Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan had seen enough. On Wednesday, which was days after the NFLPA warned players about joining the Jaguars because of excessive fans levied by the team, Khan decided to fire Executive Vice President of football operations, Tom Coughlin.
According to ESPN.COM, the apparent last straw for Khan was the letter the NFLPA sent to every player in the league that announced it won a grievance filed against the Jaguars for requiring former player Dante Fowler to attend rehab and doctor appointments in Jacksonville during the 2018 offseason and fining him more than $700,000 when he didn’t.
The 73-year-old Coughlin ran the Jaguars’ organization for the last three seasons. Coughlin was the first coach in the team’s history from 1995-2002, and he came back in 2017 to try to resurrect the organization.
Today, Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone gave his thoughts on the firing of Coughlin.
“So obviously most of you know me. It’s a little bit different. I wanted to make sure that I was available today to try to answer any questions that you might have. I think that obviously it’s a tough situation and it’s never any one person’s fault. We’re all to blame for what’s going on during the season. Obviously, right now, what is important to me is obviously my job, is to lead these coaches, and that’s what we did last night game planning, and lead these players and do the best job I can for them to really win these next two games. So, that’s my focus. I’ve said it before, pretty much blinders on going ahead. We tried to keep the schedule the same for the players that it was today. I don’t want any excuses from the coaches or the players about distractions or what may be going on, and I’ll address some things with the players after practice because I wanted to keep things the same. And then I wanted to make sure I was available for you, and obviously, the people out there that support the organization, and our sponsors and answer whatever questions I can, whatever information I have.”
(On who informed him of the firing of Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin)
“I can’t remember the exact time. I was working on goal line short-yardage [situations], and then Coach [Tom] Coughlin walked in, and he said that [Jaguars Owner] Shad [Khan] had ‘just let me go.’ We’ve been through this. Unfortunately in coaching it happens. We’ve been through it before. I kind of just took a step back and asked Coach, ‘Is there anything that I can do for you?’ Coach was as professional as you guys know he would be. That was it.”
(On how long the conversation lasted)
“As long as how I just said it.”
(On what working for Coughlin was like for him)
Marrone: “An experience that I’ll look back [on] and be grateful for. When you have someone that, obviously the Syracuse University connection, and then my job at Syracuse while he was at the Giants, the relationship that we were able to build there. To be around someone that has just a great heart, great principles, great family man. I think those are the things that come to my mind. But again, like I said before, there’s not a lot of time for me for reflection, because I have to lead these coaches and lead this team. It’s funny, I always think about – someone asked me about seasons, and I was in New Orleans, and I said, ‘I’m always about three seasons behind,’ before I can actually go back and really reflect on how I feel, or my inner emotions or my take on things. Because with the position I have, I take a lot of pride in making sure that I stay focused, that I am doing a great job leading coaches and leading the players because that’s really what your job is at the end of the day.”
(On the positives of him and General Manager Dave Caldwell working together moving forward)
Marrone: “I don’t look that far ahead. Right now, I’m thing about, ‘OK, these plays that we have in practice that we need to do a good job on versus Atlanta.’ I think it’s the same thing. I think my focus is on the team and on these games. My focus is getting the coaches better, the players better, because we all know that we have to play better than we have been playing. I think you always get in trouble when you go too far ahead, because what happens in my experience, I can only speak for myself, is when you go too far ahead, or you too far behind, you’re going to lose out on the day. I really believe that. That’s been my philosophy. So, for me, now’s not a time for me to think about tomorrow, or the next day. Right now, the time for me is to be in this moment and be there for the coaches and the team.”
(On the current state of the franchise)
Marrone: “That’s a good question. I’m working on trying to win these games. I know that myself that obviously, I’m disappointed. I’m judged by wins and losses. I feel like I understand that I put it on me that hey, whether it’s sponsorship, ownership, the rest of the building, the fans, the people here, because I know it’s difficult. It’s always tough to write when a team’s not winning. I put that on myself. I take a lot of pride in being a good leader and being able to win football games, and obviously, I haven’t won enough. So, I think it’s the same type of question that [1010 XL reporter] Hayes [Carlyon] said, I really just stay in this moment and try to do the best job I can and keep fighting. I am where I am today. I believe this because I’ve always just kept fighting and stayed focused. I think that I’ve always held my head up high, knowing I did the best job I can, and I will always continue to do that as long as I’m in the position I’m in. Whatever position it may be. That’s just kind of how I’ve lived my life. I don’t apologize for it. There’s mistakes that I’ve made, and I feel like I learned from them, and I think that’s a sign of good leadership when you can admit you make mistakes and you move on. You guys know that I’ve tried many things. I’ve tried to correct things that have here before. Some of theme have been positive, some of them we have to still keep working on, and I will continue to do that as long as I’m the head football coach.”
(On if his relationship with Coughlin has changed significantly over the past three seasons)
Marrone: “It’s really only the second time I’ve heard that. I’ve gotten a call from someone saying that I haven’t spoken to Tom [Coughlin], which is really a joke. We talked every day. I wouldn’t use those terms that the relationship was strained, because I have so much respect for him, and I listen. And I’m one of those people that I’ve always believed with good leadership that you have to be a good listener. And I’m also humble enough to understand that I don’t know everything. So, the people that have had experienced a lot of things in my profession I’ll look to and talk to and figure out is that the best for our football team, or does that make sense to me and [will I] be able to do that. So, I don’t see – If anything, I see the relationship has gotten stronger through the three years.”
(On what Jaguars Owner Shad Khan told his after the decision to part ways with Coughlin) “
Marrone: Pretty much Shad [Khan] brought me in his office afterwards and said that he let coach go, and that for the time that I will be reporting to him, and that he expects me to be focused on these next two games. I said, ‘absolutely,’ and that was that conversation.”
(On if him and Khan talked about anything further than the next two games)
Marrone; “No, nor should I expect that. Right now, that’s what should be expected.”
(On if he thinks the decision to part ways with Coughlin will make it easier to keep players focused for the last two games)
Marrone: “I don’t think there’s anything easy about this profession. I really don’t. So, I always worry when it’s that word, we know that that easy, or comfortable, or anything of that nature, so nothings that.”
(On if parting ways with Coughlin was like removing an obstacle)
Marrone: “Like I said, I haven’t sat down and really thought those things out. For me, nothing has changed, from my standpoint. I’m still doing everything that I have to do for the coaches and the players. I haven’t really thought about that. There’s nothing that I have ever felt there was an obstacle for me. It’s the same way I looked at my life, I’ve had a ton of obstacles, always able to overcome them whatever they may be. But I feel I have good communication with the players, I have good communication with the coaches. We’ve worked together on a lot of things, so I don’t think there’s any obstacles.”
(On what his message to the team will be in regards to parting ways with Coughlin)
Marrone: “Sure. I’m going to say obviously they know that coach [Coughlin] was let go last evening and that you’re going to get a lot of questions on it. I sat there and answered a bunch of them, but I want to remind you of one thing – our focus is on the Atlanta Falcons. We have to win. There’s no difference; nothing’s changed from what I said before. We’re all fighting for our jobs, for our life, really. I mean that’s what we do as coaches, we all know that. That’s what the situation is. [It’s] No different for the players, they have the same thing. So again, it’s a tough situation, but you have to keep your focus, and you have to lead, and you have to go out there and do your job.”
(On how often he was having conversations with Owner Shad Khan before beginning to report to him last night)
Marrone: “I have always had conversations with Coach [Tom Coughlin]. With Shad, we have talked obviously, but nothing out of the ordinary.”
(On the structure of reporting to Shad Khan and how that works)
Marrone: “I don’t know. I haven’t gotten through this structurally.”
(On communicating with Tom Coughlin and then Tom Coughlin reporting to Owner Shad Khan)
Marrone: “Everyone knows I reported to Tom, yes.”
(On Jaguars players’ comments on fines and if that was a distraction)
Marrone: “I think I hit on that a little bit yesterday when I spoke about the level of fines and that all fines are obviously collectively bargained. That is something that I think the players should address, and it is something that we have to keep in mind. I think that the players and myself have communicated that. We have made changes, and it benefitted our team. I think that is one of the things that when you talk about leadership and you talk about communication and everyone being in it together – these are the things that you have to do to work with whether it is coaches or players, those things have been addressed and we are on the right path. There is no doubt about it. The players know that. I believe they would express that. I can’t speak for them, but I know we have made great strides in that area.