Tom Coughlin

AFC South Notes: Jags, Tannehill, Funchess

As they limp towards the end of their second consecutive disappointing campaign, the Jaguars could be looking at a major organizational overhaul this offseason, as Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports writes. Several members of head coach Doug Marrone‘s staff believe Marrone will be fired at season’s end, and questions remain as to how long team president Tom Coughlin will remain with the club.

Indeed, La Canfora says members of Jacksonville’s front office are just as concerned about their job security as the team’s coaches and are beginning to explore opportunities elsewhere. Owner Shad Khan did consider a significant shakeup last year before opting to retain Marrone, Coughlin, and GM Dave Caldwell, but he may not be as patient this time. If Khan does elect to make a GM change, La Canfora names Scott Pioli as a potential replacement, and Patriots OC Josh McDaniels could be on the short list of replacements for Marrone.

Now for more from the AFC South:

  • The Titans are interested in extending their relationship with quarterback Ryan Tannehill beyond 2019, and as La Canfora writes, the franchise tag could be in play for Tannehill. The tag would come with a roughly $27MM cap hit, but with Tannehill suddenly a hot commodity, the club could hit him with the tag as a precursor to a multi-year pact. Of course, much depends on how Tannehill finishes the season, and while the two sides are unlikely to engage in contract talks in the short term, Tannehill looks set to cash in once the season is over.
  • Despite some hope that veteran wideout Devin Funchess would be returning to the field soon, the Colts have decided to shut him down for the year, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Funchess, who suffered a fractured collarbone during Indianapolis’ Week 1 loss to the Chargers, simply has not healed enough, per Rapoport, who says the plate inserted into the fracture did not work out as hoped. This is a difficult blow for the Colts, who have seen many of their top skill players miss time due to injury this year.
  • The Texans have been in the news a great deal over the last two days. The team placed first-round rookie Tytus Howard on IR on Saturday, and today we learned that the club will operate without a GM in 2020. Houston also got some potentially exciting news, as J.J. Watt could return to the field in time for the playoffs.

Jaguars Coughlin Noncommittal On Marrone’s Future

Jaguars executive vice president of football operations Tom Coughlin held his first press conference in roughly seven months. His answers were short and at time curt with reporters as he pleaded with fans to attend the teams final three home games of the season. The most notable takeaway, however, surrounded the status of current head coach Doug Marrone, according to Michael DiRocco of ESPN.

When asked about whether Marrone was in the team’s plans for the future, Coughlin skirted the question saying the team would focus on that at the end of the season. After Marrone’s first season in Jacksonville, he looked destined to be in charge for the long haul. That season the Jaguars had one of the best defensive units in football that nearly led them to the Super Bowl before a tough loss to the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game. Currently, at 4-7 Marrone is in his second consecutive disappointing season as the head coach in Jacksonville, though, things look a lot different.

This offseason, the team signed quarterback Nick Foles to solidify their offense. However, Foles almost immediately suffered a broken collarbone in his first regular season action. Rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew took the league by storm while Foles recovered, but is far from a dynamic option. The more concerning occurrence for the Jaguars has been the denaturation of their elite defense to one of the more inconsistent units in football.

For what it’s worth, Coughlin was also noncommittal on his own future in Jacksonville. When asked whether he planned on returning to the team, he remained steadfast that all of those decisions would be evaluated and made after the season was over.

Ramsey Fallout: Ravens, Chiefs, Coughlin

Jalen Ramsey returned to action Sunday, and the Rams snapped their losing skid. Here is the latest on how Ramsey got to Los Angeles, and other franchises’ involvement, courtesy of SI.com’s Albert Breer.

  • In addition to the Eagles’ offer of first- and second-round picks, the Ravens resided as a Ramsey finalist, Breer notes. Baltimore and Philadelphia were the top runners-up for the All-Pro cornerback. One reason the Jaguars preferred the Rams‘ offer, other than the first-round picks coming their way: a desire for a “clean” trade that did not come with the Jags parting with draft capital in a pick-swap-style exchange. The Rams agreed to these terms, and it’s unclear if the other teams did. The Ravens were on Ramsey’s list, but hours before the Rams won the pursuit, Baltimore acquired Marcus Peters from the Rams to help facilitate the deal.
  • Both the Chiefs and Raiders were also on Ramsey’s list. While the two AFC West teams were previously reported as meeting with Ramsey’s approval, the Chiefs were not a serious contender to land him. However, it appears they wanted to be. Kansas City would have preferred to be in the Ramsey mix, but no Jacksonville call came as the process progressed, per Breer. The Jags expected the Chiefs’ draft picks to be too low for their liking, perhaps pointing to the Chiefs as being the team that initially offered two first-rounders. It’s unclear if the Raiders were a serious bidder.
  • Ramsey’s issues with the Jaguars‘ front office were all about Tom Coughlin, Breer notes. The third-year executive VP has been known to ruffle feathers, and the old-school leader made comments about certain Jaguars’ lack of attendance at offseason workouts. The Jags informed Ramsey over the summer they would not extend him in 2019, though Breer adds that he was fine playing out this season on his rookie deal. However, the fourth-year cornerback said the last straw was a contentious meeting after the Week 2 Texans game. Coughlin was not with the Jaguars when they drafted Ramsey in 2016.

Jaguars’ Coughlin, Caldwell, Marrone To Return In 2019

The Jaguars apparently won’t be making any sweeping changes this offseason. Owner Shad Khan announced that Tom Coughlin, general manager Dave Caldwell and head coach Doug Marrone will all return in 2019 (via the team’s Twitter account).

“I informed Tom Coughlin this week that I want him to see through our shared goal of bringing a Super Bowl title to Jacksonville,” Khan said in a statement. “Given our overall body of work over the past two seasons, I offered to Tom that I preferred entering the 2019 season with as much stability as reasonable or possible at the top of our football operation. However, those decisions, at all times, are Tom’s decisions, and I would respect any call he made on our general manager and head coach. I am pleased that Tom sees our situation and opportunity similarly, so we will return to work this week fully confident and optimistic with Dave Caldwell as our general manager and Doug Marrone as our head coach.

I have the same trust in Tom, Dave, and Doug as I did upon their introduction two years ago, and I do believe our best path forward for the moment is the one less disruptive and dramatic. Stability should not be confused with satisfaction, however. I am far from content with the status quo and while it’s best to put 2018 behind us, I will not overlook how poorly we accounted for ourselves following a 3-1 start. There were far too many long Sundays over the last three quarters of the season, with today’s loss in Houston being the final example, and that cannot repeat itself in 2019. That’s my message to our football people and players, but also our sponsors and fans, both of whom were remarkable.”

All around, the news isn’t all that surprising. Coughlin, who is serving as the Executive Vice President of Football Operations, all but has free reign over the organization, and he signed an extension back in February that would take him through the 2021 season. Caldwell, who has been the team’s general manager since 2013, also extended his contract through 2021 back in February.

However, there were some whispers that Marrone could find himself on the hot seat. We heard back in November that Marrone was safe, and the organization doubled down on that sentiment last week. There were some rumblings that Coughlin could actually make himself head coach of the Jaguars, but the organization appears to be content rolling with their current head coach. In two-plus seasons with the team, Marrone has helped guide the Jaguars to 16-18 record, and he led the team to an AFC Championship appearance last season.

While key members of the front office and coaching staff will return in 2019, the team could still see some major changes this offseason. The team could decide to find a replacement for quarterback Blake Bortles, and there have also been rumors that they’ll search for a new offensive coordinator. Nathaniel Hackett was fired from the role back in November.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

La Canfora’s Latest: Paton, Coughlin, McCarthy

Vikings assistant GM George Paton has seen his name come up a great deal over the past couple of years as rival clubs sought new general managers, and Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports writes that Paton remains one of the top candidates for teams that will be looking for a GM in 2019. The fact that Paton has withdrawn his name from consideration for GM jobs in the past have suggested to some that he does not want to leave Minnesota, but La Canfora says Paton is indeed open to taking over a franchise next year. Although he declined to interview with the Dolphins in the past, Miami would be a potential landing spot if the team were to make front office changes this offseason.

Now for more from La Canfora’s typically abundant supply of Sunday reports:

  • There have been rumblings that Jaguars team president Tom Coughlin could return to the sidelines and become Jacksonville’s head coach (again) in 2019. La Canfora noted last week that Coughlin could take over as the Jags’ HC, and the fact that the team’s 2018 campaign has been tarnished by fights, suspensions, and lack of discipline could convince Coughlin, a noted disciplinarian, to take the reins. JLC says that there is a “growing perception” around the league that Coughlin will at least consider that move.
  • It has been obvious for some time that 2018 would be Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie‘s last year with the team, and La Canfora reaffirmed as much this morning. In addition to their GM, the Raiders will also be replacing several other members of their scouting and football operations staff, per La Canfora.
  • The Chiefs and Chargers will play each other in a pivotal Week 15 bout this Thursday. La Canfora tweets that Kansas City safety Eric Berry and Los Angeles running back Melvin Gordon will both be on the field for that game, although both are inactive today.
  • La Canfora confirms that former Packers head coach Mike McCarthy will be “very judicious” about his next opportunity and may not return to the sidelines in 2019 if the right opportunity does not present itself. We have already heard that the Jets‘ opening may not be especially appealing to McCarthy, and although his connection with Cleveland GM John Dorsey has led to plenty of speculation that McCarthy could take over as the Browns‘ HC, La Canfora says the Panthers and Ravens gigs — should they open up — are more intriguing to McCarthy. Sources close to McCarthy say they do not expect him to land in Cleveland.
  • Former Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt is undergoing counseling for anger management and alcohol use, and he is also being mentored by a pastor and attending women’s group sessions as he attempts to prove to the league that he is ready for another opportunity. La Canfora says that no one is expected to sign Hunt until the league announces his suspension for three separate incidents, but that several teams have already reached out to him and will continue to monitor his progress and recovery. JLC’s sources say they expect Hunt to play in 2019, and Hunt himself is reportedly eager to assist the league in its investigations.

Extra Points: Jaguars, Coughlin, Ravens, Giants, Lauletta, Hunt

It’s been a rough year for the Jaguars. After making the AFC Championship game last year, they were supposed to be contenders again in 2018 but nothing has gone according to plan. They were just 3-8 entering today, and benched Blake Bortles for Cody Kessler while firing their offensive coordinator. While they squeaked out a 6-0 victory over the Colts, major changes are still coming this offseason, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports.

La Canfora says that “sweeping changes are inevitable, which may include coaching and front-office moves”, and cites “multiple NFL salary cap executives” who say the team will need to “gut its roster” because of their cap situation. Jacksonville has spent big on free agents the past couple of years to build the team, but La Canfora writes their win-now window is “now effectively closed”, and they’ll have to start dumping the high-priced veterans soon. La Canfora seems to think head coach Doug Marrone‘s job is in danger, and notes that team president Tom Coughlin could “consider a return to the sidelines” to lead the team. Whatever happens, the Jaguars will be one of the most interesting teams to monitor this offseason.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Ravens coach John Harbaugh may have saved his own job with the team’s recent three game winning streak, but he could be losing one of his assistants soon. Baltimore’s defensive line coach Joe Cullen interviewed for the head coaching job at UMass, and is considered a “top candidate” for the position, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link). Cullen played at UMass in the 80’s, and was an assistant coach there in the early 90’s. He’s coordinated at Indiana and Richmond, but has always been a defensive line coach at the NFL level.
  • Although Eli Manning has played a lot better recently and the Giants have now won three of four games, the team still plans to get rookie quarterback Kyle Lauletta in a game at some point, according to Ralph Vacchiano of SNY (Twitter link). Vacchiano notes that it may only come in the second half of a blowout game and not a start, but that the team wants to get a look at him either way.
  • It’s been speculated that a team might claim Kareem Hunt off waivers in order to get him on his cheap rookie contract that has him locked up through 2020, but “multiple executives” told Adam Schefter of ESPN.com that Hunt is likely to go unclaimed on waivers. While one GM told Schefter there’s “no chance” he gets claimed, it still wouldn’t be a shock if he does. While he’s likely facing a lengthy suspension, Reuben Foster is also facing a lengthy suspension and got claimed even though he’s making significantly more money than Hunt.

 

South Notes: Jags, Colts, Glennon, Falcons

After their most successful season this century, the Jaguars are firmly committed to their power structure. The Tom Coughlin/Dave Caldwell/Doug Marrone triumvirate is now signed through 2021 after the extensions announced Friday, and this season looks to have played a key part in Shad Khan‘s decision. The owner approached his top staffers about these extensions shortly after the Jags’ AFC championship game loss to the Patriots, Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union reports.

For Caldwell, this marks the second two-year extension in as many offseasons. The GM signed one in January 2017 on the same day he was stripped of some of his decision-making abilities, but he’ll continue to work with Coughlin for the foreseeable future. This comes after some in league circles believed Coughlin would attempt to push Caldwell out of the picture, per O’Halloran, if last season did not go well. In particular, Blake Bortles‘ play was key in this scenario, O’Halloran writes. Caldwell had overseen four straight losing seasons since taking over the Jags’ reins in 2013.

Here’s the latest out of the South divisions:

  • The Colts continue to add to Frank Reich‘s first staff. They’ve hired Tom Manning as their tight ends coach, reports Tommy Birch of The Des Moines Register. The former Iowa State offensive coordinator led the Cyclones to two of the best offensive seasons in team history. He previously served as the offensive line coach at Toledo and Mount Union.
  • Regarding Reich’s first offense, Stephen Holder of the Indianapolis Star notes it’s expected to be a significant change from Rob Chudzinski‘s attack. Reich is expected to install an uptempo setup to help a Colts offense that ranked 31st last season. However, Andrew Luck being at the controls had the Colts at No. 10 offensively in 2016. So, improvement will largely come from Indianapolis’ starter being back in the fold.
  • A Buccaneers/Mike Glennon reunion will likely be on the Tampa Bay brass’ radar, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times writes. The Bears are expected to cut Glennon, whom Mitch Trubisky quickly supplanted in Chicago’s starting lineup, and Stroud notes the Bucs will be watching carefully to see if their former backup will wind up in need of a job. Glennon served as Jameis Winston‘s backup in 2015 and ’16, and with a possible suspension for Winston looming because of an alleged groping of an Uber driver, Stroud notes Tampa Bay’s backup could play a key role in the 2018 season. The Bucs were ready to pay Glennon like a top-market backup at $8MM per year, but the Bears’ offer easily won out last March.
  • Sean Weatherspoon has played in just six games for the Falcons the past two seasons and has missed all five of Atlanta’s playoff contests in that span. The 30-year-old linebacker is now a free agent. He would like to return to Atlanta but acknowledged a connection to former Missouri defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus, who now has a first-time opportunity as an NFL DC with the Colts. “My college coach, who recruited me to Missouri, is the (defensive) coordinator for the Colts now,” Weatherspoon said, via D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “There are a lot of things, I love Atlanta, but I’m just looking for an opportunity. I’d love to be here. If things work out, this is where I’ll be.” Prior to his injury trouble during his second Falcons stint, the former first-round pick started 40 games with the Falcons from 2010-13. Given where he is in his career, Weatherspoon would likely be available for the veteran minimum.

Ben Levine contributed to this report.

Jaguars Extend Coughlin, Marrone, Caldwell

The Jaguars have locked up executive vice president Tom Coughlin, GM Dave Caldwell, coach Doug Marrone with new two-year extensions, according to a team announcements. The fresh deals will keep all three men in place through the 2021 season. Tom Coughlin (Vertical)

Coughlin, pictured here in his best gardening gear, joined Jacksonville last January. The Jags proceeded to shock the world by going from a 3-13 record in 2016 to 10-6 in 2017 and nearly defeating the Patriots in the AFC Championship game. This year, the Jaguars will look improve on their success and reach their first ever Super Bowl.

The decision to extend the contracts of Tom, Dave, and Doug isn’t so much a reward for last season, which no doubt was impressive, as it is to recognize their important to our football team this coming season and for years to follow,” owner Shad Khan said in a statement. “We’re past celebrating the accomplishments of our division title and playoff run, and now it’s time to take the next step. We need the right leadership firmly in place to make that happen, and it’s good to know that we’ll have that with Tom, Dave, and Doug secure in their roles with the Jacksonville Jaguars.”

Marrone initially joined the Jaguars as their assistant head coach/offensive line coach in 2015 on Gus Bradley‘s staff. Marrone was appointed as the team’s interim head coach when Bradley was canned near the end of the season and had his interim tag removed on the same day that Coughlin was hired. Marrone wasn’t necessarily the sexiest choice after his awkward exit from Buffalo a few years back, but he was clearly the right pick.

Caldwell remains the team’s GM, but Coughlin has final say over the team’s 53-man roster. Coughlin reportedly did not ask for total roster control when he signed on last year, but Khan strongly felt that it was the right move. For his part, Caldwell has been a good sport about the structural change.

I think Dave’s done a great job on talent, but he’s a young guy. I think he can learn lot from Tom. There might be a natural human emotion [from Caldwell] of, ‘Gee …’ but I think if you look at what’s best for the Jaguars, I think this is the structure,” Khan said last winter. “Dave gets to do the talent, and I think he’s worked hard. It’s, ‘How do we get more wins?’

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Giants’ Pat Shurmur Hire

A difference between how Pat Shurmur approached his Giants interview helped land him the job. The former Vikings OC conducted his Giants meeting in a fashion that left no doubt the Giants were his first choice, which is something, per Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv, team management couldn’t see in Josh McDaniels or Matt Patricia.

While Vacchiano reports some in the Giants’ organization preferred the two Patriots coordinators to Shurmur “until the very end,” he notes Shurmur left “by far” the strongest first impression on the Giants of the candidates summoned. One of the reasons management was sold on Shurmur was his desire to land the Giants’ job was far more evident than the other finalists’. Vacchiano writes McDaniels appeared to be more interested in the Colts’ job because of Andrew Luck‘s presence, and Patricia’s Lions connection turned out to be very real.

Multiple sources informed Vacchiano that Shurmur was at one point viewed as the favorite in Arizona and that his personality would work better there, but the former Browns coach, per the Giants, was intent on securing the New York job.

Shurmur’s interview, one John Mara ranked as arguably the best he’s seen, resulted in him edging the New England assistants after they’d been viewed as previous favorites. Shurmur also made the strongest connection with Dave Gettleman of the six candidates interviewed, which is interesting given Steve Wilks‘ history with the new Giants GM. Vacchiano notes Jerry Reese and Tom Coughlin did not see eye to eye on key components of the team in their final years together, with a specific disagreement involving the team’s offensive line approach, and adds Mara appeared to indicate Reese and Ben McAdoo weren’t meshing as well as they’d hoped to.

Mara indicated a head coach/GM partnership was critical here, and Shurmur — who made a point of saying how much stock he places in repairing the Giants’ offensive front — appears to be in stride with Gettleman at this point.

Mara previously said he wanted a head coach with previous experience leading a team, and Vacchiano reports Shurmur was “much more willing” to accept his wrongdoings from his first job (with the 2011-12 Browns) than McDaniels (fired midway through his second Broncos season in 2010) was. Shurmur made clear he will hire an offensive coordinator, identifying that as a mistake from his first Cleveland campaign. The Giants ultimately ruled out Wilks because of his lack of experience.

Shurmur also spoke with Eli Manning on the phone on Wednesday from the Senior Bowl and then sat down with the franchise passer in the Giants’ cafeteria on Friday, Paul Schwartz of the New York Post reports. Considering Gettleman’s praise for Manning, and what Shurmur offered about the quarterback’s future at his press conference, it’s starting to look like a strong bet he will be back in New York for his age-37 season.

Schwartz writes Shurmur’s approach with Manning differs from Coughlin’s with Kerry Collins, whom the Giants replaced with Manning in 2004. Coughlin ignored Collins when they saw each other at the facility during the months his and Collins’ tenures overlapped in ’04, Schwartz recalls.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jaguars Notes: Coughlin, Ramsey, Jack

Here’s a look at the Jaguars as they gear up for the most important game in nearly two decades:

  • Last year, Jaguars owner Shad Khan wanted to hire Tom Coughlin as the team’s chief decision maker and make then interim head coach Doug Marrone the team’s full-time HC. He feared putting the two in a “forced marriage,” but Coughlin independently named Marrone as his top choice for the role, Jarrett Bell of USA Today writes. It’s an unusual arrangement, but Marrone says that he does not mind operating in Coughlin’s shadow. “I’ve never been the boss, just so you know,” he said. “I’ve got one at home, and when I go home with my wife, my father-in-law (James “Boots” Donnelly, the longtime football coach at Middle Tennessee) is the boss. Or my mother-in-law, depending on the situation. When I visit my parents, they’re the boss. I’m never the boss. So it’s the same.”
  • The culture change in Jacksonville is a big reason for the Jaguars’ success, but the team’s 2016 draft under Dave Caldwell should not be discounted, as Michael DiRocco of ESPN.com writes. In that year, the Jaguars selected Jalen Ramsey (No. 5 overall), linebacker Myles Jack (No. 36) and defensive end Yannick Ngakoue (No. 69). With those picks, the Jags came away with a first-team All-Pro, a starting linebacker, and one of the league’s top young pass-rushers. Of course, the team’s 2017 free agent class – including defensive end Calais Campbell, cornerback A.J. Bouye, and safety Barry Church – is also a big reason for the team’s surprising playoff run.
  • Earlier this week, the Jaguars auditioned Brock Miller, but that was probably just to give Jacksonville some practice against a left-footed punter in preparation for Ryan Allen of the Pats.