Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone's coaching staff will feature a few new faces in 2020, including two former players in Tony Gilbert and Denard Robinson. And in those two new additions, Marrone sees potentially immense value being added to the team.
Gilbert, a former linebacker himself, will be the team's new assistant linebackers coach, overseeing the unit with linebackers coach Mark Collins. The long-time NFL veteran, who played for Jacksonville from 2003-2006, has coached in the college ranks during stops at Georgia, Auburn, East Mississippi Community College, Georgia Military College, John Milledge Academy, North Carolina and UCF.
The hiring of Gilbert was something that has actually been in the process of taking place since the 2019 season ended, Marrone revealed Friday after the hires were announced. The timing got pushed back some due to COVID-19 halting the NFL calendar, but Gilbert is now officially once again part of the Jaguars organization and is reunited with Marrone, who was on the Georgia Bulldogs coaching staff at the same time of Gilbert's collegiate tenure.
"Tony's hire was in the works early on after the season. So Tony Gilbert is a guy that I was fortunate enough to have been around him," Marrone said Friday. "I wouldn't say that I knew him particularly well, I was the offensive line coach at Georgia. He was on the defensive side. But you know, I remember a lot of the players and we've had lot of good players on that side and really on our team. I just remember how much respect I had for Tony as a hard worker and, you know, intelligent and team and leadership and I just, you know, I think there's a lot of players that I'm around that I don't get to know on a real personal level but I appreciate."
Marrone said he has been tracking Gilbert "awhile" as he continued to rise in the coaching ranks. Marrone said he is a believer in the value of one working their way up and earning their worth as they ascend in their profession. To him, Gilbert perfectly encapsulates this.
"He started out in junior college and was able to get on at UCF and help them with the linebackers. So you know, I really felt really good about getting Tony on board here and he's excited to come and he's been great," Marrone said. "So this has been going on, you know, for a while we just had a hold off on some things because of, obviously, the pandemic, we were out of the office and, you know, for lack of a better term, we're just kind of, you know, hitting the brakes on everything and just to see where everything was going."
As for Robinson, he will be working on the offensive side as an offensive quality control coach. The Jaguars said he will assist offensive coordinator Jay Gruden and the coaching staff in all areas of practice and game preparation. He spent four years as a running back for the team from 2013-2016 after being selected in the fifth round of general manager Dave Caldwell's first draft class in 2013.
Robinson would end up playing four seasons for Jacksonville, appearing in 55 games and starting in 13 over the course of his tenure. The former college quarterback recorded 263 carries for 1,058 yards (4.0 yards per carry) and five touchdowns, along with 47 catches and 310 receiving yards during his career. After spending time at quarterback, running back, and even wide receiver during his playing career, Marrone thinks Robinson can offer valuable insight to the rest of the team.
"And then with Denard, the NFL ownership, you know, it started a fellowship, where they wanted to bring in people on the offensive side of the ball. And Denard was the same thing. I mean, he went out and he went here locally at [Jacksonville University]," Marrone said.
"I really think that he has a great skill set as far as knowledge of a guy that you know, has played quarterback, running back, receiver, I mean, he can do a lot of different things, his knowledge of those positions, and, you know, his ability to learn and willing to learn and keep that going up it really, you know, put him in a position, you know, of leadership down the road. So, you know, we were, we feel really fortunate, you know, to have him."
Joining Gilbert and Robinson is a third former player on the staff in Keenan McCardell, the current wide receivers coach. McCardell played for Jacksonville from 1996-2001 and had been the team's receivers coach since 2017. Marrone's staff has continued to adapt over the last several years, and Gilbert and Robinson are two young and recent examples.