This is the day when every man, woman and child is supposed to take stock of all of the positive things that have happened in their lives. Thanksgiving is a time of remembrance, family, and of course three metric tons of leftover turkey. As a franchise, we've made great strides this season in protecting the longterm security of the Jacksonville Jaguars: Ticket sales have increased by more than 20%, every game this season has been on TV, and the team has shown a dedication to doing everything they can to keep Jack Del Rio as the head coach. It has been a wild season, full of crazy wins and last second comebacks that a lot of people have compared to the 1996 season. Back then, Tom Coughlin was the coach of a spunky, young upstart team that overachieved its way into the playoffs.
I don't know about the rest of the BCC family, but I am extremely thankful for what Tom Coughlin did for this franchise.The Jaguars have only ever had two head coaches: Tom Coughlin and Jack Del Rio. For a team in its 16th year in existence, that kind of longevity is pretty rare. You don't keep a head coaching job that long without doing a darn good job. Coughlin was exactly what the young Jaguars needed in a head coach. In his time in Jacksonville, he was a work-hard-or-go-home guy. If you weren't early, you were late. He didn't just want you to play smart, error free football, he would insist on it. Sometimes it was tough love, but it was hard to ignore the results. In 1996, we magicked our way to the AFC championship game behind the young, rugged, mobile QB Mark Brunell. That 1996 year was not the height of the Jaguars run. Coughlin never let up and worked the team harder, until in 1999, the Jaguars had our best ever record of 14-2. The team was focused, they fought hard, they ran the ball on offense and they hit people on defense. If we hadn't come up against the Titans in the playoffs (the only team to beat us that season), Coughlin would have had us in the Super Bowl.
Of course, after these seasons, the Jaguars ran into some salary cap problems, and essentially, the team was dismantled. Good players were let go, big names were dropped, and the quality of the team fell off. Coughlin didn't digress as a head coach, and he continued to make the most of what he was left with up until his firing after the 2002 season.
Some were sad to see him go, especially considering what he's done since. As I'm sure you are all aware, the Jaguars travel to New York to face Tom Coughlin and his New York Giants team. Coughlin has relaxed a little bit in terms of his aggressive attitude. He still demands that his players play smart fundamental football: he recently benched Ahmad Bradshaw, his starting running back, because of his trouble with fumbles. Coughlin loves respect, and has earned it by leading the Giants to a Super Bowl win. Personally, I still have a soft spot for Coughlin thinking about all he has done for this franchise. He got us going in the right direction right from the very start. He focused on playing good defense and taught the whole city of Jacksonville to put in the extra effort necessary to win.
When the Jaguars face Tom Coughlin this weekend, I hope that we can all just sit back for a second and think of the effect that Tom Coughlin has had on this team and just be thankful.