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Two regimes later, Syracuse still has some of Doug Marrone’s fingerprints on it

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While some old Syracuse may have gotten on the Jags this year...

New Era Pinstripe Bowl - West Virginia v Syracuse Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

In mid-September of this year, Dan and I declared that Doug Marrone was an “Absolute MaJAGcian” and praised the Jacksonville Jaguars as the odds-on Super Bowl favorite in the AFC. Three months later, the Jags are 4-9 and have won just a game since. We obviously cursed them. May we never utter the phrase “MaJAGcian” again...

Despite Marrone’s team struggling this year (he even fired Nathaniel Hackett six or seven years after some of you wanted him to), they still did numerous things well, and with a new quarterback, they could be right back atop the AFC South come next year.

The Ringer dove into this in their Jaguars “exit interview” last week, and while most of you may not care about Jacksonville’s NFL team (and I don’t either), I did find the characterization of their previous success to be rather familiar...

1. The Jaguars forced opposing offenses to throw the ball to catch up, which ...

2. Allowed pass rushers Calais Campbell and Yannick Ngakoue to wreak havoc, which ...

3. Made quarterbacks chuck the ball downfield into the teeth of the Jaguars’ talented secondary, which ...

4. Allowed Leonard Fournette to kill the clock, which ...

5. Meant Blake Bortles didn’t have to do anything.

More directly, sub in some names, and you get a lot of the blueprint for what the Syracuse Orange did so well this season. That’s not to credit Marrone for anything that Dino Babers did over the last three years (quite the opposite, actually). But it’s interesting to see how some of the lessons of what Marrone’s teams did well at Syracuse both followed him to the NFL and also stuck around with the Orange through a couple coaching changes.

North Carolina State v Syracuse Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

Syracuse, as you likely noticed, scored quickly whenever possible this year and that usually forced teams to throw, avoiding what was a suspect run defense for at least half of 2018. The secondary wasn’t elite like Jacksonville’s is, but it was opportunistic as a function of both its scheme and talent.

SU also deployed its most effective pass-rush since Marrone was head coach, as the Orange were 10th in the country with 38 sacks on the year. That, combined with the secondary’s emphasis on turnovers is how you end up with an improved run game and a quarterback that takes risks yet doesn’t necessarily make a ton of mistakes.

Were the old Marrone/Scott Shafer defenses in mind when this year’s defense was constructed by Babers and Brian Ward? Who knows. These aren’t concepts unique to Syracuse football. We just happened to have them a couple times in the last decade and our old coach brought some lessons with him to the pros.

But still, entertaining that despite so many changes within the program, some key principles still seem to be the guiding forces for its success. Maybe Marrone takes a couple notes from Dino come 2019 when he’s trying to resurrect those Super Bowl hopes...