If there’s one thing that Doug Marrone has learned in his years of coaching in the NFL it’s that it takes 53 guys, not just the starting 22 to compete. Injury, slumps, whatever, not every player is playing at his best on every play. So Marrone sees the big picture when it comes to who’s has and who is going to produce when it comes to game time.
“I remember Chris Reed being in there and (Tyler) Shatley being there and all the different players,” he said today talking about the different offensive line combinations he’s made. “You know it brings me back to a point where you want to make sure you’re ready to prepare, when someone taps you on the shoulder that you’re ready to go so you don’t live with regret. But it’s a credit to them and that has been part of us being able to win games with those guys stepping up even though it’s not written quite a bit.”
Plenty of theories abound regarding the Jaguars success this year. Marrone, Tom Coughlin, Calais Campbell and the free agents, Leonard Fournette. As the head coach Marrone has said all year he likes this team but it’s still a mystery to him.
“I still can’t figure out our own team,” he said. “They’re going to do the best job they can and make sure they are prepared and focused. They understand what we’re up against and we can’t make mistakes. We have to execute. You got to know what you are and what you have to do and we know it’s a great challenge.”
When he took over as the Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin had a short list of three for the head-coaching job. Marrone was at the top of that list, already on the Jaguars staff and well known to Coughlin. Both played and coached at Syracuse and Marrone sought him out as the coach of the Orange when Coughlin was in New York, looking for advice. They have a long history, so using Coughlin as a resource won’t be that much different this week based on Coughlin’s success against New England in the post-season.
“I have leaned on Coach pretty good since day one,” Marrone explained. “I don’t think I can lean on him anymore because I’m a big guy. If I lean on him, I hurt him a little (laughs). No but honestly, it’s not something that now all of a sudden that they have had success that Coach will get more involved. It’s been the same way from day one when we started working together. We’ve worked with each other the same amount of time together and talk about the same things.”
So while Coughlin and Marrone have the same ideas about how to win and what it takes, their personalities are very different. Marrone’s personality allows him to give the players credit, to give them some leeway on how they express themselves, even with the bravado the Jaguars have shown. But it goes back to his core values on what it takes to, as the title of Coughlin’s book reveals, “Earn the right to win.”
“I believe confidence comes in preparation,” he noted. “Being able to have success to some extent, so I think it is a little bit different for everyone else. What I will say is that I do believe that all three phases support each other and know that if something is not working well in one of the phases, that the other phase can pick it up. I think that is important.”
It’s worked for Marrone in his career to see himself as the guy who has to strive to get to the top. Hard work has paid off for him. So it’s no surprise that being the underdog this week seems to fit just fine.
“When you play against New England, who has not been an underdog? Everybody should. They’re the team you have to beat.”