The Jacksonville Jaguars became the sixth NFL team to fire their head coach during this difficult 2020 season, making the decision to part ways with top man Doug Marrone on Monday morning.
Marrone first took hold of the Jags head coaching gig on an interim basis during the 2016 season, when the team had one of the most feared defenses in the league. In 2017, the Bronx native rode that defense to the team’s first AFC South division title since 1999 as well as an appearance in the AFC title game, the first time the franchise had made it to the postseason in a decade.
The 56-year-old put together a 25-44 record including playoffs in four-plus years at the helm, though Jacksonville has gone just 12-36 since that 2017 AFC Championship game loss to the Patriots. Marrone and company’s rapid fall from grace culminated in their 1-15 showing this season, becoming just the 11th team to finish with such a record in the past 40 years.
It was truly one for the books, with Jacksonville allowing more points in a single season than they ever have (492) and becoming just the fifth team to give up 20+ points in each contest of a 16-game season. The Jaguars’ consecutive losses to the previously winless Dolphins, Bengals, and Texans during the campaign also makes them the first team in NFL history to lose three straight games to winless teams, according to Elias Sports Bureau.
The one positive from this season for the Jags (yes, they did have one) had to be the awe-inspiring play of undrafted rookie running back James Robinson. The Rockford, Illinois native piled up 1,070 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground to go with 344 yards and three more scores through the air, becoming just the third undrafted back to top the 1,000 rush yards milestone in his rookie year.
The major silver lining of that god awful campaign is that the team is now in position to draft the NFL’s ‘next-big-thing’ in Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who has been described by some as the best and most complete quarterback prospect since Andrew Luck, or even Peyton Manning. Lawrence is such a shoo-in to be nabbed with that no. 1 pick in the 2021 NFL draft that it’s not even worth sharing the betting odds with you now.
“What’s evaded the history of the Jags really has been a franchise QB,” Jags owners Shahid Khan said. “What’s unique is we have the ability now to make a choice, and it’s going to define the franchise moving forward.”
Another major consideration for the Marrone firing was that Khan, who purchased the franchise in 2011, intends to make major alterations to the organizational structure of the team. These changes include putting the new general manager and head coach on equal footing and having both report directly to Khan.
“A key thing how we would be structuring this is that I’m going to have the general manager and the head coach report directly to me. That way, really, you have the transparency and the needs and the concerns of both parties without really getting filtered or having a chain of command,” Khan explained. “… You basically hire them about the same time and really you have a perfect alignment, which you need in a winning organization.”
The multi-billionaire from Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan has also indicated that he intends to have a much larger say in the roster construction while also maintaining the roster control he’s had in past years, though that doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll be having the final say on the 53-man roster.
“Roster control is you don’t want players going in and out or contracts given until you’re aware of that. So striking the balance between delegation and abdication I think is an important point, and certainly I found that in the last whatever 15 months having that necessitates the conversation—you’re part of the conversation with the GM and the head coach,” Khan said. “So being part of that here for the immediate future I think is important to me.”
Khan has used search firms, consultants, and advisers to make most of his previous hires, but the 70-year-old has said that this time it will be he and team president Mark Lamping interviewing and checking out prospective candidates, with Khan maintaining final say in these decisions.
The Jaguars have already interviewed a few candidates for the vacant general manager role such as ESPN analyst Louis Riddick and former New York Giants GM Jerry Reese, but Khan has said that he has not had any discussions with any possible replacements for Marrone as of yet, refuting reports that he had been in contact with legendary former college head coach Urban Meyer for the job.