The Jacksonville Jaguars were the first NFL team to fill a coaching vacancy this offseason, hiring offensive line coach Doug Marrone to take over as head coach.
The move hardly stirred the NFL world. With several high-profile coaches and intriguing assistants on the market, hiring a line coach with a below-.500 head-coaching record, who was already on a 3-13 team, was not all that stirring.
However, the move actually signals something of importance, according to MMQB’s Albert Breer — the Jaguars “doubled down” on Blake Bortles.
According to Breer, Jaguars GM David Caldwell (who also got an extension) said that starting Bortles wouldn’t be a mandate for a next coach. However, Caldwell also said he believes in Bortles, and Breer reports that the Jaguars weren’t going to hire a coach who felt that the fourth-year quarterback was “broken.”
Marrone has not only worked with Bortles, he is also representative of where the Jaguars are as a franchise — with no other viable quarterback options on the roster, if Bortles can’t be fixed, then it doesn’t matter who the coach is.
Bortles struggled mightily in his third season, as many noted a regression in his mechanics after an impressive second season. Though Bortles’ 35 touchdowns in 2015 were inflated by the number of blowouts he also played in, it still represented a positive step for a quarterback surrounded by some promising receivers. In 2016, Bortles numbers regressed while his top two weapons, Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns, both saw their receiving numbers dip dramatically.
According to Breer, some people don’t think Bortles is a lost cause. One AFC executive told Breer:
“I don’t think he’s as terrible as everyone makes him out to be. He needs to clean up his mechanics obviously, but the offence hasn’t helped him. If your expectations are for him to be a top-five QB, then no, he’s not that. If it’s for him to be 15-20, then sure, they should be able to get him there.”
The Jaguars may not be all that far off. They finished 13th in defensive DVOA, and possess several young, talented players on both sides of the ball. If Marrone, however unexcited his name may be as a hire, can help Bortles rebound, the Jaguars may sooner realise their collective talent than expected.
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