Jaguars' HC Doug Marrone Quotes 7.30.20
COURTESY OF JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS MEDIA RELATIONS DEPARTMENT
(Opening statement) "First of all, I hope everyone is doing well during these challenging times. Obviously, this is a very unique situation. As a coach, you want to get back on the field and that's where we are now and I'm coming off the field from a walk-thru period. Again, the challenge of safety first is obviously at its utmost. And I think when people think of training camp or preseason, I think we can all paint a picture of what we expect and what we look to get out of the players and the coaches and the people around. I think this is a very unique year, so I don't really put it under that category of training camp and preseason because we are in a ramp-up period now and it's a little bit different. I think people like to compare it to other situations of the lockouts or whatever it may be. It was very difficult, obviously, for players to find a place where they can be safe and where they can work out. I think the league and the PA did great and went to great extents to try to get equipment to players and we've done that also here. In the same sense, it is different. You have to be, obviously, in great physical shape to play this game. I think there's going to be a lot of challenges for us. I think there will be a lot of anxiety in different areas. It's hard to pinpoint what's going to come up next. You're really just doing the best job you can really at the time. I feel really comfortable about the protocols. When we're in the building, you can see here I have a tracker on me that has a couple different ways to wear it, like around your neck like I do. You can wear it in a wristband, you can wear it in a watch setting. One of the things is that you can see that it just flashed blue which means that I am in good physical distance from everyone that's involved. When it flashes red, then I know I'm too close to someone and so I can take two or three steps back until it flashes blue. The meetings are difficult. The meetings are like this, kind of like how we are doing right here. I've got the players and we're keeping the distances and maximizing the distance between our players as much as we can, and we do. Again, I think the protocols that have been put in place by the PA and NFL that are up to date that are constantly being updated for the better for safety reasons puts me in a lesser area of risk. I think there's a risk for everyone, we all understand that, and I know that we have opt-outs. No one has talked to me personally about their thoughts on that or considering that. That's not to say that that can't change. That could change over the next couple of days. We been having a COVID meeting with our players as they come in, meaning when our rookies came in we made it available for them and their families, coaches and their families, on the phone with our doctors to ask questions to get a lot of information, so that we could get it directly from them. We'll be doing the same thing tonight with our veteran players coming in. I'm sure that's going to give me a heads up of what some of the concerns are coming into this building because I have not heard any so far."
(On what changes are being made to the practice schedule due to the elimination of preseason games) "I think there are so many changes that have taken place as far as just your normal day. Normal is really out of the picture with the things that we are doing. As far as coming in with the testing procedures, arrows down the hallways, signs down the hallways, split locker rooms, split weight rooms, different areas just to create that space. Meetings where you are not in front of anyone in a large group, that's just something that's not the norm. I think that I feel very fortunate that we had the meetings in the past before, where I think that's taken the anxiety out of it and I think we've gotten a lot out of that. I think on the field, how we bring players on the field, and you find things out. And what I mean by that is that you are constantly learning. Everyone's been part of a team before. After you're done as a team with a function what do you usually do? You usually come together and get a break. All of a sudden, wait a minute, let's not do that right now. So, these are things that are starting to come out and try to do it a better way. So, from really A to Z, you can't say everything's the same. Physical distancing when it comes down to eating, physical distancing in coaches' meetings and right now we are actually handling all of our coaches meetings interactive. I call it interactive to try to label it to keep track of the type of meeting. Interactive is where they are in the building, yet we are doing everything with the web cams. And then virtual is when they are out of the building, when we are meeting with them virtually outside of the building. Things like that we're coming up with. Then obviously all of the return to the facilities protocols, return to practice protocols with all of the testing that needs to be done. All of these things are different for us. And then for me it's obviously, I don't want to say an advantage, because everyone knows, but being in college and going through something like this. When I knew there was talk about possibly not playing preseason games, I wound up breaking out the stuff that I did in college and looked at it and I kind of reminded myself of how I've done it personally before. Then for me it's very easy to manage, get in those situations, getting that type of experience, getting that type of live action. I think I feel very comfortable as far as that part without playing the preseason games."
(On if the team is at full strength besides for players on the COVID List) "Yes. Except for Yannick."
(On if he has had any conversations with Yannick Ngakoue) "I have not, no. Like I said before, he is one player I know who is always ready. He's a player that is always ready and always taking care of himself. Like I said before, I am going to reiterate it again that as a coach you'd love for that perfect harmony between management and the players as far as the business end of things, and I think when you look at it both sides have rights from a management side to a player side. I think as a coach you're always looking for a solution that you can be part of to help bring parties together. [General Manager] Dave Caldwell would probably be able to better speak on where everything is at as far as talks or whether they have talked or not because with all of the stuff that we've had and the change, you've got to remember now, we didn't receive a lot of this information or the deal wasn't struck with the PA until really close to the time. The amount of research, the amount of reading, the amount of questions that come up, really the majority of my time has been with the protocols and keeping players safe and being able to see what the best way is to ramp this thing up."
(On if having virtual meetings is unnerving as opposed to having the meetings in person and if the players are receiving what he is telling them through a screen) "That's something that came up early in this process of doing it. [Senior Director of Football Technology and Facilities] Mike Perkins and our video staff, we were on that early on even though we aren't going to be occupying the same space, it's obviously much easier to be able to see where everybody is and be able to look at that. Mike and the video staff really did a great job of putting in these web cams where I can actually see everyone. I have two monitors, or getting a second one put in now. When we get to the full roster I'll be able to see everyone in a room and they can see me. That's something that I would chalk up to a learning experience of what's comfortable and what's uncomfortable, what do you think can really help us. We started on that very early in the process knowing that it was probably going to carry on to the season, so that is how we have handled that. Actually, I feel a whole lot more comfortable, maybe it's because I'm sitting down, like I told Tad, I like to do these meetings sitting down. I feel really comfortable and it's interactive. I can put schedules up, put things on PowerPoints, I can do a lot of things. They've really done a good job of getting us ready, preparing us, where taking less of that anxiety that we would have in that situation, out of it."
(On if he can yell at the team if he needs to) "Yeah, I'm not that much of a yeller."
(On if the coaching staff worked more on larger projects due to having more time to work on stuff without players this offseason) "It has led to a larger conversation about different things – technique, scheme and things of that nature. We are keeping ourselves busy there. When I look [at us being] behind, it's not from really the mental aspect of it as far as college classroom teaching, which I think everyone can absorb and obviously answer the questions that you have on tests and everything. Where I think we have to do a good job, and this goes back to my own experience, a lot of times you get a little bit of section work, you get this technique stuff. It is really going to be being behind on the technique aspect of it. We have really been trying to do a good job of making sure they visualize what we are looking for even though we have not been with them. Those are some of the things we are emphasizing now that we feel we are behind on. The communication among each other when you are out there … You all know this game is not as easy as it may seem. There is a lot of communication that goes on. We are looking at that now, trying to emphasize where we are with that and at the same point, making sure that we are doing everything correctly to build us up. That is why it is difficult to answer questions like, where is this guy? Where is that guy? We are not even going to be in pads for a long period of time and we have two days of really non-pads, an OTA-type of schedule as far as practice. We're excited. Right now I'm excited. The veterans are not in the building yet, I have not seen them. I had good conversations with them over the summer making sure everybody was safe and if there is anything we can do. I would say in my past, 99 percent of the rookies will come in here and you really do not have to worry about them being in shape. They want to make a team. I told this to the young guys, I said if you look at our league and the history of our league, this is probably going to be one of the more challenging times for a young player to make a football team. One is because of opportunities and the other is a young football player that may have some better players ahead of him, but not being able to play preseason games to get on film and maybe get picked up by another team. I think the challenges for these young guys are much greater than they have been in the past."
(On how big of an influence some distractions from previous years on the business side and on the field have had on winning games) "I would say it's a balance. I would say with different situations I might think it's bigger than, maybe, I think some on the outside think and I think sometimes on the outside they might think it's bigger than what we really feel on the inside, and I think that's the challenge of communicating that to everyone. But the first part of the question, I think that communication is really the key in any aspect of something that's going on. Whether it's a personal issue that's going on on the outside that's going to affect how you play, whether it's coach/player, player/coach, player/management, all the situations you can think of is, obviously, going to take something away. Now how big of a bite it is, how much is taken away, you know, a lot of it depends on that individual. I've seen very few, but I have seen where players have been able to block a lot of things out when they've stepped in the building and blocked that stuff out and were able to function and get better and do all the things that they needed to do for themselves and then get outside and have all the stuff eat away at them. I think that the league is taking great strides in making sure that there is support available to them outside of just the coaching staff and player development. I mean, really truly some professional help because one of the things you look at as a coach is, 'Okay what can come up? What can be one of those things that cause a lack of focus or anxiety that's really going to hurt the player and the team?' And you try to get ahead of those things. Well I think now it's difficult because, obviously, the risk involved with this pandemic. I think that there's a lot of self-discipline involved, there's a lot of relying on your teammates, and that's self-discipline. Unfortunately for me, fortunately maybe for my wife, I've really been staying away from my wife and children because they have a group of people that go on and that's just a responsibility that we all have to each other to not bring this virus into the building and not to really spread it; there's a lot going on I think as we go. You expect a lot of anxiety about a lot of different things because there is so much change. You always hear coaches talking about getting into a routine and a certain type of structure, but I've wanted to make sure that I talk to our players initially before they come into the building, which I have with the young guys is that this is going to be different, there are going to be a lot of changes and I think the way the schedule set up, if it works with the rookies like it did with the veterans where, as coaches you want to come in and it's always the same thing you hear, 'We gotta set the tempo, we gotta get these guys going,' all this stuff and you've been away for a while and you want to do that, but I told the staff it's time for us to take a step back, it's time for us to focus on the safety protocols first and foremost so we can get everyone used to, conditioned, to what's going on here not only for themselves but for the safety of all those around them. To answer your question, I think that stuff always does take away because there's going to be some guys in the locker room that ignore things and some guys that can't. Everyone handles that stuff differently."
(On how many times he's had rookies on the field so far) "Four times."
(On the progress he's seen from C.J. Henderson and K'Lavon Chaisson) "I don't want to be an ass and give a smartass answer, but they look good, they can walk, I mean we're just walking through so it's hard. But we're in these walk-throughs and a lot of times as a coach you get there and you talk to the team and give the expectation and a lot of it's about effort and competitiveness and those are the things that you talk about. For this time, I talked about how do you prepare, how do you ask questions, how are you communicating? Then when we are on the field, how do you take to the coaching and things like that, so really those players and everyone else have really been doing everything that you'd like done. For me, the only anxiety I have right now is that if our next group of players come in and they're like this group of players in here, I think that's going to be pretty awesome. But, if the next group of players come in with a while different set of things then we're going to have to communicate and solve those issues as we go forward. All the guys we brought in really came into play with the options that we had, whether we go from 90 to 80. Where things are negative, or that people may not look at positive in the building, offices with no windows and things like that, and one thing that the stadium had provided us was four locker rooms. We can split the stadium up. We have different ways, logistically, we can keep everybody safe and still stay at 90 and get a good look at these guys because going through the extra work, the extra cleaning to give someone an opportunity to make the team for us. I'm not saying I don't know, there may be a time if the team was different, that 80 might've worked for me, but we're able to stay at the 90 and get that done so we're going to try to keep that going until we're able to make a decision and we really can't make a decision, probably, until we go into phase two with the young guys which will probably be a couple days as the veterans are walking through. I think we have about three days of that."
(On splitting practices and it's effect on the coaching staff) "It's really not. The way we have it set up with interactive meetings, with virtual meetings keeping the two groups apart, we feel really comfortable. Logistically, when you look at it Tyler Wolf has done an outstanding job figuring all of that out with Scott Trulock and everything that has to do with the protocols and talking to the league. So I feel really comfortable with that as far as us coaches, we're going to be able to accomplish everything we want because we're still at a point where it's not like your veteran players are out there practicing full-go and your young guys are out there practicing full-go and now you have to double-dip and be on a field all day long. There's two phases to it and the veterans are going to be in a walk-through phase and then we're going to convert a walk-through phase for the rookies into a phase two, so right then and there for us we'll have meetings for them but we're going to convert that so basically we'll be doing the same thing that we've been doing for a couple days. We've just converted the walk-through for the rookies into a phase two and the only logistics that it has to be is that if you did have a walk-through on the field, it has to be 90 minutes apart. That's why we lose a walk-through with the young guys, but we would've walked through enough to get what we want out of them and maximize the phase two area of it and get that done."
(On any extra precautions taken for at-risk coaches) "I talked to everyone about it. I talk to the young guys coming in tonight and we'll mention it to our guys. To stand up here and say that there's no risk, that's not true. We all have to take risks. So I told the coaches and I told the players that whatever you decide, if you decide to opt out, we respect that decision totally. Same goes for the coaches and what they want to do. At any time you feel uncomfortable, I told the coaches, just tell me and we'll do what we can do. Right now, everyone's doing what they're supposed to do."
(On any conversations about having a QB on the roster quarantined during the season) "We [the coaches] have had conversations. I think the way that I'm approaching it is, we don't have to make that decision now. We talked about the pluses and minuses, the development, and who that player might be. There's a lot of things that go into it. So as we get kind of closer to the part where we feel that player would need to be quarantined, I think that conversation will come up again and we'll see where we are with the team then."
(On how difficult it'll be for undrafted and late-round draft picks to make a difference with no preseason) "That's one of the challenges for this group coming in. I think that there's a lot of guys we spent a lot of time on whether it be scouts and coaches, and that's why when it came down to we could get to 80 and logistically that makes things easier at least for our club. I just didn't think we could do that. We've had success before, and I think you go around the league and there's a lot of success with it. So I think trying to get a good evaluation of the 90 to the 80 is going to be important. Once you get to the 80, you'll be able to put them into situations to see if they're going to be able to help you or not. I told them it might not be as many reps if you had joint practices and things of that nature where you're getting a lot of those reps and then you get reps in the preseason game. It's not going to be necessarily that way, but I do think that you're going to have to really spend a little bit more time about the personnel issues earlier than you would; rather than just seeing where we go let's see how this works out. My philosophy has always been to coach them like they're going to start for you then you put them out on the field and see which ones earn it."
(On any adjustments being made to the defensive plans with or without Yannick Ngakoue) "I think when we look at the draft and we look at free agency, we tried to, as a coach, prepare for any situation. So I think we're prepared, obviously for the first one, we're prepared for every different scenario that can possibly occur. We feel we're prepared for it and we're ready for whatever action happens, we'll be able to move on. But, it's not anything where you would want to take that risk of assuming that something's going to happen and you back yourself into a corner where now you're always adjusting. It's much easier with the plans that we have now with whatever happens; it's built in and there's really no adjustment if it goes the other way."
(Ending statement) "I just want to say, I talked to the coaches about this too, about just having some type of patience of what's happening and when [Director of Public Relations] Tad Dickman and I got together with the schedule, I said let's keep a little bit structured because these schedules may change as we go through this. Know that if something comes up and needs to be addressed, go to Tad and we'll work that out. I don't have any issue with that. I feel very comfortable and I think as a credit to the guys on this call, I feel very comfortable that at the last minute I don't need to be schooled up, prepped up or need two days to be out here talking, so if something comes up outside that, if Tad Dickman thinks it's important we'll be out in front of it and I'll be out here and if it's something you guys collectively think of I'm more than happy to do it."