As Profootballtalk.com framed it, "What a difference 72 hours makes."
Three days after ESPN reported that the Jaguars had informed coach Doug Marrone that he will be fired after Sunday’s regular-season finale against the Colts, the Jaguars have announced that Marrone will return for 2020.
The Jaguars also announced that G.M. Dave Caldwell will return for another year.
Jaguars owner Shad Khan in a statement on Tuesday said he met with Caldwell, Marrone and their staffs in recent days, and that he had meetings with players on Monday -- a day after a 38-20 victory over the Indianapolis Colts in the 2019 regular-season finale.
He emphasized that the meetings – and not Sunday’s results – shaped his decision.
Khan also emphasized in the statement that the Executive Vice President of Football Operations role – which former Jaguars’ head coach Tom Coughlin held until his dismissal on December 18 – will not be filled this season. Khan said Marrone and Caldwell will report directly to him, as they have done on an interim basis since Coughlin’s dismissal.
Khan’s statement reads as follows:
“I have met on several occasions over the past few days with Dave Caldwell, Doug Marrone and their staffs to fully understand their plans to reverse our course and compete for a postseason berth in 2020. In addition, I held numerous one-on-one meetings with players on Monday and thoroughly appreciated their candor and thoughtful views – some expected, some not – on the season behind us and where we go from here.
“While our discussions will remain confidential, the decision I am making to keep our staff intact for 2020 has nothing to do with our victory on Sunday and everything to do with my positive meetings with Dave, Doug, the coordinators and our players, as well as my belief that this is not the time to consider an overhaul of our organization.
“The 2019 season was unacceptable and I’ve made my dissatisfaction clear. While many unusual circumstances influenced our season, none can fully explain or defend our second-half collapse with first place in the division within reach on Week 9. At the same time, there were positive developments and contributions that should not be overlooked.
“We came out of our AFC Championship Game season of 2017 by making a four-year commitment to the collective leadership of our football operations. Only two seasons have passed and one change from that leadership team has already been made. I want to see what we produce under a new organizational structure in 2020. Goals have been established. Accountability will be paramount.
“As part of our new framework, the position of Executive Vice President of Football Operations will not be filled in 2020. Dave and Doug will each continue to report directly to me, as they have since mid-December. Our work begins immediately. We have a lot of draft capital in our favor to help us achieve our goals for 2020, and beyond.
“Finally, I was struck and impressed, but not surprised, by the strong showing of our fans Sunday at TIAA Bank Field. The euphoria and passion was genuine and appreciated by everyone with our team, and that goes double for me. My sincere thanks to everyone. It was a moment that underlines the fact that nothing beats having a winning football team. It’s my obligation to deliver one to Jacksonville in 2020.”
In his three seasons as Jaguars coach, Marrone has led Jacksonville to a 21-27 record, including a 10-6 mark in 2017, when the Jags rode an all-world defense to an AFC South title and an AFC Championship Game appearance.
Marrone earned an extension through 2021 following the stellar season, but since Jacksonville fell in Foxboro that January, the Jags have finished in the AFC South cellar in back-to-back seasons.
In 2019, the Jaguars got off to a 4-4 start with rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew
filling in dutifully for the injured Nick Foles
, who Jacksonville signed to a four-year, $88 million extension in the offseason. But Jacksonville fell in six of its last eight games and was outscored 174-57 during a midseason five-game losing streak.
And yet the Jags have looked past that poor run of play and given Marrone another chance to prove that the last two years -- and this season's last eight weeks -- have been the exception to the rule.
The emergence of Minshew may have been a factor.
Minshew generated the highest passer rating (91.2) among all nine rookie quarterbacks who started at least one game this season. His 21 TD passes rank second
in his class (behind only Daniel Jones
' 24). His 3,271 passing yards ranked second behind only Kyler Murray
(3,722). And the Jags QB threw just six INTs, fewest among any rookie that started at least six games -- and half as many as Jones and Murray.
All six of the Jags' wins came with Minshew at the helm. The Jags finished 6-6 with Minshew as the starter, and 0-4 in Foles starts.
Unearthing Minshew in the sixth round was a spectacular find for the Jags.
The question heading into 2020 is whether Minshew will begin next season as the starter or whether the Jags will give Foles and his massive contract another chance.
For his part, the rookie is ready for a battle.
"I know I am going to go home. I am going to work really hard," he said. "I know Nick is going to go home and work really hard. We are both going to show up and do the best we can for this team."