With Jaguars owner Shad Khan relieving EVP of Football Operations Tom Coughlin of his duties Wednesday evening, what comes next could change the direction of the franchise in it’s entirety. The fate of head coach Doug Marrone and General Manager Dave Caldwell may rest on the final two games of the season.
While ridding themselves of Coughlin was a strong and smart move by the Jaguars, the damage may take years to undo. The jettisoning of players such as Allen Robinson II and Jalen Ramsey left significant holes on the roster, and the current albatross of a contract at quarterback is unforgivable.
According to the Jaguars owner, the decision to remove Coughlin from his position was decided earlier in the fall, however in recent days Khan reconsidered. On Monday a statement was released by the NFL Players Association which indicated over 25% of grievances filed to the NFLPA by players came from the Jaguars organization — an embarrassment to the franchise.
The now-former Jaguars EVP of Football Operations repeatedly broke rules bargained in the NFL-NFLPA CBA.
“Within the past hour I informed Tom Coughlin that he was being relieved of his duties as Executive Vice President of Football Operations of the Jacksonville Jaguars, effective this evening,” Khan in a statement released earlier this evening. “I determined earlier this fall that making this move at the conclusion of the 2019 season would be in everyone’s best interests but, in recent days, I reconsidered and decided to make this change immediately.”
After thanking Coughlin for his efforts with the team over the past three seasons along with what he did for the franchise in it’s infancy 25 years ago, Khan laid out clearly how high his expectations for the team would be over the last two games and potentially the 2020 season, leaving the fate of both Caldwell and Marrone up in the air.
“General Manager Dave Caldwell and Head Coach Doug Marrone will each report directly to me on an interim basis. My expectations, and those of our fans, for our final two games and the 2020 season are high.”
The Jaguars will go on the road to face the Atlanta Falcons this Sunday before traveling back home for their final home game against the Indianapolis Colts in the final game of the season.
Determining what will be the fate of Marrone and Caldwell will very likely hinge on the outcome of those two matchup, and if they are retained, it is clear 2020 will have similar expectations. If the Jaguars do win both games, they will have won out in their final three games of the season after losing five in a row over the last month and a half.
For Caldwell, his hallmark draft in 2016 included All Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey, Pro Bowl defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, and linebacker Myles Jack. And remember — while Coughlin was in Jacksonville for the 2017 season which included a championship game run, the Jaguars roster was built almost entirely by Caldwell.
Ramsey demanded a trade earlier this season due to what he says were disagreements with the front office, Jack was signed to a contract extension earlier this season however he under-performed during the 11 games he played, and Ngakoue has further established himself as one of the best defensive ends in franchise history, and one of the most dominant defensive ends in the NFL.
Although there have been plenty of misses during his tenure as general manager, Caldwell could remain a member of the Jaguars moving forward — given another shot without Coughlin looming over his shoulder and directing decisions negatively impacting the team’s future.
As for Marrone, the Jaguars players have spoken highly about their head coach in the past, never indicating an issue in the direction the team was heading as far as the coaching staff, and performed at a high level last week against the Oakland Raiders — a game which meant nothing in terms of playoff aspirations.
Coughlin was hired at the same time as Marrone, meaning the Jaguars head coach has never had the ability to control his team without Coughlin micromanaging him as he has plenty of times in the past.
Keeping both Marrone and Caldwell in Jacksonville for the 2020 season is a possibility, and one that Khan has clearly not ruled out.