Doug Marrone knows there's a lot of "outside noise."
He knows there's plenty of fans who feel he shouldn't be entering his fourth, full-year as head coach in Jacksonville.
"You could go ahead, you don't have to stutter -- just go ahead and say it," Marrone said to a reporter when the topic was broached on Tuesday morning. "We know we've fallen short the last couple of years. People are always like, 'well, how's it gonna change? What's gonna change?'
"And I think people on the outside will look at it and go, 'well they didn't make a lot of changes. So why should we expect anything different?'
"Everyone of us can change. We can change our attitude. We can do a better job. And when you get everyone pulling in the same direction, that's what changes your culture."
To paraphrase the line from the Academy Award-winning film Captain Phillips: Doug's the captain now.
With Executive Vice President Tom Coughlin no longer part of the organization, Jaguars owner Shad Khan has all but given Marrone the keys to his Ferrari -- or, rather, yacht. Marrone now reports directly to Khan and would appear to have much more of a say in player personnel (along with general manager Dave Caldwell, who also now reports directly to Khan). More importantly, the Jaguars' "organizational restructuring" was arranged as a means to create more collaborative efforts -- to truly make it "one team," from the Football Operations staff to the Marketing to the Security team.
It was evident at Tuesday's media session at the NFL Combine that that has energized the 55-year old head coach.
"I think the players as soon as they come in, they're going to feel it. And the only reason they wouldn't is because they're so focused on what they have to do -- in their job and winning. But I'm excited to see those guys and get 'em back and get back to work," Marrone said.
Speaking of players: Caldwell spoke to the Jaguars' efforts to remain under the salary cap, while also still seeking to re-sign Pro Bowl defensive end Yannick Ngakoue. Ngakoue's rookie contract came to a conclusion at the end of 2019. He is eligible to play under the Franchise Tag -- although has expressed a desire not to, in favor of a long-term deal. It is also reported that he is seeking to become the highest-paid defensive end in the league at $22 million per year.
Tuesday was the first day teams could designate the Franchise Tag, but have not done so on Ngakoue. Caldwell promised to keep everyone abreast of this situation.
"There's still a process that needs to be played," Caldwell said Tuesday. "I think you guys know how we feel about him. We want him here. We're gonna try to get him here and keep him here -- one way or another."
"Yes, you wanna see it get done. You wanna see that. And you wanna see him rewarded," Marrone addded. "But at the end of the day, the business part of it comes in. But hey, I love him. There's no doubt where I stand or where any of our coaches stand with him."
Caldwell also confirmed that the option on veteran defensive tackle Marcel Dareus and linebacker Jake Ryan have been declined, freeing up more than $25 million in cap space. Caldwell said the team is open to a reunion with their starting nose tackle the past three seasons.
Caldwell could neither confirm nor deny any other cuts -- including Pro Bowl cornerback A.J. Bouye -- but Marrone did have high praise for the Jaguars' depth at defensive back.
"I think we're gonna have a lot of competition at that position. A lot of those guys were able to play," he said, specifically citing the play of Parry Nickerson and Tre Herndon. "We've got some other guys we weren't able to see -- put 'em out there [on the game field] -- but I like 'em. I think we got some length, we got some speed."
Another (perhaps surprising, considering the position they were in a year ago) position of depth is at the quarterback position.
Neither Marrone nor Caldwell would commit to either Nick Foles or Gardner Minshew as their 2020 starter. But they did note they feel a lot more comfortable with their 2019 sixth-round draftee after his admirable rookie campaign.
"It did allow us to find that we do have a guy in Gardner that we feel like, if we need to, we can build around and win with," Caldwell said.
Ben McAdoo, the former Giants head coach, was added as the Jaguars' new Quarterbacks coach earlier this month to replace the departed Scott Milanovich. Marrone confirmed that that is the final change on his staff; everything else is set.
That means the return of highly-criticized defensive coordinator Todd Wash.
“I think when you look at what he has done as a defensive coordinator, over the majority of time, you are talking about a defense that probably ranks fifth in the league [over that span]," Marrone said. "I think a lot of time what happens in this profession is you get caught up in one year [where it is bad] and it’s, ‘Oh my god, we have to make a change because we went down.’ There were a lot of reasons. We had a lot of change, we had a lot turnover on the defensive side. We had injuries on that side of the football. All of those things come into play, but I have complete confidence in Coach Wash and the rest of the defensive staff. We just have to do a better job of coaching and a better job of getting them in position and a better job of playing, too.”
That would certainly silence a lot of that "outside noise."
Both Marrone and Caldwell will be in Indianapolis throughout the week taking a look at potential selections for the Jaguars in this April's draft. Jacksonville owns nine picks in the 2020 Draft, including two first-round selections (#9 and #20 overall).
For more on the Jaguars and the NFL Combine, visit First Coast News' Combine Central.