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Assessing Jags Coaching Hires

Jan 29, 2015 -- 9:32am

By: David Levin (@davidlevin71)

Sometimes, the coaches an NFL team hires to run its offense and defense becomes just as important as the players that are drafted and sign as free agents.

In this case, who the Jacksonville Jaguars hired this past month have become as important as who the team will target in free agency and which player will become another signature draft pick of the Dave Caldwell/Gus Bradley era here in town.

Some fans are as excited about the hiring of assistant coaches to a staff that did little to inspire a major spike in wins for 2015. Others see it as a move that could be beneficial.

“I didn't realize coordinator hirings were expected to be inspiring. Who knew it was all about the coordinators. Here I've been thinking the talent on the field mattered more than who was calling the plays all these years.

People need to take a deep breath. (Greg) Olson has proven he can develop young talent. Marc Bulger had his best season under Olson. So did Freeman. He managed to get more out of Carr than anyone could have expected despite a lack of talent in Oakland,” said my friend Tim on a Jaguars fan page Wednesday night.

Actually he was dead on. The Jaguars want to make a splash in the way the roster plays in 2015, which is a direct link to the coaches that roam the sideline looking to show vast improvement.

The hiring of Greg Olson as offensive coordinator, Nathaniel Hackett as quarterbacks coach, Doug Marrone as offensive line/assistant head coach and Kelly Skipper to coach the running backs, Jacksonville and its management is making a statement – we need to get better.

With the exception of Marrone – which I believe is a dynamite hire by Gus Bradley – the other three additions come with question marks.

Hackett is young and while he was with Marrone at Syracuse and then in Buffalo, will he be able to help Blake Bortles take the next step?

Skipper was last in Oakland. Last time we checked Maurice Jones-Drew was proclaiming himself the savior of the running game. I wonder how that worked out for him.

And then there is Olson, who was here before with Mike Mularkey in 2012. He has worked with decent quarterbacks in St. Louis, Tampa Bay and Oakland. But he also worked with Blaine Gabbert and now has to help mold Bortles, along with Hackett, into a franchise passer.

The jury is still out on whether Olson was the right move. Personally, I think it needs time to marinade.

Fans are great at looking at stories online and in the newspapers and listening to ESPN and coming up with their own conclusions about how the team will be right now. Armchair general managers, I like to call them. If the staff, which took more than 40 days and 40 nights to make a decision (a little humor, please) on the “right” offensive coordinator, should be allowed to see how it goes. John Clayton of ESPN.com said the team’s coordinator position was one that assistant coaches shied away from. I’d like to think it was more of the team looking for the right fit.

Putting 53 players on a roster is a lot like solving a jigsaw puzzle. So is finding the right coaches to make up Gus Bradley’s staff. Shouldn’t we be happy the team took the time to find potentially the right fit on both fronts so we aren’t trying to fit the square peg in the round hole again next season? This team needs to become cohesive, not rigid as it appeared last season.

Jaguars sign punter Kasey Redfern to contract

Jan 29, 2015 -- 9:31am

The Jacksonville Jaguars signed first-year punter/kicker Kasey Redfern to a reserve/future contract, the club announced today.  Redfern spent the 2014 preseason with the Jaguars.

 

Redfern, 6-2, 215, was a four-year letterman at Wofford where he served as a punter and kicker.  He made 11 of 19 field goals in his final two seasons including a school-record 53-yarder as a junior.  He attended Ragsdale High School in Jamestown, North Carolina where he was a two-time all-conference selection.

Jaguars Foundation teams up with City Year

Jan 28, 2015 -- 12:26pm

The Jacksonville Jaguars Foundation is the proud team sponsor of City Year AmeriCorps Members serving at Matthew Gilbert Middle School. The team of nine City Year AmeriCorps members serves full time to keep the students in school and on track to graduate by serving as near-peer mentors and academic tutors in mathematics and English.

In addition to the team sponsorship, the Jaguars Foundation was excited to partner with City Year Jacksonville to expand the Honor Rows program to all eight of City Year’s schools this past season. Following three months of student pledges, City Year chaperoned a total of 247 students to the Jacksonville Jaguars game against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, October 28. Honor Rows provided a way for these students to earn their seat at the game by achieving academic and behavioral goals.

“City Year inspires children to set high expectations and work hard to achieve their full potential,” said Dan Foley, Vice President & Executive Director of City Year Jacksonville. “Through our partnership with the Jaguars Foundation and their Honor Rows Program, we were able to demonstrate that hard work and determination pays off. We are extremely grateful of our partnership and look forward to expanding this partnership year after year.”

City Year Jacksonville partners with Duval County Public Schools and teachers to place trained young adults in schools where they’re needed most to provide individual support to students who need extra care and attention. Working side-by-side with teachers, City Year AmeriCorps members use research-based early warning indicator and intervention systems to help students who are struggling—so more kids stay in school and on track to succeed.

According to City Year, across the country nearly 50 percent of the nation’s dropouts come from only 10 percent of the schools. Here in Jacksonville the average graduation rate in some of our highest-need schools is less than 50 percent. Over the next decade, City Year has bold plans for expansion, with a goal of reaching the cities that account for two-thirds of the nation’s dropouts and supporting nearly 800,000 students annually.

 

 

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About City Year                 

City Year is an education-focused, nonprofit organization founded in 1988 that partners with public schools and teachers to help keep students in school and on track to succeed.  In 25 communities across the United States and through two international affiliates, this innovative public-private partnership brings together teams of young AmeriCorps members who commit to a year of full-time service in schools. Corps members provide individual support to students who need extra care and attention, focusing on attendance, behavior, and course performance through in-class tutoring, mentoring, and after school programs.

Too Early to Judge New Staff Hires

Jan 22, 2015 -- 9:29am

By: David Levin (@davidlevin71)

Now that the Jaguars have finally named Greg Olson as their offensive coordinator and hired Greg Marrone to help redefine the offensive line, can we all wait before we start bashing the franchise for the choices it made?

Olson could be the best move the team makes in the offseason, given the fact that Olson had a chance to work with Derek Carr and helped him produce 21 touchdowns and over 3,200 yards passing. Carr, like Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles, was thrown into the mix of an NFL season going nowhere and was asked to produce under extreme circumstances.

Olson, who has spent time here in Jacksonville in past under Mike Mularkey, could be the perfect prescription for a quarterback still finding his way through growing pains and development.

I personally believe the Jaguars needed an older presence on the staff to help the maturity of the offense. If Bortles is going to continue to become the franchise player the team and the fans want him to be, then having an older, wiser advisor may be the best way to go. Doug Marrone’s presence on the staff, as a 50-year old former head coach and former offensive line coach, can only help the team as well.

It was reported over the weekend the Jaguars were trying to hire the holy trinity of Adam Gase as offensive coordinator, Olson as quarterback coach and Marrone as offensive line coach. Getting two out of three is not bad, but hiring all three would not have instantly guaranteed the success of this franchise. Coaches can only do just that – coach. Players must take what they are given and apply it on the practice field and in a live game. If they cannot do that, then the lessons learned are useless. Hopefully, a more veteran staff will help restore some confidence in this team. It could also be exactly what Gus Bradley needs to finally put a winning lineup on the grass at EverBank Field.

So much is made of Bradley and his coaching mentality and his emotional style that becomes infectious with his players and the fans. But let’s not forget this is Bradley’s first rodeo as a head coach. He is still technically learning on the job as well. In that case, he needs guidance and support and help with assembling a winner as well. Both Olson and Marrone give Bradley what he may need to take the next great step forward.

The Jaguars are now in a situation where the ground work is being laid for 2015. It starts with a foundation of a strong coaching staff. The addition of Marrone hopefully will bring in depth and a potential starter on the offensive line and at right tackle. There will be more input in free agents to be signed and draft picks to be chosen. The tools for Gus Bradley are enhanced. Now, the winning must begin. If these upgrades on the staff and potential roster cannot get this team closer to the playoffs, then there are no more excuses – changes will be made.

So, before the social media sites get out of control and fans jump off the bandwagon, let’s all take a moment to collect ourselves, breathe and realize change for the future is a good thing. How that change is handled depends on how we perceive it. The truth is, we will only embrace this change if the end result is more wins and a march toward the post season.

Jaguars add two veteran coaches to staff

Jan 21, 2015 -- 3:41pm

Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley announced today the hiring of Greg Olson as offensive coordinator and Doug Marrone as assistant head coach-offense/offensive line coach.

 

“I’m really excited about the additions of Greg Olson and Doug Marrone to our coaching staff,” Bradley said. “We always talk about wanting a great fit for our team and that also includes our coaching staff. Both Greg and Doug bring a wealth of experience and both possess the qualities that we want in our organization.  Greg is a veteran coach that is very detailed and will work hard to develop our players on the offensive side of the ball. Doug has a ton of experience coaching the offensive line and a strong background in developing players. I think he and Luke Butkus will feed off each other and make each other stronger.”

 

“I want to thank Shad Khan, David Caldwell and Gus Bradley for giving me this opportunity,” Olson said. “Gus and I spent a lot of time together over the last week as I learned about his vision and the culture he has established in Jacksonville.  It’s easy to see that everybody in the organization is moving in the same direction and committed to getting better.  We will work diligently as a staff to develop our players and play to their strengths.  I’m looking forward to getting started.”

 

“I’m really looking forward to joining the coaching staff in Jacksonville,” Marrone said.  “I had the opportunity to spend a couple days with Shad Khan, Gus Bradley and David Caldwell and was really impressed with the vision they have for this organization. Gus has done a great job of establishing the culture and developing players. I’m really looking forward to getting started.”

 

Olson, who has 28 years of coaching experience, was assistant head coach/quarterbacks coach for the Jaguars during the 2012 season.  His coaching experience includes 13 years in the NFL and 15 at the collegiate level.  His resume includes eight seasons as an offensive coordinator in the NFL with Detroit (2005), St. Louis (2006-07), Tampa Bay (2009-11) and Oakland (2013-14).

 

Olson spent the last two seasons with Oakland as offensive coordinator where he tutored three young quarterbacks in Terrelle Pryor, Matt McGloin and 2014 first-round draft pick Derek Carr. Olson played a key role in the development of Carr, who threw for 3,270 yards and 21 touchdowns, tops among rookie quarterbacks.  His 21 touchdown passes ranked 15th overall in the NFL.  The Raiders allowed only 28 sacks, the sixth-fewest in the NFL. The Raiders ranked 12th in the NFL in rushing (125.0) in 2013, sixth in yards per rush (4.6) and third with 18 rushes of 20-plus yards.  The Raiders became the first team since 1978 to have four different players record a 100-yard rushing game in the same season. Pryor set the single-season franchise record for a quarterback with 576 rushing yards and ranked second among NFL quarterbacks. 

 

Prior to joining the Jaguars, Olson served four seasons with the Buccaneers including the last three as offensive coordinator.  He spent the 2008 season as quarterbacks coach.  Olson was responsible for the development of quarterback Josh Freeman, the 17th overall pick in the 2009 draft.  Under Olson’s guidance Freeman threw for 8,898 yards and 51 touchdowns in his first three seasons as a starter.  In 2011 Freeman ranked eighth in the NFL with a 62.8 completion percentage and 13th with 3,592 passing yards. 

 

In Olson’s second season as offensive coordinator in 2010, Freeman ranked sixth in the NFL with a 95.9 passer rating while throwing for 3,451 yards, 25 touchdowns and only six interceptions, placing him ninth for touchdown-to-interception ratio in NFL single-season history. Olson helped guide the Buccaneers to one of their best offensive seasons in team history, setting franchise records for yards per play (5.61), average per rush (4.64 yards), average per pass play (7.21), passer rating (96.2) and fewest interceptions thrown (six). The Buccaneers also finished with the fourth-most points scored (341), third-most yards in total offense (5,362) and second-best third down percentage (42.2%) in a single season in team history.

 

The Buccaneers were the youngest team in the NFL in 2010 and wide receiver Mike Williams, a fourth-round draft pick, finished the year leading all rookie receivers in the league in every major receiving category while setting a single-season team record with 11 touchdown receptions. Running back LeGarrette Blount’s 1,007 rushing yards led all rookie running backs and he became just the second undrafted rookie running back in NFL history to finish with over 1,000 yards. It marked the first time since 1968 that a team had two different players lead all rookies in rushing and receiving yards.

 

Despite his late elevation to the coordinator position in 2009, Olson’s offense showed consistent growth around Freeman. The offense recorded three games of 400-plus yards of total offense, including 469 yards at Carolina for the fifth-best single-game performance in team history and the most by the team in over 20 years. Working closely with Olson, Freeman led all rookie quarterbacks in completion percentage (54.5) while setting Buccaneer rookie records for touchdown passes (10) and passing yards (1,855) despite starting in just nine games.

 

In his first season in Tampa Bay in 2008, Olson was part of an offense that ranked 14th in the NFL and ninth in the NFC in total offense. In addition, the Buccaneers featured the 11th-ranked passing offense in the NFL as Tampa Bay signal callers passed for 3,788 yards. The Buccaneers offense finished the season amassing 5,456 total yards, the highest total in team history, while scoring 361 points, the second-highest total in team annals. Under Olson’s tutelage, Jeff Garcia tied for second in the NFL for fewest interceptions (six), was ninth in the league and third in the NFC in completion percentage (64.9) and ninth in the NFL and fifth in the NFC in quarterback rating (90.2).

 

Prior to joining Tampa Bay Olson spent two seasons (2006-07) as offensive coordinator for the St. Louis Rams. In his first year with the Rams in 2006 he helped guide a high-powered offense that ranked sixth in the NFL in total offense (360.4 yards per game) and a passing offense that ranked third (247.6) in the NFC.

 

Under Olson’s direction, the 2006 Rams became just the fourth team in NFL history to produce a 4,000-yard passer (Marc Bulger), a 1,500-yard rusher (Steven Jackson) and two 1,000-yard receivers (Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce). Bulger, Jackson and Holt were all selected to the Pro Bowl. Bulger also posted career-highs in passing yards (4,301), passing touchdowns (24) and passing attempts (588) and completions (370) while ranking second in the NFL in interception percentage (1.4%). Jackson also had a career-year in 2006, leading the NFL in yards from scrimmage with 2,334, and he led all NFL running backs with 90 receptions and was fifth in the NFL in rushing yards with 1,528.

 

Prior to his time with the Rams, Olson spent one season as quarterbacks coach (2004) and one season as offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach (2005) for the Detroit Lions. In 2004 Olson took over play-calling duties for the Lions with three games remaining in the season and the Lions offense went on to average 403.6 total yards per game. In 2005 Olson was named offensive coordinator of the Lions in Week 11.

 

Olson entered the NFL as quarterbacks coach for the San Francisco 49ers in 2001 under head coach Steve Mariucci. In 2001 49ers quarterback Jeff Garcia threw for a career-high 32 touchdown passes while posting a career-best 94.8 passer rating and 62.7 completion percentage.  Following one season as tight ends/recruiting coordinator at Purdue, Olson spent one season as quarterbacks coach for the Chicago Bears in 2003. 

 

From 1997-2000, as quarterbacks coach at Purdue, Olson played a key role in the development of Pro Bowl and Super Bowl-winning quarterback Drew Brees. Under Olson, Brees was a Heisman Trophy finalist in 1999 and 2000 while winning the Maxwell Award as the nation’s most outstanding player in 2000. Brees finished his collegiate career as the Big Ten and Purdue’s all-time leader in passing yardage (11,792), touchdown passes (90), total yards (12,693), completion percentage (61.1%), completions (1,026) and attempts (1,678). He also ranked fourth in NCAA Division I-A history for total offense, completions and attempts upon his departure from Purdue. Under Olson, Brees had seven 400-yard passing games and 16 300-yard passing games. Brees earned Big Ten player of Year honors in 1998 and 2000 and All-Conference accolades for three straight years (1998-2000).

 

Olson began his coaching career in 1987 as a graduate assistant under the tutelage of head coaches Dennis Erickson (1987-88) and Mike Price (1989) at Washington State, where he earned his master’s degree in athletic administration.  He spent four seasons (1990-93) as an assistant at Central Washington University and two seasons at Idaho (1994-96).  At Central Washington Olson developed quarterback Jon Kitna, who went on to become an NFL starter at Seattle, Cincinnati and Detroit.  

 

A native of Richland, Washington, Olson played quarterback at Spokane Falls Junior College from 1981-82 and at Central Washington from 1983-84, earning his bachelor’s degree in education.  

 

A veteran of 23 years in coaching, Marrone has spent nine years in the NFL including the last two seasons as head coach of the Buffalo Bills. Marrone compiled a 15-17 mark at the Bills helm including a 9-7 mark in 2014, the most wins since 2004. He became only the third coach in Bills history to win 15 games in his first two seasons (Marv Levy, 19; Wade Phillips, 21). The Bills had six Pro Bowl selections during Marrone’s two seasons. 

 

The Bills had three different players with 60 receptions in 2014 for the first time in team history (Fred Jackson, 65; Sammy Watkins, 62; Robert Woods, 61) and the club produced six individual 100-yard receiving games.  Watkins set team rookie records for receptions and receiving yards (982). 

 

In 2013, Marrone was at the helm of an offensive unit that led the AFC and finished second in the NFL in rushing (144.2 avg.) while also leading the league with 95.5 pct. red zone efficiency mark.  Rookie quarterback E.J. Manuel started 10 games and set team rookie records for passing touchdowns (11) and completions (180). 

 

Prior to joining the Bills, Marrone spent four seasons (2009-12) as the head coach of his alma mater, Syracuse, where he led the program to a 21-17 record in the last three seasons.   He guided the Orange to an 8-5 record in 2010 and 2012 and both seasons culminated with a New Era Pinstripe Bowl Championship.  The Orange set several school records in 2012, including total yards (5,681), passing yards (3,619) and first downs (300).  

 

Marrone spent seven seasons in the NFL (2002-08) before becoming a collegiate head coach.  From 2006-08, Marrone served as the offensive coordinator for the New Orleans Saints. He directed an offense that led the NFL in total offense (391.5 avg. in 2006; 410.7 avg. in 2008) and passing yards per game (281.4 avg. in 2006; 311.1 in 2008) in two different seasons (2006-08).   The Saints’ offensive line held their opponents to the fewest sacks allowed in the NFL in 2006 (16) and tied for the fewest sacks in the NFL from 2006-08 with 52 despite leading the NFL with 1,868 passing attempts during that span.  Quarterback Drew Brees captured the NFL passing title in 2006 (4,418) and 2008 (5,069) and became just the second passer in NFL history to eclipse 5,000 passing yards in NFL history (Dan Marino, 1984).  

 

Prior to his arrival in New Orleans, the franchise had never had a 4,000-yard passer or registered more than 5,700 yards of offense. Brees eclipsed 4,000 passing yards and the offense posted more than 5,700 yards in each of Marrone’s three seasons with the Saints.  The Saints established a team record with an NFL-best 6,264 yards of offense in 2006, 5,780 in 2007 (4th in the NFL) and led the NFL again in 2008 with 6,571 yards. 

 

In his first season as an NFL offensive coordinator in 2006, left tackle Jammal Brown was voted to the All-Pro team and to the Pro Bowl in his first year at the position, while guard Jahri Evans was a unanimous All-Rookie selection.  The Saints ranked fourth in in the NFL in 2007 for total offense and set an NFL record for completions (440) and had franchise bests for passing first downs (222), attempts (652), touchdown passes (28) and completion percentage (67.5).  In 2008, the Saints led the NFL in total offense while setting team records for points (463), total yards (6,571), net passing yards (4,977), touchdowns (57) and first downs (354). 

 

Marrone was the offensive line coach of the New York Jets from 2002-05 and the team made two postseason appearances (2002, 2004) with him on the staff.  In 2004, the Jets produced the NFL’s third-best rushing offense (149.3 avg.) and Curtis Martin led the NFL with 1,697 rushing yards. 

 

Before arriving in New York, Marrone served as tight ends/tackles coach at the University of Tennessee in 2001.  He spent the 2000 season at the University of Georgia as offensive line coach after spending the previous five seasons (1995-99) at Georgia Tech where he was part of three consecutive bowl appearances.  He was director of football operations for the Yellow Jackets in 1995 before coaching the tight ends in 1996 and offensive line from 1997-99.

 

Marrone began his coaching career in 1992 at Cortland (N.Y.) state as the school’s tight ends coach before having stints as the offensive line coach at U.S. Coast Guard Academy (1993) and Northeastern University in 1994.   A native of Bronx, New York, Marrone was a sixth-round draft pick of the Los Angeles Raiders in 1986 and played two years in the NFL.  He played with the Miami in 1987 and with the Saints in 1989.  He also playing stints with Pittsburgh, Dallas and Minnesota before closing his career with the NFL Europe’s London Monarchs from 1991-92.  Marrone was a four-year letterman at Syracuse and was part of the 1987 undefeated team.  He graduated in 1991 with a degree in liberal arts.  He and his wife, Helen, have two daughters, Madeline and Anne, and a son, Mack.

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