have some of his best players like Jalen Ramsey, Yannick Ngakoue, Allen Robinson, and Telvin Smith had Coughlin not been controlling the roster? We'll never know what may have been without the influence of Tom Coughlin from 2017-2019. It's funny. Coughlin was probably the number one catalyst for Doug's rise from interim coach to full-time head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Coughlin might also be the main reason for the demise of the Jags and ultimately Doug's firing.
A Flawed Coach
Don't get me wrong — Doug was not a perfect head coach. He made critical errors throughout his run with the Jags. He took his foot off the gas against the Patriots in Foxborough during the biggest game in franchise history, allowing Tom Brady and the Pats to storm back (MJWD). There were many in-game gaffs and poor decisions made. Heck, he traded Ronnie Harrison this summer for a bag of chips to get Josh Jones in the lineup at safety. That was a glaring mistake. Allowing Todd Wash to go into a max prevent defense, essentially gifting the Bears three points at the end of the half a few weeks ago, was mind-numbingly stupid. And Marrone never gave the Jaguars an advantage on either side of the ball. He's not an offensive genius or a defensive mastermind. He had no specialty when it came to being a head coach and didn't give his team an advantage on either side of the ball.
A flawed head coach, a good dude, and a strong leader — it didn't work out for Doug Marrone in Jacksonville. And the next head coach, whoever that may be, will be walking into an envious position. The Jaguars are on the precipice of landing a generational franchise QB, reeling in some big fishes in free agency, and changing the course of the franchise for the next decade-plus. Doug won't be here for any of it, but the Jaguars wouldn't be here without him.
I'll miss Doug.
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