Myles Jack Explains Doug Marrone's Vision, Shares Excitement About Jaguars' Locker Room Shift
The Jacksonville Jaguars have swagger, are here to fight and are doing the opposite of tanking—making guys want to play in Duval.
That was the overarching message from linebacker Myles Jack on Wednesday. In his first meeting with local media for the 2020 NFL season, the fifth-year, former second round pick vehemently came to the defense of head coach Doug Marrone and recent moves made by the Jags, i.e. waiving Leonard Fournette, trading Jalen Ramsey, Yannick Ngakoue and Ronnie Harrison.
“Coach Marrone had a vision from the start and like, obviously, from the outside looking in it look like ‘okay well the Jags is just getting rid of everybody’ but Coach Marrone, he just truly had a vision and I think his vision was he just wanted, he wanted guys that were—man how can I say this without making a headline quote…he just knew the people that he wanted in the building, that he wanted and he had his own vision," Jack said.
“What he decided to go with it was what he decided to go with, and you know I truly feel like he's got the right plan. You know he's really trying to build this team atmosphere where, as long as we got each other and we can, you know I mean lock arms and stick together through the highs and lows and you guys have seen it.”
Jack is right, we have seen it. After getting punched in the mouth by the Indianapolis Colts on the opening drive, the Jags answered with a touchdown drive of their own. The defense gave up another touchdown to Philip Rivers and the Colts but held them to field goals on two more drives, while the Jags offense two drives of their own finishing in the endzone.
As a captain of the defense, Jack knows the defense needs to make more strides to be there for the offense. But after years of inept offense, knowing that quarterback Gardner Minshew and his receivers can seemingly bail out a bad defensive performance—as they did against the Colts and nearly did against the Tennessee Titans as well—has given the defense more confidence as well.
That is all coming together to create a team and locker room that is confident and trusting in one another…even if they’re still learning everyone’s names.
"Teams on the past that I've been on it, it kind of gets ugly once we get down. But this team, we just know that, okay, we’re a team. Like we can we can depend on the offense a little bit and the offense can eventually depend on the defense; we got to give them a little bit more. But they can depend on us. So it's really like, we get into halftime and everybody's just like ‘okay tighten up' because we've just don't want to disappoint not only the guys next to us on defense but the guys on offense, the guys on special teams.
“So you're seeing that confidence and guys like [rookies]. CJ Henderson, KC [K’Lavon Chaisson’s] getting comfortable back there. The running back [James Robinson]—I can't remember his name right now because he's a new guy—but he's doing his thing you know what I mean. The receiver we got, Laviska [Shenault], he's balling. Like everybody's kind of getting their swag because even though we lost last week [against Tennessee] I think we took that loss as a lesson.
“We’re really learning like okay, as long as we don't kick ourselves in the foot, get down early, we got an offense that can put up points. We have a defense that can stop the run finally. We just got to you know, tighten up on a couple of different avenues and we'll be fine. So the confidence and the swagger is coming. I just think we just had to overcome the initial, 'oh the Jags are taking to 32nd.’”
Jack and defensive lineman Abry Jones are the only two defensive players remaining from the 2017 AFC South Championship team. After the Jags front office released the bevy of players over the last calendar year, that thinking that the Jags were tanking dominated the offseason. And given that this is a club that has been to the playoffs only seven times during 25 years (and once in the last decade), Jack knows there was a perception about coming to Jacksonville.
That perception of course wasn’t helped by a NFLPA memo to players last season, warning them against signing with the Jaguars if given the choice, due to mismanagement by front office. The release of Tom Coughlin stemmed a lot of that bleeding. But a cultural shift was clearly needed. Now in his fifth year, Myles Jack is appointment himself a leader in making that happen.
“Growing up in the league and everything you see, you kind of see like what leadership works, what leadership doesn't and I think me kind of having to embrace that leadership role and show younger guys ‘hey man look if you just do this, do this, this and that, it'll go a lot more smoothly than if you try to do it your own way.’
“Like these coaches are putting effort, putting in hours to come up with a game plan and come up with a scheme so the least you can do is meet them halfway and execute it and do what they ask because at the end of the day you do what they scheme, it'll it'll typically go right, and then you'll play well, you get paid well and you can live, you know, you can enjoy this league.
"So that’s kind of the message that I've kind of been preaching to guys like ‘it's not us versus the coaches, it’s not us versus anybody. We're all in this together.’ And it may be days where a coach may be on your ass or giving you a hard time but at the end of the day we all want the same thing and I think that's the main thing that I've seen in this group, we all just want to win.
“So, nobody's taking anything personal and like you said the younger guys, they're starting to figure out like okay—because you know when you get drafted to the Jaguars and obviously like the aura around us was, we’re a bad team, this, that and the third. But I think younger guys are starting to see like ‘okay we're not a bad team.’ And even as as older guys we like, we knew we weren't a bad team but once we got in those situations where we had to battle and we saw how we fought, we realized that we're really good team and the younger guys are starting to see it.”
All of this comes together, according to Jack, to create an atmosphere that players want to be in, coaches can help create success in and fans can’t help but get excited about.
“We knew we had a good team all along we just had to go out there and do it and now we kind of got that swagger like okay we're ready to go, we're ready to play so I'm just uber excited for this season and like the games and even tomorrow, it’s gonna be fun. It’s just good to show people, like, we’re not tanking, we’re not turning the other cheek, laying down. We’re here to fight and we trying to go to the playoffs. So 1-1 in the division, it’s a great spot to be.
“It's really like a family environment that [Marrone’s] built. And I think you guys can see that on Sunday, the way we play and just the effort and even when things go bad, we're still, we're still in it, we're still throwing punches and still fighting so it’s really cool. And I think his vision is coming to fruition and you guys can kind of see it. So, it's really gonna be special.”