Item: He may have angered Syracuse fans by bolting for the NFL’s Buffalo Bills in 2013 and suddenly halting a successful rebuild of the program, but there’s no doubt that ex-SU offensive lineman Doug Marrone, guiding the AFC South Division’s first place Jacksonville Jaguars, can coach at the sport’s highest level.
As conservative as he seems on the sidelines, a football coach who is loathe taking huge risks, Doug Marrone, the fifth coach in the history of the Jaguars franchise, is a pretty good gambler.
How else to explain his late 2014 decision to opt out of his contract with the Bills as new ownership was about to take over, triggering an automatic $4 million dollar kicker to his bank account, even if it meant that he might not be an NFL head coach the next season?
Marrone did interview for the Jets top job but didn’t sync with ownership, ending up taking one step back in 2015 being named the Jaguars assistant head coach offense-offensive line coach, before replacing Gus Bradley on an interim basis for the final two games of the 2016 season, and having the interim label dropped last January, a move that now looks brilliant by Jacksonville’s flamboyant owner Shahid Khan.
At 9-4 with a huge win at Pittsburgh in October in their pocket, and second overall in the NFL in team defense, the Jags host 4-9 Houston Sunday, next play at 3-10 San Francisco, and finish with a huge game at second place Tennessee (8-5), eyeing not only the division title and the franchise’s first postseason appearance since 2007, but the No. 3 seed (or higher) in the AFC and a home playoff game (or even a bye) the first weekend of January.