While the Jacksonville Jaguars and the entire NFL may be checking for updates on a return to normalcy, Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone knows there’s another group even more antsy for teams to return to facilities.
“Well, one is that there is no one more eager than my family for us to return to work, that’s for sure.”
The Marrone family will have to wait a little longer, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Once NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell approved a return to facility offices for employees, organizations like the Jaguars were able to open their doors back to at least a small number of office workers on Tuesday.
Players and coaches are not yet allowed back however and that timeline is still being decided. Yahoo! Sports reported that the league is eyeing a return for coaches as early as next week with the possibility of mini-camps resuming in mid to late June.
As of now, Marrone isn’t committing to any dates or hard projections in what is a fluid situation. And the Jaguars will continue their virtual program for the time being.
“I know for sure we’re going to continue the virtual meetings that we’re doing. The memo that I received, it said, ‘Members of the Coaching Staff’ so I don’t know if we’re going to go in as a coaching staff as a phase. I don’t know about the players because I believe the NFLPA is involved with that.”
The President of the NFLPA, Cleveland Browns center J.C. Tretter, has said any return plan for players is currently hypothetical.
Whenever the Jaguars do return, Marrone feels they’ve prepared the staff and roster well which should help ease the transition during what will certainly be an insane time.
“We’re prepared either way, whether we come back as a staff or players come back in the building. We’re prepared for anything. So if anything, during this time we’ve had time to make sure we are prepared because the one thing, like I’ve told everyone, is that what we don’t want is all of a sudden in three days we’re going to be back, or in three days, you know, this is going to happen then all of a sudden it’s a scramble because then I don’t think you’re going to be fair to the players.”
As for the actual implementation, Marrone admits that they’re missing “the ability to be with our players” but the majority of what’s being done online right now is following much the same pace and style that it would in the facilities meeting rooms. As such, the install process largely hasn’t been hampered. Still, they are quickly nearing a point where the coaches will need to be on the field with the team.
"I think sometime in June that will be the case as far as veteran players, meaning that everything is put in place to make sure that all of these different things have been covered. All of the things that we have will be covered by what would have been the end of our minicamp. We have been trying to stay in phase with that plan.”
Marrone went on to explain that it will be the rookies who need to receive extra time following this postponed mini-camp, which would have been the case anyways, it will just now likely be later in the month and on a slightly changed pace than years before. He predicts they will need to spend an extra week or two, focusing on “more rookie development training in terms of the league and moving and things of that nature.”
“There is a point where it is, ‘Let’s go.’ I think that point will be in the next week or two. Like I said, we have everything installed. We are challenging them for technique. We are trying to get that done, but it is difficult to do. It is challenging, and we are always trying to find new ways to do it. We talk about it each week.”
The ability to install while scattered and see retention in players has been to the Microsoft Teams whiteboard application by both quarterback Gardner Minshew II and Marrone. While not equitable to on-field workouts, it has been a suitable replacement for the time being. It’s used primarily by players only and is how Minshew can put together offensive “drills” so to speak and run through plays with each offensive player drawing out their assignment based on the call. And for Marrone, it also helps with a larger picture that will come into effect in the locker room when all are back together.
“I like that because obviously you have our players, they’re talking to each other, they’re trading some chemistry, and I think it creates accountability amongst themselves. I think at every level accountability is created where I’m accountable to the organization, obviously, the league, ownership, the coaches and the players. I think the players, they’re going to be accountable working with the coaches, but they’re also going to be even more so accountable, in my opinion, when you’re working with each other. I think that’s the best way to create accountability is when the players are keeping themselves accountable.”
With the install now done and the players moving forward with their next step in the virtual mini-camp, Marrone and the staff are shifting their focus to having everything and everyone ready, so the moment the doors reopen, they won’t stumble through the door.
“My goal is to keep informing the players of the procedures and what we’re trying to get done so that when they do come back, their focus isn’t going to be on how we’re eating, how is the locker room, all the things that we have to do to keep each other safe. Their focus can be on what we have to do to win football games.”