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.
Jaguars DE Yannick Ngakoue hinting he’s gone again?
One of the key free-agent questions for the Jaguars continues to be whether or not they’re going to allow their best pass rusher, Yannick Ngakoue, to test the free-agent market coming up? And, once again, the player may be giving a clue that he’s going to do just that.
Ngakoue tweeted Wednesday morning the following phrase, which seems to indicate, yet again, that he will be playing somewhere else in 2020:
— Yannick Ngakoue (@YannickNgakoue) February 26, 2020
This goes along with something that we wrote earlier in January. That’s when just a couple of days after the season Ngakoue posted essentially a goodbye message to Jaguar fans. This came on the heels of him having held out for a new contract for the first few days of training camp last August, but not receiving a new deal during the season, etc.
Ngakoue, whose 37.5 career sacks are the most by a Jaguars player after 63 career games, is sure to be a sought-after player from many different teams. GM Dave Caldwell said at the end of the season when asked about re-sgning his star pass rusher, “He is a tremendous player and even a better person. How he handled his business this year was tremendous. But, I would say that’s priority No. 1, to make sure he comes back to Jacksonville. Hopefully, we can get that done. ″
It’s also worth noting that at Tuesday’s NFL Scouting Combine at media availability in Indianapolis, coach Doug Marrone repeated that he wants Ngakoue to remain in Jaguars teal and white:
Doug Marrone: ‘’No doubt where I stand or the coaches.”
—They want Yannick Ngakoue back. pic.twitter.com/vOorH4hH95
— John Reid (@JohnReid64) February 26, 2020
However, it remains to be seen if Marrone and Caldwell are willing to “pony up” huge money for him or even potentially, put the franchise tag on him before free agency begins next month?
Ngakoue figures to want a contract close to what the top ends are getting paid right now. Demarcus Lawrence and Frank Clark both signed five-year, over $100 million deals in 2019 and received guaranteed money that exceeded $62 million. That is massive for Jacksonville.
If the Jags opt for the “franchise tag,” then the talented end will be making around $19 million dollars, which is the current average of the top five players at his position. The Jaguars could also put the tag on him and then work on a longer term, salary cap friendly, deal that would replace the tag later in the off season.
Jaguars confirm they are declining option on DT Dareus
At Tuesday’s media session at the NFL Scouting Combine, Jaguars GM Dave Caldwell made official what had been rumored for the last couple of days regarding defensive tackle Marcell Dareus: he will not be brought back for a fourth season in Jacksonville.
Caldwell confirmed the Jaguars are not picking up DT Marcell Dareus' option.
— John Reid (@JohnReid64) February 25, 2020
Dareus only played briefly in 2019, as he suffered a core muscle injury that sidelined him after only six games and he was placed on injured reserve. The former number one pick of the Buffalo Bills had played for coach Doug Marrone for a couple of seasons in Western New York.
Marrone and Caldwell traded for Dareus during the 2017 season and he helped them with their rise to the AFC South title and two playoff wins. This included Darius registering two sacks and four other tackles-for-loss in the Jaguars three playoff games that year.
Dareus made the Pro Bowl twice in Buffalo in 2013-14.
However, he has not lived up to his hefty contract that was reworked Jacksonville last February. Last season, Dareus made over $8 million dollars and the team would have been on the hook for $20 million this year had they picked up the option. That obviously wasn’t going to happen.
Dareus also has had legal troubles off the field, including a civil suit against him in Tampa for alleged sexual misconduct. As we wrote previously, a woman alleged that Dareus had sexually assaulted her in January of 2018 at a North Tampa Florida home, while Dareus was in town for the Alabama-Clemson College Football Playoff Championship Game.
However, that suit filed in Hillsborough County court was “dismissed with prejudice” last April, which means it cannot be re-filed.
Dareus, if healthy after the core muscle injury rehab, may have some value as a defensive tackle on the free agent market.
As for the Jaguars, they have former #1 pick defensive tackle Taven Bryan to play more in the middle and are trying to decide if free agent-to-be, DE Yannick Ngakoue, can be afforded for their 2020 salary cap?