It was pretty much business as usual for Interim Head Coach Doug Marrone’s first conference call after leading the Jaguars to victory last Saturday. He still deflected any credit for the win, saying the players made the difference.
“The players went out and did well, if they didn’t would that be a reflection of me?” he asked rhetorically. “I’ve been a head coach before. I’m still focused on the players and the assistant coaches here.”
As a candidate for the permanent position with the Jaguars, Marrone seems to be an afterthought. But could he be a serious candidate if they win again next week? He still doesn’t see these two weeks as an audition.
“No matter what happens here, at least they can go forward, with a good idea of what can happen here in the future,” he said.
Whether watching it live or reviewing the game video, it’s pretty obvious that the difference in the Jaguars was the play of quarterback Blake Bortles. He made the routine throws; he made quick decision, just played like he was supposed to have played all year.
“For Blake it’s probably his best game of the season.” Marrone said. “He got off to a good start. Got ARod involved early. Overall, outstanding, taking what the defense was giving him. Very impressed.”
Was there a difference? Did they do something that made things better? Or is it just coincidence that Bortles and Allen Robinson as well as the whole offense played their best game of the year the week after Gus Bradley was fired? Marrone admitted they moved Robinson around to some different positions on the line of scrimmage but that was about it.
“I can’t answer how they were feeling but we did try to make an effort during the week to get a couple of extra throws in. We wanted to keep the communication happening.”
So why did the Jaguars as a whole play better? Marrone couldn’t answer that except to give credit to the players and how they approached the game. No different than any other according to the guy temporarily in charge.
“I think there were times that we put the ball on the ground and had penalties we wound up being fortunate,” he explained. “They felt comfortable with the plan and how we wanted to attack the Titans. I saw a level of focus that when we took the field that we had goals in mind and how to do them.”
As simple as that I suppose, but when it comes right down to it, your team goes as your quarterback goes in the NFL. If Bortles had played close to this way all year, the Jaguars would be one of the teams “in the hunt” for a playoff spot.
Some credit is due Marrone for keeping a steady hand during the week, tweaking a few things but getting the staff and the players ready to play a football game. He might have a bit of a self-deprecating manner about his role, but his actions set the tone for the team and allowed them to play.
On some specific notes, Doug said it was good play calling by both Offensive Coordinator Nathaniel Hackett and Bortles that kept the Titans guessing. “The NFL is about trying to stay a step ahead. If you’re having success with a play, they’re going to make an adjustment and take that away.”
And that both Dante Fowler and Yannick Ngakoue are coming along.
“It’s one of the more difficult situations for young defensive ends coming into the league. You can out-athletic or out-physical people in college. In the NFL, tackles are bigger, more athletic, have more patience. Quarterbacks get rid of the ball quicker.”
On the offensive line, he pointed to right tackle Jeremy Parnell as a player who’s lifting his game at the end of the year.
“The last three games we’ve played, Parnell has had the best three games he’s played since he’s been here. AJ has had some inconsistency in pass protection but had his most physical game. We feel pretty good about the direction they’re going.”
But he saved his most effusive praise for Jalen Ramsey saying he probably hasn’t come close to as good as he’ll be.
“I have been around some very good corners, Pro Bowl type players. Ramsey has everything you want, for me; the thing I’ve been most impressed with is his competitiveness. I see someone who goes out there who’s extremely competitive and wants to get the job done. There’s no ceiling to his ability.”