As the Jaguars enter their final week of OTA’s (scheduled Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday) we’ve seen that they’re noticeably faster, they’re quarterback play is better than expected and they have high expectations of themselves.
“We achieved a lot but didn’t check all of the boxes of our goals. How great do we want to be?” Telvin Smith explained of the Jaguars motivation this year.
You don’t learn much in terms of actual football talent when it comes to OTA’s. “Everybody’s All-Airport” now retired NFL writer Vic Ketchman used to say. “Everybody looks like they’re going to the Pro Bowl when they’re walking through the airport.”
It doesn’t turn anybody’s eye when good things happen in “pajamas” as Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone calls the shorts and t-shirts practices.
“You can really get down on a guy in these situations,” Marrone explained. “You know, gee, he doesn’t run as well as I thought. And then when you put the pads on and start hitting you’re like, ‘Oh wait, he’s making all the plays.”
So as usual, you can’t make the tam in May or June, but you can get cut.
“We keep challenging the players with the discipline of mental errors at this time of year,” Marrone said. “One of the things that is important at this time of the year is making sure you have a true understanding.”
Honesty is one of the hallmarks of Marrone’s coaching philosophy. You can either do it or you can’t in his mind. And he’s developed his own way of evaluating players through mistakes he’s made.
As the Head Coach in Buffalo, Marrone admitted to making some mistakes in how he looked at who could play and who couldn’t. In his first year, he had a very simple way of seeing what was happening.
“It just went by what you saw on the film and how they did on the field,” he explained. “It was a very competitive environment. People rise to the occasion and thrive in that type of environment.”
But after he got to know the players, he started hedging on guys who he thought could play.
“I started to say he didn’t have a great day, but he has done this before. Putting those marbles in the bank based off of performance. I said to myself he will be fine. All last year he did this well. He will get this. He just had a bad day. The next day he had two bad days. Then all of a sudden you start coaching a little bit differently because of that experience you have had with that player.”
And he’s trying to avoid repeating that as the Jaguars head coach in year two.
“That experience has been in the past. You have to look what is going on right now and focus on the moment right now. That is why every day, myself included, if I just did everything exactly the same that I did last year then I am not helping this football team. I have to prove every day when I come in here that I am doing everything I can for us to win.”
It’s an old saying because it’s true in the NFL. You’re never staying the same. You’re either getting better or getting worse. Over the first two week’s of OTA’s the Jaguars are reminded of that every day.