10 January 2017

Can Doug Marrone & Tom Coughlin bring the Jaguars back to respectability?

There is a new team running the show in Jacksonville, for the most part, as they given the head coaching gig to interim coach Doug Marrone while also bringing back former head coach Tom Coughlin as the Executive Vice President of Football Operations. Marrone previously served as the head coach of the Buffalo Bills before his controversial departure after the 2014 season while Coughlin followed up his successful first tenure with the Jaguars and then a very successful run with the New York Giants where he won a pair of Super Bowls.

The Jaguars have only made the playoffs twice this century with the last appearance coming in 2007, can these two be the ones to bring quality football back to the River City?
It is an interesting and perhaps unusual front office structure that is being constructed in Jacksonville. GM David Caldwell will still be around, and in fact was given an extension to match the contracts of both Coughlin and Marrone, but Coughlin will have final say over the 53-man roster. Coughlin was also not involved in the process of hiring Marrone which could potentially make for an interesting fit between the two.

Coughlin has the record of being a tremendous head coach throughout his tenures in Jacksonville and in New York so he brings some serious credibility in terms of being a football guy. However, he also has no executive experience in terms of working in a front office so it will be interesting to see how things evolve as he takes over roster control from Caldwell, who has largely done a decent job of building up the roster, particularly on the defensive end, despite the team's poor record.

The fact that the team did look a little better during his two-game stint as the interim coach certainly didn't hurt Marrone's case to get the full job but more importantly, his background on offense and his willingness to work with Blake Bortles seems to have sealed the deal. Bortles took a clear step backward this season but the team is still committed to him and his development. He did play a little better when Marrone took over for Gus Bradley but there still are legitimate concerns over his accuracy and his decision-making. Therefore, it will be critical for Marrone to help develop Bortles into some sort of a franchise quarterback.

Marrone isn't the sexiest hire as promoting interim coaches has a mixed record and because his 15-17 record as coach of the Bills isn't that great. He did uncork a 9-7 record in 2014 with the Bills with Kyle Orton and E.J. Manuel as his starting quarterbacks and that's no small feat, even as the defense under coordinator Jim Schwartz was really good that year. I think he's a good coach and thus I think this is a decent hire but I still have questions about the state of his departure from the Bills.

Both he and Coughlin are known for having strong personalities which could make their relationship one to watch. There is talent on this roster, which makes Bradley's tenure so disappointing, but this team still hinges on Bortles and I still haven't seen enough to make it worthy of that stunning third overall selection in 2014.

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