The first of the six known head coach vacancies in the NFL was filled overnight as the Jaguars decided to stick with interim head coach Doug Marrone.
Sometimes in life you spend a lot of time looking for something, only to find that you had it all of the time. So it has been in Jacksonville, where the Jaguars have had their own ‘they were on your head the whole time’ moment and decided to stick with the head coach that they already had, Doug Marrone.
Of course, this being the NFL things aren’t quite as straightforward as all that. The operation of the Rooney Rule means that teams have to actively search for new head coaches, even if the best option is sitting under their nose the whole time.
Alongside Marrone will be the Jags’ very first head coach, Tom Coughlin, who returns to the team as an executive vice-president. General manager Dave Caldwell gets a contract extension, too.
Marrone famously walked out of Buffalo when the team was sold to Terry and Kim Pegula, having just posted a 9-7 season. If anything, his roster of talent in Jacksonville will be even greater. A potentially great defence built around big free agency signings such as Malik Jackson and first round pick Jalen Ramsey ought to easily match anything Marrone had with the Bills (and is likely to be coached by Nathaniel Hackett, who was on Marrone’s staff in Buffalo). On the offensive side of the ball, whilst the coordinator position remains in some flux, that there is a settled quarterback situation and more than one top quality receiver is already a great improvement on Marrone’s previous experiences.
All of this will mean nothing, though, if Marrone can’t get the Jags winning again. A 3-13 record this season after all of the hope and expectation engendered by their off-season recruitment was what cost Gus Bradley his job. Those expectations have been sufficiently lowered that most Jaguars fans would simply accept a winning season in 2017.
Whilst the hiring of Marrone may not be that unexpected, it is interesting that Jacksonville decided to end their hunt now, suggesting that there was nothing being offered by any of the young coaches still involved in the playoffs, such as Kyle Shanahan or Josh McDaniels, that they felt they couldn’t get from Marrone.