Jaguars fire coach Doug Marrone after 15-loss season

Owner Shad Khan said team needs a ‘fresh start’ throughout the franchise

Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone directs his players against the Indianapolis Colts during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone directs his players against the Indianapolis Colts during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton) (Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jaguars’ housecleaning is in full swing.

Owner Shad Khan fired coach Doug Marrone on Monday morning and commenced with a full-on front office and coaching staff purge that was long expected as the team limped to the worst finish in franchise history. The Jaguars were scheduled to have a 9 a.m. press conference but that was later pushed to 10:30. Khan is scheduled to speak then.

In a statement announcing the move, Khan said a “fresh start throughout our football operations” was needed.

“I am committed and determined to deliver winning football to the City of Jacksonville. Realizing that goal requires a fresh start throughout our football operations, and with that in mind I spoke this morning with Doug Marrone to express me gratitude for his hard work over the past four seasons as the head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars,” Khan said.

“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. 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.”

The move cleared the way for a full reset in 2021.

The team finished the season 1-15 and will draft No. 1 overall this year for the first time in franchise history. Jacksonville is widely expected to draft Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence if he opts to leave for the NFL. The deadline for underclassmen to declare for the draft hasn’t been announced, but it’s typically in mid-January.

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The next coach is still a mystery, but the NFL Network reported Saturday night that former Florida and Ohio State coach Urban Meyer is a leading candidate. The team has reportedly interviewed or has intentions to bring in Trent Baalke, Jerry Reese, Louis Riddick and Rick Smith for interviews for its vacant general manager spot.

Khan fired general manager Dave Caldwell following a 27-25 loss to Cleveland on Nov. 29.

After that, it was only a matter of time before Khan pulled the plug on Marrone, too. While the coach is widely respected in town, there wasn’t much of a choice after the worst season in the team’s 26-year history. Marrone coached Jacksonville four full seasons and served in an interim role in 2016 for two games. He was 23-43 in the regular season, with double-digit losses in his final three years.

Jaguars coaching history

CoachYearsRecord/WPPlayoff record
Tom Coughlin1995-200268-60 (.531)4-4
Jack Del Rio2003-201168-71 (.489)1-2
Mel Tucker (interim)20112-3 (.400)0-0
Mike Mularkey20122-14 (.125)0-0
Gus Bradley2013-1614-48 (.226)0-0
Doug Marrone2016-202023-43 (.348)2-1

Marrone didn’t have much of a shot with this season’s roster, the league’s youngest, and a group with a significant talent gap that was evident in most games.

The rosters that both Caldwell and former executive vice president of football operations Tom Coughlin provided Marrone with were constantly lean offensively. Jacksonville started three different quarterbacks this season in Gardner Minshew, Mike Glennon and rookie sixth-round pick Jake Luton. Only Minshew managed to win a game.

After reaching the AFC championship game in 2017, the Jaguars went into a freefall. The Jaguars finished 5-11 in 2018, 6-10 in 2019 and finished the 2020 season on Sunday with a 28-14 loss to the Colts. That was the franchise-record upping 15th consecutive. Jacksonville won its season opener against Indianapolis and dropped every game after that.

Changes were expected.

Unless the Jaguars showed significant improvement in 2020 coming off of a 10-loss season, it was long known that Khan was poised to make sweeping changes to get Jacksonville on track.

Jacksonville fired Coughlin last December after the NFL Players Association issued a scathing rebuke of the franchise and Coughlin’s methods, which included excessive fines for players. Khan opted to retain Caldwell and Marrone, despite their track record with the franchise. Caldwell inherited a mess when he was hired in 2013, but had very little success on the field to point to as progress.

Caldwell had seven seasons of double-digit losses as general manager. Marrone, who replaced Gus Bradley after Week 14 in 2016, went 10-6, won the AFC South and led Jacksonville to the AFC championship game in his first full season as coach. He had double-digit losses every season since.

From the outset this season, it was apparent that 2020 wasn’t going to be kind to the Jaguars. Outside of a Week 1 win over the Colts and a solid effort the following week against the rival Titans, the Jaguars plummeted.

Injuries began piling up. Minshew regressed. And the defense struggled to hold anyone under 30 points. Marrone made it past the bye week, and the team showed improvement on the defensive side of the ball. After six consecutive games of teams cracking the 30-point mark, the Jaguars played much better on defense. But such a young team had little margin for error and often didn’t have the depth or talent to stay with teams for a full game.

Next season has the potential for a significant improvement.

The Jaguars are flush with draft picks, including a pair of first-rounders and two in the second round. They are also projected to have nearly $80 million in salary cap room available, according to OverTheCap.

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