COMMENTARY – After a long debate last night with some colleagues here at The Inscriber Magazine, I will concede the Jacksonville Jaguars still have plenty of work to do if they are to make the playoffs in 2017. However, Tom Coughlin is making sure that happens sooner rather than later.
The Tennessee Titans are on the rise and should Marcus Mariota come back from a broken leg at full strength, this is a team that could win 10-11 games. The Houston Texans have one of the best defenses in the NFL. While they lost AJ Bouye, a veteran quarterback (Tony Romo) could mean a trip to the Super Bowl.
The Indianapolis Colts still have Andrew Luck and have signed some solid free agents.
While the Jaguars are still in their infancy in another Tom Coughlin era of the franchise, there is no doubt the executive vice president is putting his stamp on this team with every move he makes, every step he takes at EverBank Field.
The Jaguars parted ways with both Sen’Derrick Marks and Roy Miller over the weekend. Two solid free agent pickups that helped to fortify the middle of the defensive line when they were healthy. The moves were not fan favorites, but they weren’t unwarranted. This is a team on the move and both had become role players in a scheme that may not exist this coming season. Jacksonville had the sixth-best defensive unit in the NFL last season and with changes, additions, and subtractions, it could be even better.
For those of us who have watched loss after loss and waited for a winner, that’s a scary proposition.
This is a franchise that has moved from a Gus Bradley mentality of “just getting better every day” to “we are here to win” with the fiery, sometimes cantankerous Coughlin.
It’s long overdue.
Coughlin was part of the regime that brought in the likes of John Jurkovic, Don Davey, and Joel Smeenge – blue collar defensive players who gave this team a bit of a mean streak and helped rookies develop into solid stars. That kind of mentality leads to two AFC Championship appearances in the first five years of this franchise’s existence.
While the fans are hoping for that same kind of turnaround, it may take a bit longer. The NFL is a different league and the makeup of this team is younger and more green than the teams of the late 1990s. Still, there is a real chance the Jaguars will be much better than the past four years have shown us.
Today, Dontari Poe and Latavius Murray come to town. Poe could be the defensive tackle this organization needs to help with run defense. Murray found success in Oakland as a complementary running back to Derek Carr’s passing attack. He may be the same kind of runner as TJ Yeldon and Chris Ivory, but he offers another body to make a difference. Coughlin and general manager have already made a difference in signing Calais Campbell, Bouye and Barry Church. The team found a solid tackle in Branden Albert and a swing guard in Earl Watford. There are interchangeable parts that will make this team better.
It has to. Nothing in the past five years has given the fan base hope like the simple announcement that Coughlin was returning to his initial NFL coaching post. There is a feeling inside the building of success already. There is a noticeable change in the commitment to winning. Not getting better, but winning.
That’s what Tom Coughlin is about. That’s what a winning franchise should be about.
Hopefully, that’s what these Jaguars will be about in 2017. They might be another season away from a true playoff run. But the season hasn’t started yet. Fans and this writer think the improvements in the organization are better than we have seen in some years.
Maybe as far back as when Tom Coughlin was named the team’s first head coach. If that’s the case, then the success of this organization has come full circle.