Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone has assembled his coaching staff and is now in the evaluation process when it comes to free agency and the draft.
Speaking to the media in Indianapolis at the NFL Combine on Tuesday, Marrone briefly touched on his new coaching staff and his roster.
The point that he made very clear was that Blake Bortles is definitely his quarterback. However, he stopped himself short of calling Bortles the "starting" quarterback during the media session.
"I think I've already said this before, I see Blake as our quarterback," Marrone said. "And we're going to do everything we can to make him successful from the standpoint of schematics. Putting in a different scheme, which gives us a tough situation because when you're the interim head coach and you get hired as the head coach, you really don't have the extra time that the other coaches get as head coaches. We've got a lot of work ahead of us to get ourselves going."
As previously mentioned by Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin, the team has a strong desire to help Bortles with an improved running game. Marrone believes the Jaguars need to force a competition at running back before defining roles for the incumbent group.
"I think it's very difficult to get into a point of what's going on commitment-wise right now because we just got through evaluating the team," Marrone said. "Now we're into free agency, now we're into the draft, but again, we need better play from everyone. We want better play out of Chris [Ivory] and T.J. [Yeldon] and Corey Grant came on late at the end of the year. We have [impending free agent] Denard Robinson, so we have some guys back there that it should be a good competition for us."
Marrone filled his coaching staff with a mix of familiar faces and strong resumes. He said keeping offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett was largely based on their familiarity.
"At the end of the day, we made the decision of who we felt was best for us moving forward to help us win football games and that's pretty much how the process went," Marrone said. "Nathaniel Hackett, I obviously have a background with. I've been with him at two other places: Syracuse and Buffalo. I was with him as an assistant, worked for him - which was the first time - he worked for me at Syracuse, he worked for me at Buffalo and then all of sudden he's the coordinator and I'm the offensive line coach and I'm working for him."
Marrone was also effusive in his praise of defensive coordinator Todd Wash.
"I worked with Todd [for] two years - one year very closely - he was the defensive line coach when I was the offensive line coach, so we competed against each other every day," Marrone said. "I thought he did an outstanding job. To watch him, to be there through that process of him going to the coordinator spot, and just the attention to detail and what he brought to the room. And then also to build upon the system and do things that might be a little bit different, being able to take that, because there are things that we did differently during the year that helped us. I think that Todd has a great vision for where he wants to go, where we want to take that defense, so we're still implementing things right now for us to do a better job."
While new offensive line coach Pat Flaherty is known for his strong ties to Coughlin, the new Jaguars assistant has been associated with Marrone for quite some time.
"I go back a long way with [Flaherty]," Marrone said. "We've known each other forever. He's always been someone that's on my list - to say- for our offensive line coach. He's always had a job, so it was fortunate for me and maybe unfortunate for him [that he was let go in San Francisco]. At the end, I think it's going to be great we're together."
Marrone also touched on the team's secondary. He brought in new defensive backs coach Perry Fewell because of his reputation around the league.
Fewell previously served as the defensive coordinator for Coughlin with the New York Giants. He coached current Jaguars cornerback Prince Amukamara as a rookie.
While a reunion for Coughlin, Fewell and Amukamara seemingly makes sense on the surface, Marrone was quick to say that the team is looking to improve in all aspects this offseason. Amukamara is a free agent and is one of many talented cornerbacks on the market.
"He's out there, he's in the process right now of unrestricted free agency," Marrone said of Amukamara. "I think if anything else, we're looking to better our team. We didn't win a lot of football games so whichever way we can better our team, in a lot of different ways there's so much improvement in what we need. He's out there right now and we'll just see how this process takes us, where who is looking at him and we're talking to him and we'll see where it ends up."
Follow Mike Kaye on Twitter at @Mike_E_Kaye.
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