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Jaguars fire head coach Marrone

By John Reid
The Florida Times-Union/TNS

After leading the Jaguars to their worst season in franchise history with a 1-15 record, Jaguars owner Shad Khan fired Doug Marrone after four seasons on Monday.

The Jaguars closed out the season Sunday with a 28-14 loss to Indianapolis Colts that extended their losing streak to a franchise-record 15-games.

Marrone lost 21 of his last 24 games, including going 12-36 since leading the Jaguars to the AFC championship game and winning the AFC South title during the 2017 season.

Speculation had persisted since the season spun out of control with a 10-game losing streak that Marrone would be fired once the season mercilessly ended. Khan fired general manager Dave Caldwell on Nov. 29 and assured Marrone, and his assistants would finish out the season.

Unable to meet expectations, Marrone went 24-43 after four seasons in Jacksonville.

''I’ll always appreciate Doug’s passion, grit and class, and I’m confident he will enjoy success in the next chapter of his career,'' Khan said in a statement.  ''As the search for our new general manager continues, now the quest begins to find a head coach who shares my ambition for the Jacksonville Jaguars and our fans, whose loyalty and faith are overdue to be rewarded.''

Urban Meyer a possible option?

Though it is speculated the Jaguars have shown interest in former Florida and Ohio State coach Urban Meyer to replace Marrone, Khan said he has not met with him or anyone else regarding the coaching vacancy.

''Obviously, I've known Urban over the years through the Big Ten and what have you, but we have not spoken to anyone about this job or interviewed them,'' Khan said. ''This si something I just made the decision this morning (Monday).''

On Saturday, the NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported Meyer has been lining up a staff and telling people he's close to in the football community that he expects to land in Jacksonville, per sources.

The speculation prompted Marrone to call Khan Saturday to see if it was true.

''He said it was news to him and he would talk to me on Monday,'' Marrone said after Sunday's game.

Other potential head-coaching candidates who could draw interest from the Jaguars include Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bienemy, Ohio State coach Ryan Day, Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll and former Indianapolis Colts, Detroit Lions coach Jim Caldwell.

Top NFL Draft pick boosts job appeal

The Jaguars' head coaching vacancy is considered an attractive job, especially with the franchise having locked up the No. 1 overall pick to select Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence.

Khan said their search will include looking at proven head coaches and assistants and he didn't rule out looking into the college ranks. Khan says there’s a “huge amount of interest” in both the vacant head coach and general manager jobs, much more so than the last time Marrone was promoted from interim head coach 2017.

Khan said he wants his next head coach to possibly retain some of  Marrone's assistants that are still under contract. Offensive coordinator Jay Gruden, who was hired last January, has a year remaining on his existing contract.

Khan also plans to implement a new front-office structure in which both the head coach and general manager will report to him. Khan also plans to have a larger input on roster decisions.

“The roster control is [because] you don’t want players going in and out or contracts given until you’re aware of that,'' Khan said. ''So striking the balance between delegation and abdication, I think, is an important point. Certainly, I found that in the last 15 months, having that necessitates a conversation, you’re part of the conversation with the GM and the head coach. So being part of that here for the immediate future I think is important to me.”

The Jaguars are expected to have more than $95 million in available cap space to upgrade their roster with veteran free agents. The Jaguars have two first-round picks for the second consecutive year, with their second first-round pick at No. 21.

''I am committed and determined to deliver winning football to the City of Jacksonville,'' Khan said. ''Realizing that goal requires a fresh start throughout our football operations.''

Two of Marrone's biggest issues during his three consecutive losing seasons was a lack of consistency at quarterback and ineffective defensive play. From Blake Bortles, Nick Foles, Gardner Minshew, and Mike Glennon, none could elevate the offense with the necessary productive play needed. Marrone made a change at quarterback five times before sticking with Glennon for the final two games.

“I think obviously developing a young quarterback, we’ve been very unsuccessful at that. [The] last eight years, we haven’t had a franchise quarterback, so I think that is very, very important,'' Khan said.

Perhaps, one of Marrone's biggest flaws was sticking with defensive coordinator Todd Wash, even though his units were ineffective for the past three seasons.  The Jaguars allowed the second-most yards per game (417.7) and the second-most points per game (30.8) this season. In their season finale, Colts rookie running back Jonathan Taylor gashed the Jaguars for a  franchise-record 253 yards rushing and two touchdowns.

The Jaguars were one of the worst run defenses in the league for the second consecutive season. They surrendered 153.3 yards per game, the third-highest in the league. In 2019, the Jaguars allowed 139.3 yards per game that ranked as the fifth-highest. 

Head coach Doug Marrone of the Jacksonville Jaguars  walks onto the field during the second half against the Chicago Bears on Dec. 27, 2020 at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, Fla. The Jaguars have fired Marrone as head coach.