FOXBORO, Mass. — Doug Marrone has the unique opportunity this week to give his Jacksonville Jaguars early training camp reps against Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots.
It’s safe to say he wouldn’t have gotten that opportunity with his old club.
Marrone, of course, served as head coach of the Buffalo Bills for two seasons before joining the Jaguars in 2015 and taking over as head coach in 2016. The Patriots hold joint practices with many teams, but they’d never share a training camp field with the AFC East rival Bills (and vice versa).
Yet there was Marrone on Gillette Stadium’s practice field Monday for the first day of Patriots-Jaguars joint practices, an irony that wasn’t lost on the head coach.
“I did say to the couple of (Jaguars coaches) that were with me in Buffalo, ‘Can you believe we’re going up there to practice?'” Marrone told reporters after Monday’s practice. “But I’m thankful to Coach Belichick for giving us this opportunity, because at the end of the day, we’re just trying to get our football team better, and this is definitely going to help us.”
Marrone and Belichick put their teams through a marathon two-and-a-half-hour session that was heavy on team drills, giving the young Jacksonville defense extended reps against Tom Brady while Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles got some burn against New England’s revamped secondary.
When asked if there was a better exercise for his defense than going up against a five-time Super Bowl champion in Brady this early in training camp, Marrone offered a one-word reply: “No.”
“I think when you look at the history, I think everyone understands where they are, what they’ve done,” Marrone said when pressed on working with the Patriots. “Like I said before, we have a great deal of respect for their coaches and their players. It’s a fact. So, I don’t really think you have to talk about it. I think everybody knows it.”
And now, Marrone knows what it’s like to go “behind enemy lines” and see his former division rival up close.
Thumbnail photo via Logan Bowles/USA TODAY Sports Images
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