Jaguars HC Doug Marrone, GM Dave Caldwell to Return in 2020 Despite Firing Buzz

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistDecember 31, 2019

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 22: Head coach Doug Marrone of the Jacksonville Jaguars looks on prior to a game against the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on December 22, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)
Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

In a surprise move, the Jacksonville Jaguars have decided to retain head coach Doug Marrone and general manager Dave Caldwell for the 2020 season.     

The team officially announced its decision Tuesday (via Ian Rapoport of NFL Network):

Ian Rapoport @RapSheet

A statement from owner Shad Khan: The Jaguars staff is back https://t.co/j4w4urGXkh

Prior to Marrone's dismissal, there were conflicting stories about whether or not he would return in 2020. 

ESPN's Dianna Russini reported Saturday that Marrone had been informed he wouldn't be retained following Sunday's regular-season finale against the Indianapolis Colts

Jaguars co-owner Tony Khan denied that report on Twitter:

Tony Khan @TonyKhan

@ByKimberleyA On the other hand, imagine reading that 100% false report stating you’d been informed that you’d been fired when in fact nobody had ever told you that?

Jacksonville seemed like it was primed for a complete organizational overhaul in the wake of some controversy that came about late in the 2019 season. 

Tom Coughlin was fired as vice president of football operations Dec. 18. That decision came two days after an arbitrator ruled in favor of the NFL Players Association about a grievance filed regarding the Jaguars requiring injured players to rehab and see doctors at the team facilities during the offseason. 

Tom Pelissero @TomPelissero

The NFLPA has informed players that an arbitrator ruled in the union’s favor in a grievance against the #Jaguars over requiring injured players to rehab and see doctors at the team facility during the offseason. Full text of the NFLPA email below: https://t.co/lPLxWEej8J

There's no indication Marrone was involved in that process, so it was up to Jaguars ownership and Caldwell to decide if the 55-year-old's performance warranted returning for another season. 

Marrone took over the Jaguars on an interim basis late in the 2016 season when Gus Bradley was fired. The 55-year-old went 1-1 to finish the season and earned the permanent job in January 2017. 

Jacksonville immediately took off under Marrone's leadership. He went 10-6 in his first season to win the AFC South to lead the Jaguars to the playoffs for the first time since 2007. The Jaguars also reached the conference title game for the first time since 1999 before losing to the New England Patriots

A strong defensive foundation seemed like it would keep the Jaguars in playoff contention for the foreseeable future, but things unraveled quickly because of regression on that side of the ball and instability at quarterback. 

Jacksonville finished 21st in scoring defense this season, its lowest ranking since 2016 (25th).

Amid their struggles on the field, this season was also noteworthy for the Jags because star cornerback Jalen Ramsey, who was a first-round pick in 2016, grew frustrated with the organization and requested a trade. He was eventually dealt to the Los Angeles Rams in October for two first-round draft picks and a fourth-rounder in 2021. 

Nick Foles was given a four-year contract last offseason to upgrade the Jaguars' quarterback situation. He broke his collarbone in Week 1 against the Kansas City Chiefs, missed eight games and ultimately got benched in favor of rookie Gardner Minshew II. 

The Jaguars have finished last in the AFC South in each of the past two seasons with a combined 11-21 record. 

Marrone has compiled a 22-28 overall record during his tenure in Jacksonville. His relationship with Minshew, who showed some promise with 3,271 yards and 21 touchdowns, has given the team something to build off of in 2020.