FOXBORO, Mass. — Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone knows what his team is walking into Sunday when they play the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium in the AFC Championship Game.
Marrone was a fixture in the AFC East for four years as an assistant with the New York Jets and two as head coach of the Buffalo Bills. His teams are 2-5 overall while playing the Patriots in Foxboro. Perhaps that’s why Marrone called Gillette Stadium the most difficult playing atmosphere in the NFL.
“It’s funny, people would ask me what’s the toughest place you’ve ever played, and I always say Gillette Stadium,” Marrone said. “People will be like, ‘No, what do you mean? Seattle, this.’ They’d start throwing out all these stadiums, and I’m like, ‘Guys, look at the record. Look at the atmosphere when you go up there. Unless you’re a team that’s been up there, and I’ve been up there quite a bit, it’s a very difficult place to play against a very, very well-coached team.”
Gillette Stadium isn’t as loud as Century Link Field in Seattle or Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, but the Patriots have the best home winning percentage (.767) in the NFL since the stadium opened in 2002.
It’s not just Gillette Stadium that makes the Patriots tough.
“I think the one thing that I probably have learned is that they can beat you in so many ways,” Marrone said. “They’re such a well-coached team with Coach Belichick and (offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels) and (defensive coordinator Matt Patricia) and (special teams coach) Joe Judge now that (Scott O’Brien’s) not there. They’re such a well-coached team that they can beat you in so many different ways. They’re gonna be sound. It’s a very, very difficult opponent.”
The Jaguars clearly are not overlooking the Patriots. The Patriots aren’t taking Jacksonville lightly either, despite what one Jaguars linebacker believes.