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Doug Marrone addresses Leonard Fournette’s public clamoring for Cam Newton

Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone details what he saw in Gardner Minshew in his rookie season and says he's comfortable with the former sixth-round pick being the starter this upcoming season.

Gardner Minshew II currently is the starting quarterback in Jacksonville. But Cam Newton is available, and Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette has publicly clamored for the team to sign Newton.

Jaguars coach Doug Marrone addressed Fournette’s infatuation with Newton during Friday’s Lunch Talk Live on NBCSN.

“You know, with players, you’re always going to have friends [who say] like, ‘Hey, this guy should come, or that guy should come,’ and you try to talk to the players about talking about the team and doing what is best and keeping a single message, but then a lot of times you’re going to have to be able to communicate in that locker room, I mean that is the big thing with me,” Marrone told Mike Tirico. “I mean, we all talk about men are all men and everything, when you are in that locker room, you’ve got to say, ‘Hey listen, I said this because I really think this is best for the team,’ and if you can’t say this is what’s best for the team, then you’re going to have issues. . . . It’s not like a coach can get in between two players and fix something. You know, these things have to be fixed among each other at times and the coach can go in there and try to guide it through.”

So it sounds like Fournette’s stated preference for Newton doesn’t mean that the Jaguars will be signing Newton, but it apparently does mean that Fournette and Minshew may have to work things out between them, at some point before the 2020 season begins. Possibly with Marrone serving as a mediator, of arts.

Regardless of whether the Jaguars add Newton or anyone else at the quarterback position, Marrone will put the best man on the field, for pragmatic reasons that reflect the inherent meritocracy of the sport.

“I think we as coaches, when we put someone out there, people always ask, ‘Hey do you have confidence?’” Marrone told Tirico. “Well, we have to. I mean, it’s our responsibility that the players we put on the field, we have to have confidence with them. Not only for you as the head coach, but more importantly for his teammates and the people around him. So the one thing that I have always agreed with, and maybe it is the player in me, the past player, that players know who deserves to be on that field. The players know who should be starting, so it is not one of these things where I like this guy so he is going to play or I like this guy, you know you have to go out there and earn the right to play. Not just from the coaches, but also from your teammates.”

So if the organization would decide to add Newton, plenty of players (like Fournette) would believe from the get-go that the 2015 NFL MVP deserves to be on the field. This doesn’t mean that the Jaguars would or could (given the salary cap) pursue Newton. But if they end up, via free agency or the draft, with someone who eventually persuades the locker room that he’s the best option, then that’s guy who will be more likely to play.

None of this means Minshew isn’t the right guy. Marrone gushed to Tirico about Minshew’s ability “to make plays with his feet” and “to get out of trouble and make some plays.”

"[I]t was exciting because in the beginning, this is well-documented, we weren’t sure if we needed to go out and get a backup quarterback early in the season because of the preseason or we were going to stick with Gardner?” Marrone said. “When Nick [Foles], he unfortunately got hurt early on and [Minshew] came in and played well towards the game plan we were thinking to ourselves, ‘Hey listen, this kid is a lot better than we thought coming into the season,’ and then the second game he started of struggling a little bit against Houston and then really in the last three drives lead us on potential scoring drives late in the game. [Against] Denver he came back in the two-minute situation. It seemed like whenever the pressure was at its highest he performed at his best.”

Those attributes presumably will make the team less likely to bring in someone who would potentially cause the locker room to believe that he should be playing instead of Minshew. Still, Marrone realizes that Fournette’s position regarding Newton can’t be ignored; otherwise, any potential problems between Fournette and Minshew may fester.