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.
Jags coach Marrone acknowledged Wednesday he’s in jeopardy
As the Jaguars 2019 season has spiraled downward, their head coach acknowledged Wednesday that there are likely changes coming in North Florida.
Head Coach Doug Marrone meets the media prior to today's practice. https://t.co/Ks19PcB0te
— #DUUUVAL (@Jaguars) December 11, 2019
“We’re all fighting for our jobs. When you look at it from that standpoint, each person has to make their own decision on how they handle those things….It’s a constant microscope in this league, but I think it gets magnified when you are not winning football games,” Marrone said plainly.
It’s no secret that the Jaguars are plummeting. Sunday they were embarrassed again at home, this time by the L.A. Chargers 45 – 10. That was the fifth consecutive decisive loss (by at least 17 points) for a team that was once 4 – 4 and in the conversation are the AFC Wildcard picture.
Yes, there are injuries including the team losing defensive tackle Marcell Dareus and recently linebacker Myles Jack to season-ending IR. The same on offense where WR Marqise Lee never got healthy and made contributions this year. He, too is back on injured reserve.
Further, the team also had to deal with the constant off field distraction and then decided to trade away arguably their best player, defensive back Jalen Ramsey to the LA Rams. Granted, Ramsey wanted out and was trying not to play while the trade was being consummated. Still, this missed him on the field and it was an issue.
Then, there’s the mess on offense, where the Jags offensive line is in shambles and Marrone had to bench high-priced free agent quarterback Nick Foles before last week’s game. That’s because of his ineffective play and lack of mobility to play behind their poor line.
Rookie Gardner Minshew, who had won four games earlier this year, didn’t do much with only 162 yards in the air and a late third-quarter touchdown that only cut the lead to 31 – 10 in the loss Sunday.
Further, running back Leonard Fournette has now been neutralized by the lack of good line play and the inability to get the passing game going. Fournette went from having a good start to the season that included three 100-yard or more games out of four in late September and October, to having five of his last six games where he has run for 50 yards or less.
So, everywhere you look, the Jags are struggling and losing, and owner Shad Khan is expected to make wholesale changes at the end of the year.
But for now, Jacksonville must go out to Oakland this week and try not to be further embarrassed there.
Jaguars injury woes continue- LB Myles Jack to IR
The bad news on the injury front for the Jaguars continued on Thursday, when they placed star linebacker Myles Jack on injured reserve.
Source: #Jaguars LB Myles Jack (knee) is going on Injured Reserve today. A hit to the Jacksonville defense.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 5, 2019
Jack missed Sunday’s game against the Buccaneers with a knee injury that was believed to be a sprain suffered in the loss to the Colts two weeks ago. However, the move to IR indicates it may be more serious.
The Jaguars season has unraveled over the course of the last month with injuries to their defense and the team trading away perennial Pro Bowl defensive back Jalen Ramsey to the Rams. Jacksonville had already put DT Marcel Dareus on IR, All-Pro defensive tackle Calais Campbell has been trying to battle through a bad back and DB Tony Harrison has still not been cleared with a concussion.
Coach Doug Marrone has expressed the last two weeks that it has been a struggle for his defense with all of the injuries mounting late in the year.
As for Jack, he had settled in the middle linebacker roll after Telvin Smith abruptly retired in May.
Jack has been solid, but not spectacular, in the middle of the defense registering 7 or more tackles in five games this season. However he hasn’t forced a fumble, has only one interception and half of a sack. Jack also has just three tackles-for-loss at a position that often dictates much more output than that.
The former second-round pick out of UCLA had question marks about his knee coming out of college, when the Jaguars took him in the 2016 draft. However, he has answered critics on his durability by being active for all 59 games of his career up until last week.
Jacksonville will use veteran Donald Payne at middle linebacker for now. Payne played significantly last week against the Buccaneers and has been on and off of Jacksonville roster this season.
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