Jaguars keep Marrone, Caldwell despite another losing season

Sports

Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone directs his players against the Indianapolis Colts during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — The Jacksonville Jaguars are retaining coach Doug Marrone and general manager Dave Caldwell despite consecutive losing seasons.

Owner Shad Khan made the announcement Tuesday after “positive meetings” with Marrone, Caldwell, their staffs and several players.

“This is not the time to consider an overhaul of our organization,” Khan said.

Marrone and Caldwell have two years remaining on their contracts, and Khan made it clear that expectations are high for 2020.

Jacksonville has two first-round draft picks, Nos. 9 and 20 overall, to help rebuild a roster that lacks talent and depth. Rookies Gardner Minshew, Josh Allen and Jawaan Taylor are a few of the building blocks in place for Marrone and Caldwell moving forward.

But there are plenty of holes, especially if the Jaguars part ways with several expensive veterans to create salary cap space.

Khan fired top executive Tom Coughlin two weeks ago, identifying the old-school coach’s overbearing ways as the main problem. Coughlin’s heavy-handed approach upset players, leading to cornerback Jalen Ramsey forcing his trade to the Los Angeles Rams, as well as some assistants. Coughlin had difficulty making the transition from the sideline to the front office.

Coughlin’s position as executive vice president of football operations will not be filled. Marrone and Caldwell will report directly to Khan.

“I want to see what we produce under a new organizational structure in 2020,” Khan said. “Goals have been established. Accountability will be paramount.”

Jacksonville scheduled a news conference later Tuesday with Marrone and Caldwell.

Khan expressed his disappointment with the team’s 6-10 season. Jacksonville was 4-4 and in the hunt in the AFC South before losing five straight and falling out of playoff contention. The Jags responded by losing all five by at least 17 points.

Marrone is 23-28 in three seasons, including 11-21 following a trip to the 2017 AFC title game. Marrone has expressed his frustration with the roster, much of which Coughlin put together, but knows there are enough pieces in place to be more competitive. Jacksonville lost seven games by double digits this season.

The slide began in the offseason. The Jaguars had to cut several good players, including defensive tackle Malik Jackson and safety Tashaun Gipson, after botching the quarterback position again. Caldwell chose Blake Bortles with the third overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft, and even though the quarterback showed more struggles than strides, Caldwell and Coughlin gave him a three-year extension worth $54 million.

Jacksonville released Bortles in March, leaving the team with a $16.5 million dead-money hit on the 2019 salary cap, and signed former Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles to a four-year, $88 million deal.

Foles broke his left collarbone in the opener, missed eight games and was benched in his third game back. Minshew was one of several bright spots, going 6-6 in 12 starts and becoming just the 14th rookie in NFL history — and first drafted after the fourth round — to throw at least 20 touchdowns passes.

But the Jaguars have significant holes at tight end, receiver, linebacker, safety and defensive tackle.

___

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