On Saturday, ESPN reporter Dianna Russini tweeted that the Jacksonville Jaguars will be firing head coach Doug Marrone after Sunday’s game against the Colts. Whether the Jaguars win or lose, they’ll end up with a losing record and miss the playoffs, seemingly sealing Marrone’s fate. However, subsequent reports suggest Marrone isn’t fired just yet:
Regardless, it’s time to consider how a new Jaguars head coach could turn the franchise around.
The Jaguars have suffered through a lot of mediocre quarterbacking. Anyone remember Byron Leftwich? Recently, the Jaguars spent years trying to develop highly touted prospect Blake Bortles, who is instead best known for his humorous off-the-field antics.
But even with Bortles, the quarterback wasn’t the problem. They were just one half away from beating the Patriots in the 2018 AFC Championship Game and making Super Bowl 52, after all. Regardless of the quarterback, the scheme was doomed to failure. That’s because the Jaguars haven’t invested in receivers.
The team’s top receiver for the whole decade, Marcedes Lewis, caught just 2,978 yards for the Jags. Only two wide receivers even had thousand-yard seasons all decade. It’s gotten worse. For example, the Jaguars top tight end this year has just 214 receiving yards, which is 44th in the league.
Between Marrone and recently fired VP of football operations Tom Coughlin, the Jaguars have stuck to a 1990s-style run-first game plan. This may have worked during Coughlin’s first run with the Jaguars 20 years ago, but it is woefully outdated in today’s NFL.
Doug Marrone likely cemented his fate when he decided to bench rookie Gardner Minshew midway through the season. But as we predicted, it would be impossible to kill Minshew Mania. In addition to delighting fans with his off-the-wall persona and illustrious mustache, Minshew brought a spark to the team. They won four out of their first seven games with Minshew as starter.
When Marrone brought back overpaid starter Nick Foles midway through the season, it crushed the team’s spirit. The Jaguars have only won one game since. Without competent receivers and a modern passing scheme, any quarterback would struggle in Jacksonville. The Jaguars need to stop wasting so much time and money on quarterbacks like Bortles and Foles. End the drama and make Minshew the permanent starter. Minshew is still unpolished and young, but he already plays pretty well. The team’s problems are elsewhere.
The Jaguars have had a wealth of high draft picks and top-notch defensive players in recent years. Running back Leonard Fournette has star power as well. But the team has been held back by poor leadership. The offensive scheme is not creative. And the Jaguars consistently lack discipline; they’ve been among the most penalized teams in the league. Despite that, Khan has shown little urgency in improving the team’s front office personnel.
Longtime Jaguars fans increasingly think that Khan is disinterested in the team and wants to move the Jaguars to London to make more money.
Any new Jaguars head coach needs to make it clear, when they accept the job, that the team’s culture must change. It’s not enough to get another new quarterback or draft another highly touted pass rusher. They need a complete overhaul. They dumped Coughlin, and that’s a good start, but a new coach would need complete autonomy.