‘Saint Doug’ Marrone finally performed second miracle in Jacksonville

Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone used to call himself “Saint Doug” back when he was the head coach of the Buffalo Bills. His reasoning was the fact that it takes two miracles to be canonized into sainthood. The first miracle was winning at Syracuse. You can see how hard that is. 

The second miracle was supposedly to return the Bills to the playoffs. He got as far as leading the Bills to their first winning season since 2004 by going 9-7 with Kyle Orton at quarterback. But that hardly counts when the ninth win came against a New England Patriots team that was resting most of the starters in preparation for a Super Bowl run.

Instead that long coveted second miracle happened right before our eyes in Jacksonville, where he has taken a team that went 3-13 last season and brought them to the AFC Championship Game against the Patriots. 

Even though the result of that game was similar to the 1996 AFC title game, bolonga and cheese sandwiches have never looked so holy. A lunch menu item that Marrone references plenty during his press conferences, it’s a wonder how the AFC South produced two playoff opponents for the Patriots. One of which was full of (Mike) Mularkey and the other is lead by a head coach who is admittedly full of baloney. 

Marrone’s miracle robbed us all of the glorious rematch between New England and Pittsburgh after the Jaguars marched into Heinz Field and defeated the Steelers in the divisional round of the NFL Playoffs in a game that was further away than the 45-42 score suggested. It was a game in which Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin may have crossed the line between genius and clown when he spent the entire second half with spit on his beard. The ever-so focused, seemingly never blinking general couldn’t be bothered to clean himself up throughout the game.

Including the playoffs, the Jaguars won more games this season (12) than the last three seasons combined (11). That’s the entirety of quarterback Blake Bortles’ career. When Bortles was taken by the Jaguars with the third pick of the 2014 NFL Draft. After leading the University of Central Florida to a victory over Baylor in the Fiesta Bowl, many expected him to one day lead the Jaguars to this very position.

Yet we were all quickly disillusioned to his skills as a legit NFL quarterback, but somehow they made it to the same position that Tom Coughlin’s Jaguars teams of the 1990’s have reached. It comes at no surprise that Jacksonville has realized success as soon as returned to the franchise in 2017 as the executive vice president of football operations.

In a way, this year’s incarnation of the Jaguars was built similar to how Tom Coughlin’s New York Giants looked when they defeated the Patriots in Super Bowl XLII and XLVI. A superior pass rush is the secret to defeating Tom Brady. Which is why Coughlin’s first major offseason acquisition was defensive end Calais Campbell. 

After a successful nine-year career with the Arizona Cardinals, Campbell had a career high 14.5 sacks and along side him is 12 other sacks from second year defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, a third round draft pick out of Maryland. All of a sudden they look as stout of a duo as Justin Tuck and Jason Pierre Paul were for the Giants in 2011. 

But like how Coughlin had to change his coaching approach to win two Super Bowls, Marrone had to change as well. Veteran defensive tackle Marcela Dareus noticed a major difference in Marrone when he was coaching the Bills to now. In an October 2015 ESPN piece by Elizabeth Merrill, Dareus said Marrone was “anal-retentive and treats his players like children.” After being traded from the Bills to Jacksonville in the middle of this season, he told Sports Illustrated how much of a better listener Marrone has become and how he’s more open and up front, which was noticeable in his press conferences. 

Jaguar fans can expect more heavenly seasons in the near future.

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