Jags’ Coughlin, Caldwell, Marrone to return in ’19

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan isn’t making any major changes to his leadership structure, announcing after Sunday’s game that executive VP of football operations Tom Coughlin, general manager Dave Caldwell and head coach Doug Marrone will return in 2019.

The Jaguars were just 10 minutes away from playing in the Super Bowl last season but were one of the most disappointing teams in the NFL in 2018. They finished 5-11, which included a seven-game losing streak and an embarrassing loss at Tennessee on national television in early December.

Khan said that while he wasn’t happy with this season, he does value stability and said he still has the same faith in Coughlin, Caldwell and Marrone he had when he hired the trio in January 2017.

“I informed Tom Coughlin this week that I want him to see through our shared goal of bringing a Super Bowl title to Jacksonville,” Khan said in a statement released after Sunday’s 20-3 loss at Houston. “Given our overall body of work over the past two seasons, I offered to Tom that I preferred entering the 2019 season with as much stability as reasonable or possible at the top of our football operation. However, those decisions, at all times, are Tom’s decisions, and I would respect any call he made on our general manager and head coach. I am pleased that Tom sees our situation and opportunity similarly, so we will return to work this week fully confident and optimistic with Dave Caldwell as our general manager and Doug Marrone as our head coach.

“I have the same trust in Tom, Dave and Doug as I did upon their introduction two years ago, and I do believe our best path forward for the moment is the one less disruptive and dramatic. Stability should not be confused with satisfaction, however. I am far from content with the status quo, and while it’s best to put 2018 behind us, I will not overlook how poorly we accounted for ourselves following a 3-1 start. There were far too many long Sundays over the last three quarters of the season, with today’s loss in Houston being the final example, and that cannot repeat itself in 2019. That’s my message to our football people and players, but also our sponsors and fans, both of whom were remarkable.”

The season fell apart because of a slew of injuries, poor play by quarterback Blake Bortles, and a defense that hasn’t played at the elite level it did in 2017. Injuries hit the offensive line and tight end especially hard. The Jaguars had only one opening-day starting offensive lineman on the field on Sunday and nine of the 11 offensive starters were either backups or not with the team until October.

Running back Leonard Fournette played in only eight games because of injuries and a one-game suspension for getting into a fight during a loss to Buffalo on Nov. 25. He finished with 439 yards and five touchdowns and averaged just 3.3 yards per carry. That was a major issue for a team built around a power running game and play-action passing game.

Bortles regressed in 2018 after posting the best season of his career in 2017 and was playing so poorly that Marrone benched him and fired offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett on Nov. 26.

The Jaguars scored just two offensive touchdowns in their final five games.

The Jaguars went 10-6, won the AFC South and made their first playoff appearance in a decade last season. They beat Buffalo and Pittsburgh before losing to New England in the AFC Championship Game, after which Khan gave Coughlin, Caldwell and Marrone two-year contract extensions through the 2021 season. Marrone is 15-17 in his two seasons with the Jaguars.

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