Jacksonville Jaguars legend Tom Coughlin’s new role with the team may finally get the franchise back to “normal.”
In reading an article Mike Florio on Pro Football Talk, a line of his vividly stuck out while assessing the Jacksonville Jaguars and the recent hire of Tom Coughlin. Coughlin now has final say over the roster, which Florio quickly dismisses:
"For normally functioning organizations, final say doesn’t really matter."
This is a concept that sticks out. The structure can vary, but the best organizations in the NFL – the New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Green Bay Packers – don’t have to broadcast how the decisions are made. There’s no big, public show about how the sausage is made. Ted Thompson or Mike McCarthy coming together or simply the brainchild of Bill Belichick, these organizations have committed to a structure and stuck with it. The structure has become an ingrained part of the organization.
Meanwhile, teams that perennially struggle (like the Jaguars) are often torn up internally on who gets to make a decision. Designating someone who has final say shouldn’t matter, but for those organizations it really, truly does. They’re so dysfunctional that someone needs to be held responsible and guide the team toward a vision.
All of this is exactly what makes this so important to the Jaguars to have Coughlin at the head as the executive vice president of football operations. General manager Dave Caldwell clearly wasn’t ready to shoulder the responsibility for the team. Owner Shad Khan isn’t connected or knowledgeable enough to take over a la Jerry Jones. Someone needs to have that control. Someone needs to stop the dysfunction.
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The notion that Coughlin has final say over the roster isn’t so much a signal that the Jags aren’t a normally functioning organization (we already knew that), it’s a signal that the Jags are shaping up. Coughlin has final say and will bear the responsibility for this team. Khan can’t do it, Caldwell couldn’t do it, so it falls to Coughlin.
For as dysfunctional as the Jaguars have been, this is an important step forward. For the first time since Coughlin left back following the 2002 season, the Jags have someone capable of shouldering the responsibility of the franchise. Shack Harris, Jack Del Rio, Gene Smith, Dave Caldwell, Gus Bradley; these are the names of leaders who tried to shoulder that responsibility but were ultimately found wanting.
The movement forward won’t be the Doug Marrone era or a continuation of the Dave Caldwell era. This is the Tom Coughlin 2.0 era. The buck stops with him. We know who is ultimately accountable.
Having final say isn’t so much about showing how out of touch the Jags have been but more about re-setting the team to get to a point where they can function like “normal” organizations. It’s time to get back to normal and that starts with figuring out who is truly responsible.
That man is Coughlin.