The Jacksonville Jaguars have made some controversial and somewhat puzzling moves since the end of the 2016 regular season. Today, CWT is looking at the fan-favorite-phrase “drinking the company kool-aid” and why it’s okay to be excited for the Jaguars’ upcoming year.
TOM COUGHLIN IS BACK!!! YAAAAAAYYYY!!!!!!
My, how the tides have changed and the tables have turned. Fifteen years ago (fifteen!), Jacksonville Jaguars fans were struggling through their first-ever three-season losing-record streak and were ready for the team to make a change at the top. It was so fervent that fans launched a website to rally support to fire then-head coach Tom Coughlin. Hint: it was called FireTomCoughlin.com.
That’s right; some of you young whippersnappers may not know this, but back in the late 90s and early 2000s, people bought and launched websites for just about anything. You can see the current version of the still-existing website in the link above, where the original Jaguars fan owners have apparently long since been replaced by NY Football Giants fan owners, but this little website that could is still hanging around, well over a year since Coughlin stepped down from the Giants head coach position.
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When word got out in late October linking interest between unaffiliated Tom Coughlin and the faltering Jacksonville Jaguars, Jags fans began salivating. The Jaguars’ official website fan-interaction column, O-Zone, endured months of questions from fans inquiring about this possible connection. (Okay, these remarks are really speculation, since the first Couglin-related question I was able to find didn’t make it into the O-Zone until two days after Bradley was fired, very nearly two months later. However, our friends over at Big Cat Country conducted a poll shortly after the October report that did suggest strong interest by the fans.) At the very least, after reports of the Jaguars meeting with Coughlin to interview for the head coaching position, there seemed to be an air of strong intrigue in the fan base.
You see, the ironic thing is that back when fans wanted Coughlin fired, they felt that he was too strict. He was too much of a disciplinarian. His gruff style rubbed people the wrong way. As reported by the Associated Press on December 30, 2002:
"Equally as damaging was the fact that Coughlin never seemed to connect personally with his players or with Jacksonville’s fans.It was never any secret that quarterback Mark Brunell didn’t get along with the coach. Player after player would leave the Jaguars and rip Coughlin for his poor people skills, his demanding practice regimen and a list of rules and fineable offenses that bordered on ridiculous."
You may recall in last week’s Coloring With Teal article that I discussed the noteworthy mismanagement of the team since Coughlin’s exit. One of the most consistent issues this team has struggled with during that period has been discipline and accountability.
This problem came to a head during the season as the losses piled up and then reverberated into the offseason as player after player criticized Gus Bradley’s head coaching style. The universal consensus was that Bradley had focused so heavily on the vague concept of “improvement” that he lost sight of the primary goal of winning, and discipline was also a lost priority.
In order to cure this ill, the Jaguars’ team owner, Shad Khan, decides to hire Tom Coughlin back to the team as the newly-created role of Vice President of Football Operations while making Doug Marrone the permanent Head Coach. And The Fans Rejoiced.
Time heals all wounds.
Since Coughlin was hired back to the Jacksonville Jaguars, there has been a different feel around the organization. This has led to various levels of fretting by the very fans who hailed Coughlin’s return only weeks before.
First were the decisions to retain the offensive and defensive coordinators from the 2016 3-13 team. Shortly before these were finalized, it was reported that Coughlin insisted that Doug Marrone interview three people for the positions before he finalized his choices. More recently were the roster decisions to, in the view of many onlookers, ‘create holes’ on the team. The most prominent example included not taking offensive tackle Kelvin Beachum’s contract option.
This week is the NFL Scouting Combine, where the Big Three (Coughlin, Marrone, and Caldwell) are interviewed and their to-date decisions are questioned. In the coming weeks, we have the beginning of the league year and the onset of free agency. Shortly thereafter, the 2017 NFL Draft. (Enjoy the bottomless pit of Mock Drafts!)
My point is that despite the excitement of the return of the prodigal son in Tom Coughlin, the fans have and will continue to pick apart every move that the team makes until the 2017 football season. This is reasonable, of course, in light of the team’s long-term struggles. However, don’t forget that Khan hired Coughlin because of a) his history with the team, but more importantly, b) Tom Coughlin is well known as a great football mind.
Coughlin has been successful with taking two franchises deep into the playoffs regularly as a coach. He has been successful as a talent evaluator for the Jaguars during his coaching tenure. Part of the reason you, dear reader, were excited by the Great Return of Coughlin had to do with the success he’s had both as a Jaguar and since he’s left and run the New York Giants.
Remember, he’s a Super Bowl-winning coach nowadays.
Now we have two of three people whom we know for sure are sticklers for discipline and accountability. Often times, fans write to the O-Zone and complain that Oehser “drinks the team Kool-aid” and pushes the rosy view of the team.
Indeed, it may actually now be ‘okay’ to be excited about the 2017 Jaguars. No, TC is not the greatest talent evaluator of all time necessarily, but he is in the upper echelon (remember John Henderson and Marcus Stroud?). According to Marrone and Caldwell, he is a great resource to have on hand for advice and guidance. Of course, you have to ask yourself.
Did you like the Coughlin hire simply for the nostalgia of his winning ways back in the nineties? Or did like it for that reason AND that you recognize his qualifications to be the Jacksonville Jaguars Vice President of Football Operations?
After all, Tom Coughlin knows how to win.