The Jaguars are set to remove the interim tag and name Doug Marrone as their fifth coach in franchise history, ESPN's Adam Schefter first reported Monday.
In hiring Marrone, who served as its interim coach in the final two games following Gus Bradley's dismissal, Jacksonville is the first of six clubs to fill its head vacancy.
Marrone, 52, coached the Bills from 2013-14, compiling a 15-17 mark before surprisingly resigning following a 9-7 2014 campaign. He previously served as head coach at Syracuse (2009-2012), which preceded a three-year stint as offensive coordinator for Sean Payton and Drew Brees in New Orleans (2006-2008).
With many expecting the Jaguars to opt for a defensive mind to maximize their host of young talent on that side of the ball, GM Dave Caldwell instead went with Marrone, who impressed during his two-game audition at the end of the season by coaxing perhaps the best two games from Blake Bortles in a disappointing third campaign.
In addition to Bortles, Marrone inherits a trio of young receivers — Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns and Marqise Lee — young tailback T.J. Yeldon and veteran Chris Ivory. Marrone's area of expertise, the offensive line, is one in which Jacksonville requires vast improvement. Bortles was sacked just 34 times — down from 106 combined in his first two seasons — but the unit was inconsistent.
Bradley was a player's coach and the Jaguars were as undisciplined as any team in football. Marrone seemingly lost control of the Bills during his tenure, but seemed to get the young Jaguars to respond to him in the final weeks of the season.
We ranked the Jaguars as the second-most desirable opening, with enough talent on both sides of the ball to make them a 2017 worst-to-first candidate. Retaining Marrone suggests Caldwell agrees; Caldwell selected Bortles third overall three years ago and the way the young quarterback improved under Marrone's watch infers he'll have a chance to retain his grip on the job.
In the wide-open AFC South, the Jaguars could once again emerge this offseason as a potential contender. Marrone will get a head start on five other teams toward constructing his staff, with critical decisions looming on which coaches, particularly on defense, are best suited to develop a young nucleus including Jalen Ramsey, Yannick Ngaukoe, Malik Jackson, Dante Fowler Jr., Tashaun Gipson and Myles Jack, among others.