By: Hays Carlyon
There was one line in Jaguars coach Doug Marrone’s opening training camp press conference on Thursday that stood out to me.
Marrone was asked if he can yell at the players during virtual meetings.
“I’m not that much of a yeller,” Marrone said.
The statement spoke to Marrone’s evolution.
Of course, Marrone was a yeller. He took pride in being an old-school, disciplinarian coach. There was a reason he looked up to Tom Coughlin before having to actually work under him.
I remember an instance early in the 2017 training camp, Marrone’s first as head coach. I was talking with defensive end Dante Fowler after practice in a team-approved interview. We were inside a hallway of the stadium at least 50 feet away from the path the players take into the locker room so the audio wouldn’t be cluttered with background noise.
Marrone stomped over to us and handed Fowler the recovery shake he was supposed to drink after practice. Fowler had walked past it, leaving it on the cart. The look on Marrone’s face was clear. He was livid. Fowler remorsefully looked down to the ground like a child being scolded and took the shake. We then continued the interview.
My thought was, imagine how mad this guy gets if this is how he reacts to a shake not being consumed by a guy that has no bad weight on his frame.
Honestly, it was refreshing. The Jaguars needed a kick in the pants after the player-friendly ways of failed coach Gus Bradley, who was 14-48 from 2013-16.
But times change and my how they’ve changed in 2020.
The last thing this group of players need now during a pandemic is a harsh dictator.
There is enough anxiety in their lives. They don’t need a taskmaster. They need a teacher.
Marrone is wise to recognize this.
He was already moving more to the player’s side. He had to by necessity over the last two years.
Coughlin’s disastrous approach as executive, which was to be a brutish curmudgeon, undermined Marrone. That forced Marrone to become more of a player’s coach to keep a toxic situation from further disintegrating.
Coughlin has since been fired. Marrone can now coach the Jaguars without Coughlin’s influence.
I wondered how he would handle it. Marrone showed his hand on Thursday.
The new-school Marrone is here to stay. He’s smart not to try to switch back. Even in a normal season, that would jeopardize his credibility.
However, with coronavirus sure to hover over this season each day, Marrone is taking the right approach.
Be a teacher. Help the players get better. Be a mentor, not a warden.
Don’t compound the anxiety the players already feel. That’s ironically straight out of Bradley’s coaching philosophy.
It’s the right approach in the most frightening football season we’ve ever seen.
(You can email Hays at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @HaysCarlyon)