Sam Kouvaris: Marrone's coaching roots reveal his philosophy

Influence of Dick MacPherson at Syracuse clear

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Earlier this week Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone said he wasn’t telling anybody how long players would see action in the first preseason game Thursday night against the New England Patriots.  Not the players, not the coaches. But the day before the game, Marrone said he does have an idea.

“I feel in my mind right now I have a good plan of what we want to do as far as the players who are playing,” Marrone said after a walk-through with the Patriots on their practice fields in Foxboro, MA.  “I just want to make sure when we get together tonight that it matches up with our personnel, our short yard, goal line, nickel, things of that nature. We wanted to wait to see where we are from a health standpoint first.”

There’s not a better situation the Jaguars could have been in this week, going up against the World Champions and seeing “what it’s supposed to look like,” as most players said.

“I think for us the work was outstanding,” Marrone explained.  “I think that we found out a couple of things that I think the main point of just inconsistency, the up and down. I think when you’re a team that has won a lot of football games you’re going to see that and you’re going to strive for that consistency, because really at the end of the day the teams that win are very consistent with their approach and all three phases and their execution.”

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Are the Jaguars getting there?  Marrone said they’re moving in that direction, and while there’s a sense of urgency, it’s not going to happen overnight.  You can see improvement over previous years and even previous practices but after watching direct competition against the Patriots, the Jaguars need their current players to be better and an upgrade of the whole roster.

Running drills against the Patriots all looked fine.  But when the teams faced off against each other, "situational football” in the current vernacular, the Jaguars were a step behind.

“It’s not an excuse, but that’s where we need to be a lot better when we get out there in situations and get out there in 11-and-11 situations and execute. Again, I keep saying it, but I just want to make sure everyone understands we’re working our way towards it, but there’s still a ways to go and we have time, it’s not going to be a panic situation, but it’s definitely a high priority,” Marrone said.

So how do you get the players to improve every day?  Marrone has preached consistency since the beginning of camp, saying he’ll see one play or some flashes of what he likes but it’s doing it over and over that counts. He answer gives us a little insight into Doug’s overall philosophy on how to be a professional football player.

“It doesn’t come just when you get on the field,” Doug said about his philosophy. “It’s about being on time, having a clean locker room, making sure you pick things up, paying attention, focus. I mean every single thing we do there has to be a level of focus. I think when we talk about conditioning, strength, stamina, making sure we’re well-conditioned, we’re ready to go so that our mind doesn’t fatigue. This way when you go on the field, you have an opportunity, you have to know the play and then you can concentrate on technique and what you have to do to win. So there’s a lot of foundation before we get to that point of what consistency is so we really need consistency in the foundation of the discipline, the stamina, the focus to be able to go on the field and be able to perform at that level.”

When Doug talked about his coach at Syracuse, Dick MacPherson, who died on Tuesday at 86 years old, you could see how much MacPherson meant to him and the person and coach he’s become.  The transcript is below but you’ll get a lot more of the spirit of Marrone’s comments by watching his answer here:

“First of all, words can never really put to justice what Coach Mac was, not only just to me, but my teammates, even when I was there, the players, the community. I went to school. I was part of his first recruiting class, along with the other players that were with me. I told this to Coach, like a lot of us that have been in this profession, when I was a player, I didn’t understand sometimes the things that he asked us to do and just trusted him. When I left college, I called him a year later and I told him, ‘Coach, I know it’s late, but I just want to apologize for some of the things, the way I behaved, but I got it now. I understand now.’ He said, who’s this again? That was the kind of a guy that Coach Mac was. I went to school with his daughters, so I knew them at a young age. Macky MacPherson, the grandson, played for me when I was the head coach at Syracuse. Kind of like with my relationship now with Coach Coughlin was my relationship when I was the head coach at Syracuse with Coach Mac. I tried to simulate the same program that he ran when he was the head coach. We had some benefits for that, relying on him. At the end of the day, I think people do know this. That’s the one thing. We know he was a great man. He was an unbelievable husband to Sandra, who is really the rock behind every head coach in my opinion. An unbelievable father, an unbelievable grandfather, an outstanding coach and an unbelievable representative of not only Central New York, but even his roots back here in Massachusetts. He went to Springfield and Maine, where he’s from. I learned a lot from Coach. I learned about priorities in life. I had all my priorities mixed up when I was a young player. Coach got it right. He asked all of us to write a letter saying what our priorities are. As a young, incoming freshman, you start writing about how you want to play football. ‘I want to make the traveling team, I want to be a starter, I want to be All-East, I want to be this.’ He would write a letter to all of us about what his priorities were and he would talk about faith being first. He would talk about family being second. He would always slash academics and football, which I always laughed with him about. Fourth was a social life. It’s a unique exercise that we’ve all gone through as players, but it’s one that I’ve continued to do every single year because those things start to change what they mean to you. I could never be thankful enough for what Coach has done for me and my teammates and the community and the teams that have been through. I just don’t know if I could ever say enough. I appreciate you asking that question and giving me this opportunity. It’s been tough for me. I’ve been trying not to show that to the players because we have a job to do here. It didn’t cause me to be a distraction to the players and I haven’t spoken to the players about it or any of the assistant coaches except the ones that were with me at Syracuse.”