JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – For a young team that doesn’t have much playoff experience, the Jaguars will lean on their veterans who have been there and a coaching staff that has been around the league a while. Head Coach Doug Marrone doesn’t have that much postseason experience as a player or as a coach, but his staff, including Keenan McCardell, Tyrone Wheatley and Pat Flaherty has seen plenty of playoff football in the NFL. And Marrone’s mentor, Jaguars VP of Football Operations Tom Coughlin knows a few things about the post-season in the league, including two Super Bowl runs.
“This is the start of a different type of season,” Marrone said at his Monday press conference. “This is twelve teams. Every one of those teams is dangerous and it comes down to how you perform on that Sunday. It really does.”
We know Marrone as a coach, and as a player, likes the structure and routine of preparing for a game. For him, he won’t change for the playoffs. He had a bologna sandwich last night when he got home from Nashville.
“The routine is the same. I think the focus just naturally picks up,” he said. “You want to make sure there is a lot of communication. It is like you do every week, but you are just checking the boxes, just one more time. That is probably it. To say, you want to make sure everything is clear, the plan is clear, what we want to do is clear, everyone understands and the reason why, that is a big thing is because when everything is clear, you can play harder and play faster.”
When Marrone was the head coach in Buffalo for two years, the Bills didn’t make the playoffs. He exercised a clause in his contract to leave the Bills and pursue another job. He thought another head coaching job was on the horizon, but instead ended up in Jacksonville as the offensive line coach. Naturally, there were some hard feelings in Buffalo when he left. But he says that’s not anything he’s paid attention to and it’s far in the past.
“For me, the past is the past. I’m happy for them. We’ve earned it the same as they’ve earned it. It’s as easy as that for me.”
When pressed, Marrone understood the storyline but clearly doesn’t think its part of winning a football game on Sunday.
“This stuff happened so long ago,” he explained with an exasperated tone. “There has obviously been a lot of stuff out there. That stuff is done. It is over. I can’t put it any simpler than that. I am not going to take away from my primarily responsibility to look back on a situation that occurred three years ago. If I do that, then I shouldn’t be the coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars. My job is to make sure I do the best job for this team. My focus is on our fans, our team and where we want to go.”
As happy as Marrone says he is for Buffalo, and the rest of the playoff teams for that matter, he said he’s more pleased for the Jaguar fans this week.
“I look at it for our fans,” he said. “Their resiliency through difficult times, not being in the playoffs since 2007 and not at home since 1999 (2000 AFC Championship game). I’m excited for our fans.”
Knowing there were several possibilities for the Jaguars opponent in the first round, the video and research staffs have been putting together background on everybody, Buffalo included.
“I’ve seen them during the year,” Marrone revealed. “You get crossed, some of the games you cover. We’re all prepared before, knowing that we were going to play after the season was over. We have it broken down so we’re ready to go right away.”
Even though it’s a long season, Marrone said the schedule will be the same, including practicing in pads this week on Thursday.
Will they be putting in overtime since it’s a one-and-done scenario?
“I can’t put in any overtime,” Marrone said with a laugh. ”There’s no more time left in the day. I’m serious. Coaches are creatures of habit. Everything on the schedule, it’s like, I could go back, it’s so easy if someone says, ‘during the season in 2007 and whatever on this Wednesday at this time, what were you doing?’ And if it’s something during work time, I can pretty much tell you we were doing red zone or we were doing third down.”
So just as a test, Marrone was asked what he did during “Chicago week, Thursday” when he was coaching in New Orleans in 2007.
“Thursday? We were always—Thursday in New Orleans was red zone night. I can tell you exactly what we ate, too. We always had pizza and we always had, for me, I always wanted crab dip. Outstanding. So we always had that and that night we went through every single red zone clip from the season, from Chicago season and I guarantee you I didn’t get home until about 12:30.”
Pizza, crab dip, bologna sandwiches, all part of the Doug Marrone routine. He says he only pets his dogs after wins. Jaguars fans are hoping the Marrone dogs get plenty of love Sunday night.