It’s not that Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone is falling into what Tom Coughlin believes a team needs, it’s that Marrone believes the same things. And he has for a long time.
“Fatigue makes cowards of us all,” he said this week after another “activity” that was long on conditioning and not much else. Marrone says the team needs to be in better shape and they’ve only taken a small step in that direction.
“For us, in order to be a tough, physical team – the first thing you have to do is you have to be in shape,” Marrone said this week. “You have to be strong. You have to withstand the mental toughness because in this profession the day you walk in is probably the healthiest you’ll be and the day you start practicing everyone has something.”
‘Wow, this is where we are,” he explained. “You feel where we have to be at. We have a long way to go.’ I think now there is a vision of where we need to get to as far as being in shape, how strong we want to be, how fast we want to practice, how many plays we want to get run.”
That was the theme of the mini-camp on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of this week. Setting a goal of running about 100 plays per practice meant an up tempo two hours and an accelerated pace over the three days. Marrone told the players when they left Thursday afternoon that they need to continue to build their stamina and strength leading up to training camp. The end of July will be no time to work yourself into it according to Marrone’s message.
“We’re going to have to make some decisions, we’re going to have to make them quick, you better come in here ready to go because if you’re not ready to go and you’re thinking it’s going to take me a little while to get this thing going before I play, you won’t be in the mix.”
When Branden Albert reported on Tuesday, the first mandatory day for veterans, Marrone continued to hone his image and the Jaguars culture saying “I’m not here to make more friends,” when asked about building a relationship with Albert. “I have enough friends. I’m not about building a relationship. I’m here to win football games.”
Paramount among the things the Jaguars need to fix is the offensive line. Adding the former pro bowler Albert could give the team some options by the start of the preseason. It’s not a stretch to call him the lynchpin in the Jaguars offensive line plans for 2017.
“I think he understands when he comes back he’s going to have to be in much better shape and to be able to go out there and perform,” Doug noted. “He’s a professional so he knows that.”
Entering his 10th year in the league, Albert is a professional and displayed that by showing up for mini-camp and saying that business part of his no-show for OTA’s was over.
“My advisors and everything. We were trying to get the situation straight,” he explained. “It was something, it was business-wise. It wasn’t personal. Now, it’s over with. Now, I get back to work, be the best football player that I can be and move forward to help the Jacksonville Jaguars organization move on.”
Looking to have a competitive contract as a professional athlete is part of the job. Albert’s deal calls for about $9 million this year, well under the going rate for veteran left tackles in the league. But when the Jaguars balked at giving him a new deal, he showed up. But he knows what the other guys are making.
“Yeah, but you’re blessed. There’s not a lot of people even near my situation. You have to put it this way, that I’m one of the best experts at playing left tackle in the universe right now. I take that as a privilege and a blessing. It is what it is. Got to move on.”
When pressed on his contract, Albert was a realist about making $9 million or making zero.
“The market is the market. My situation is my situation. Each situation is different. The situation was presented to me. I can’t do anything to control it. Like I said, at the time, when you see this situation and the market came out, you try to do what’s best business-wise. It didn’t work that way. It’s time to move on. I don’t think I’m underpaid, but when you look at the market at that time and in that situation and you’re being moved around how I was, it’s just a business move. Now that’s over with, it’s time to play football.” Kind of exactly what you’d hope a professional would say.
As far as not being in shape, Albert basically told everybody to relax.
“I’m not worried about it,” he said. “It’s the end of June. It’s not game time yet. I’m just happy to be out here with the guys and with the team, just working. I feel blessed to be here and be back playing football. I’m way more healthy than I’ve felt the last few years. I’m just happy to be here.”
When he showed up, Albert passed his physical and the conditioning test but as everybody knows, there’s being in shape and there’s being in football shape. Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin made sure to give Albert some incentive to be ready when training camp started.
“He said something about my weight,” Albert said with a laugh. “It was more joking around. I believe he’s happy I’m here, working with the guys. I told him, don’t worry about that. I’ll be ready to go when it’s time. I had to take time for myself. It was a long three years in Miami. I took a beating. I think I needed to take a break for myself and get myself together.”