JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – One day after kicking off the season with a win, Doug Marrone sounded like a man ready to put the victory behind him.
The Jaguars coach is typically a guy who doesn’t celebrate for long, but considering the contributions from so many parts of the roster, Marrone did acknowledge that the team showed remarkable maturity for such a young roster, responding to early adversity in a 27-20 win on Sunday over the Colts.
Specifically, you can point to the first 12 minutes of the game where the Jaguars found themselves trailing 7-0 with the Colts on the doorstep of adding to the lead. Indianapolis opted to go for it on fourth and 1 from the Jaguars' 4-yard line.
But the Jaguars defense responded, stuffing Marlon Mack, taking the ball back on downs and triggering a resurgence for the whole team.
“I think people put a lot of words, and rightfully so at times, they’ll talk about, maturity or experience and all those things do come into play. But when you have a young team like we have, I think the best word is probably just trust,” Marrone said. “I think that they trust each other. They trust that everyone is going to continue to fight. Everyone is going to continue to play.”
Was that a shot at last year’s squad that clearly had issues in the locker room? Marrone has referenced fixing the culture in Jacksonville. That was the common theme with many of the moves made in the offseason trading Yannick Ngakoue and Ronnie Harrison and waiving Leonard Fournette.
Now the question: can they keep it up?
“I think that’s where we’ll get better going on. We watched this film and we watched the effort and we watch everything. You have to trust that everyone is going to do their job, make sure you do yours. Don’t look for anything else. I keep using this phrase, hey, ‘We’re going to keep moving forward.’ It’s the same thing.”
The Jaguars' rookie class made major contributions Sunday with undrafted rookie running back James Robinson providing most of the offense early on, second-round pick Laviska Shenault catching a touchdown pass and C.J. Henderson intercepting Philip Rivers once and knocking away a pass in the game-clinching play on fourth down in the fourth quarter.
They weren’t alone.
If the Jaguars are going to evolve into contenders — as far fetched as that seemed days ago — they’ll have to continue to get important contributions from rookies.
The thought that rookies could make that much of a difference early in a season that did not include offseason practices or preseason games seems counter-intuitive, but Marrone saw in training camp that the gap between the rookies and veterans wasn’t what he typically sees.
“I can’t speak for the other coaches; they might have a whole different opinion of it. You know, just like, 'Hey look, is he going to poop down his pants? I’m saying when the lights come on,” Marrone said.
“But if you’re going to go by what someone’s doing, every single day and how they’re practicing and expect the experience that you have as a coach that that’s what’s going to be able to truly carry over onto the field and, then you put them out there and, to what you say, expected impact of this. I think you have to expect that of anyone you put on the field.”