It was all smiles Thursday morning at Everbank Stadium in Jacksonville, and there he was, Tom Coughlin, being re-introduced as the newly created, Jags VP of Football operations.
There is no doubt that Coughlin has a special place in Jaguar fans hearts, as he was the architect 20 years ago of the expansion team that made the AFC Championship game in it’s second year.
Clearly, the Jags were good and playoff level during most of his tenure. He is a lauded figure in North Florida and rightfully, so.
But, as “The Monkees” once sang “That was then. This is, now.”
When Shad Khan gave Doug Marrone the full-time chance to be the head coach earlier this week, he did so after having already decided to bring the now 70-year-old Coughlin back in as the ruling executive over he and GM Dave Caldwell.
And that’s where, you will have to forgive us here at F.F.I. for being a bit dubious of this dynamic being put into motion.
This new-found role is similar to what Coughlin’s mentor Bill Parcells became with the Dolphins about 10 years ago. But, here’s the logical reality: Coughlin is a tough nosed almost militaristic coach who led the N.Y. Giants to two Super Bowl crowns.
He knows one way: HIS way. But, in this instance, he’s not the coach. Not in the planning, preparation or game day decisions. He’s an administrator. And that’s not going to be easy for him or for those below him in the chain of command.
Examples are coming out already. Marrone was told which coaches he had to fire on defense and that was done two days ago. He has apparently been told that Coughlin has full authority to hire and veto assistants being brought in.
In fact, well placed NFL info man, Alex Marvez of The Sporting News and Sirius/XM NFL Radio, found this very telling info out and reported it Thursday. First, Marrone was apparently already stopped on a hire he wanted to make:
I'm told Tom Coughlin has blocked Doug Marrone from hiring Donnie Henderson 2 @Jaguars coaching staff. TC/DH had big blowup at '05 scrimmage
— Alex Marvez (@alexmarvez) January 12, 2017
And it didn’t stop there. Marvez put out the further extent that Coughlin’s power extends over the hiring of upcoming staff members:
I'm told Tom Coughlin wants Doug Marrone to interview at least 3 outside coaches for every @Jaguars staff position member he wants to keep
— Alex Marvez (@alexmarvez) January 12, 2017
Look, there’s nothing wrong with being thorough, and clearly Khan has full faith in Coughlin’s judgement to give him this kind of power. But it also indicates that there’s more trouble on the horizon when it comes to free agency, the draft and the 53-man roster during the season.
Does anyone really believe that Caldwell now has the authority to pick players in either phase?
What kind of say-so will Marrone truly have in the off season or the final 53 come September?
Does he have a say when it comes to QB Blake Bortles, for example? Coughlin was asked at the presser Thursday about the embattled starter and was definitive (whatever that’s worth in January):
— NFL on Reddit (@NFLonReddit) January 12, 2017
Marrone had been dropping bread crumbs while Jags interim coach that he wants to see true competition at QB this upcoming season. And, that will likely happen. What will also likely happen is Bortles will struggle, probably early and then who gets to make the decision on QB?
And here’s another obvious reality, if Marrone struggles out of the gate (0-2, 1-3, etc.) how long before media, fans, etc. start talking, writing, even YELLING, that Coughlin should come out of the ivory tower and start doing what he’s done best: be the head coach.
So, obviously, there’s optimism in J’ville right now, but as we’ve done above, a closer examination shows there is potential here already for real problems, too… and quickly this off season.
We will be watching and reminding that we weren’t fans of this set-up for the Jags from the beginning.
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