Tom Coughlin

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.

Latest On Giants’ Coach, GM Search

Ben McAdoo‘s stint in New York was short and ended without a championship, but he did make history in his own way. McAdoo was at the helm for just 28 regular-season games, giving him the lowest total by a Giants head coach since 1930 (as noted by Adam Schefter of ESPN.com, via Twitter). In that season, Benny Friedman spent two games as a co-player-coach.

Starting today, the Giants are officially looking to fill vacancies at head coach and GM. Here’s the latest out of New York/New Jersey:

  • Giants owner John Mara says his “very strong preference” is to have a separate head coach and GM. However, he does not rule out a dual role if the right candidate emerges (Twitter link via Ralph Vacchiano of SNY).
  • Mara says that both interim hires (GM Kevin Abrams and head coach Steve Spagnuolo) will be interviewed for the full-time jobs (Twitter link via Aditi Kinkhabwala of NFL.com). Personally, I don’t think the odds are in Spagnuolo’s favor, even though he is well-regarded by the organization. After a disastrous 2017 season, it seems more likely that the Giants will opt for a reset when it comes to the next head coach.
  • Reese was not responsible for the firing of Tom Coughlin and subsequent hiring of McAdoo, Kinkhabwala tweets. When Coughlin was fired, Reese advocated for two candidates over McAdoo.
  • Former Giants GM Ernie Accorsi has agreed to serve as a consultant in the GM search, Mara announced (Twitter link via team). The owner added that it is possible that a GM hire will be made before the season is through, noting that the team already has some names in mind (Twitter link via Kinkhabwala).
  • Mara says that McAdoo is the one who initially came up with the plan to bench Eli Manning (Twitter link via ESPN.com’s Josina Anderson).

Fallout From Eli Manning Benching

The second-longest start streak in quarterback history will come to an end after the Giants decided to bench Eli Manning in favor of Geno Smith. This naturally leads to speculation that the 36-year-old quarterback has played his final down with the team. In his Tuesday press conference, Ben McAdoo did not specify the role Jerry Reese and John Mara played in making the move to bench Manning, via Ed Werder (on Twitter). McAdoo merely said all parties were in agreement. The second-year Giants coach also said the team is not considering waiving Manning, who has two years and more than $40MM remaining on his contract. Smith is not under contract beyond 2017.

Here’s more from the Giants cutting the cord on Manning after 210 starts.

  • Tom Coughlin came out in support of his former quarterback and said he was “very upset” to hear the news Manning had been benched. “My sentiments are totally with Eli Manning,” the Jaguars‘ executive VP said (via NFL.com’s Mike Garafolo, on Twitter). “I love the kid. He is a class act. He is a two-time Super Bowl champion. He is the finest, most humblest young man in that locker room. I haven’t followed the Giants. I know it’s a disappointing year by my thoughts are strictly with Eli. I’m very upset about when I heard that.” This stands to naturally fuel buzz about Manning being a 2018 Jaguars target. Coughlin running the Jags, who can cut bait on Blake Bortles‘ non-guaranteed 2018 option before free agency, and their rebuilt defense thriving makes north Florida a logical fit.
  • Manning has a no-trade clause in his contract, but after Tuesday’s events, the two-time Super Bowl MVP may be more inclined to waive it for a chance at another starting job. Conor Orr of SI.com lists the Jaguars as a fit, while placing the Broncos and Cardinals as the other top two destinations. The Broncos are in a similar place to the Jags, only with their quarterback woes having removed them from a Super Bowl perch, and the Cardinals will likely again be waiting on a Carson Palmer retirement decision. The Palmer-to-Manning switch would be interesting given that Palmer is only a month older than Manning.
  • As for a Manning/Coughlin reunion, Joel Corry of CBS Sports tweets the Jags could create $19MM in cap space by cutting Bortles after this season. That option doesn’t become fully guaranteed until Day 5 of the 2018 league year (March 14). Prior to a Bortles cut, the Jags have just more than $30MM in projected 2018 cap space. The Broncos have $32MM-plus, and the Cardinals — with Palmer’s 2018 salary on their books as of now — stand to hold more than $35MM.
  • This decision was certainly brought down from higher than McAdoo, Dan Graziano of ESPN.com writes, and the current HC feels like the next scapegoat for the Giants’ woeful season. Reese should be on the chopping block as well, Graziano writes, noting that were that to happen, there would be front office and scouting department turnover as well as a likely McAdoo ouster.
  • Manning will be due a $5MM roster bonus on March 14 if he’s still on the Giants, per Field Yates of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Yates adds the Giants can save $9.8MM if Manning is cut or traded, but they’ll be taking on $12.4MM in that scenario. Manning has a $22.2MM cap figure in 2018 and a $23.2MM number in ’19. Manning’s $10.5MM base salary next season is non-guaranteed.

Coughlin: Jaguars Never Interested In Kaepernick

When the Jaguars opened up their quarterback competition in August (only to close it again one week later), there was some speculation that Jacksonville could look into signing free agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick. That speculation was fueled in part by club owner Shad Khan, who said that he would “absolutely” be okay with his team signing Kaepernick if his football people recommended him.

Colin Kaepernick (vertical)

That never happened, and when Blake Bortles was named the starting quarterback last week, the Kaepernick-to-Jacksonville chatter, such as it was, died down. But unless Bortles flashes some hitherto unsuspected ability, the Jaguars will still have a glaring need at the quarterback position. Indeed, the club has enough talent that it could conceivably make a playoff push in a shaky AFC South if it can get consistent QB play, and some believe that Kaepernick would represent enough of an upgrade to get the Jags back to the postseason.

However, executive vice president of football operations Tom Coughlin has emphatically quashed the Kaepernick discussion. When asked if he ever considered Kaepernick, Coughlin said, “No, I didn’t. We did the study and the research and we weren’t interested.” When asked for his reasoning, Coughlin said, “No, I’m not explaining it. I just said what it is” (Twitter link via Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union).

Of course, this will be construed in some segments as an unenlightened decision to decline adding a player that might improve the club because that player took advantage of his freedom of expression and alienated a large portion of the NFL’s fanbase in the process. And maybe that segment would be right. But Coughlin is an intelligent football man, and as Kaepernick is a system quarterback whose salary demands and current commitment to football are largely unknown, it is fair to think that Coughlin’s decision was football-driven.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Rumors: Osweiler, Flacco, Bills, Jaguars

Earlier this week, Joe Thomas was asked if he could name all 18 quarterbacks the Browns have started during his tenure. The perennial All-Pro left tackle passed the test, and with Cody Kessler having been demoted to third string for now, that number figures to expand to at least 19 this season. Thomas believes the other veteran in the clubhouse will be the Week 1 starter.

I might be going out on a limb here, but I think they’re grooming Brock (Osweiler) to be the starter in Week 1 based on what I’ve seen,” Thomas said, via the Associated Press’ Tom Withers. “It is a competition, but I would expect Brock to win because of his experience.”

Osweiler’s primary competition is now DeShone Kizer, the team’s second-round pick who fared well against Saints backups in the Browns’ preseason opener. Kizer remains in the mix due to a combination of physical skills and instincts for the position, Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com notes.

Here’s the latest out of the AFC:

  • John Harbaugh, per Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com, said Joe Flacco won’t practice this coming week as the Ravens starting quarterback continues to recover from a back injury. This will mean four straight weeks without practice for the 10th-year passer, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport points out (via Twitter). The plan remains for Flacco to start in Week 1 against the Bengals, but if the 32-year-old signal-caller doesn’t practice during Week 3 of the preseason, the Baltimore Sun’s Jeff Zreibec notes (on Twitter) Flacco will get two weeks at most of work before the Baltimore opener. And Zreibec is skeptical he will get that much work (Twitter link).
  • Reggie Ragland has yet to assimilate well into Sean McDermott‘s scheme, and Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News expects the Bills to attempt to trade the ex-Alabama stalwart. Carucci notes a trade to a team that uses a 3-4 defense would make sense. Buffalo has shifted to a 4-3, and the 2016 second-round pick’s current status — stationed on the third team — is not exactly acceptable for such a big recent investment. PFR’s Dallas Robinson put Ragland on his list of trade candidates.
  • Should Cordy Glenn‘s foot trouble linger much longer, Carucci expects the Bills to target outside tackle help. Specifying the waiver wire as the player-procurement practice of choice to add a tackle, Carucci notes second-round rookie Dion Dawkins would be the top in-house option to start there if Glenn is unable to man his post. After Austin Pasztor‘s Falcons agreement, the tackle market looks thin. McDermott said (via Mike Rodak of ESPN.com) he’s not quite ready to relocate Dawkins from the right tackle competition, where he’s battling incumbent Jordan Mills. However, Dawkins took left-edge reps Friday in practice, while Seantrel Henderson — suspended for the season’s first five games — lined up at right tackle.
  • Tom Coughlin‘s brought some old-school training techniques to Jaguars camp. Albert Breer of SI.com observed the Jags doing up-downs following their joint practice with the Patriots, and this didn’t sit well with some Jacksonville players. One told Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio the rarely utilized conditioning method will shorten his career “by at least two years.” While that may be an extreme estimate, Florio adds other Jaguars have grumbled about the throwback conditioning style. Florio notes Coughlin is believed to have pushed for a greater conditioning emphasis.

NFLPA Probing Jaguars For CBA Violation

Tom Coughlin‘s return to Jacksonville may encounter some mild turbulence this offseason. A letter from the new Jaguars executive VP to several players is now the subject of an NFLPA investigation, with Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union reporting a possible CBA violation occurred this month.

Coughlin sent a letter to several Jaguars players currently under contract saying they needed to report to the team’s facility for a physical earlier this month. However, the Jags do not begin their offseason program until April 10, and multiple sources informed O’Halloran the league’s CBA does not permit this request.

A player who does not live in Jacksonville who balked at paying his own travel expenses to return for this surprise request is believed to have notified his agent, who then alerted the NFLPA, per O’Halloran. Jags players are not allowed at their facility until that April date. Several players, though, were advised by their agents to follow through with the physical even as the investigation transpires. O’Halloran reports a possible punishment for the franchise will be the forfeiture of an OTA this spring.

This potential violation, though, does not appear to be as severe as the one the Ravens were found guilty of last year. Baltimore had to forfeit a week’s worth of OTAs for its practice-related infraction last year. The Seahawks and Falcons will also have fewer than the allowed 10 OTA sessions this year due to violations.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Shad Khan On Coughlin, Caldwell, HC Search

During interviews with the franchise’s first head coach, Shad Khan said Tom Coughlin did not ask for control over the Jaguars’ 53-man roster. But the owner gave it to the former Jags and Giants HC despite Coughlin not having any NFL executive experience.

For this thing to work, Tom can’t be a hood ornament,” Khan said, via Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union. “For him to contribute, he has to have some authority and this is one way of giving him the authority. In all fairness, he never asked for it. The more I thought about it and reflected on it, he doesn’t want to be a pencil-pushing executive. We want his experience and his judgment to help the Jags win.”

This will mean a lesser role for GM Dave Caldwell, who will sink a notch lower on the Jags’ totem pole behind the franchise’s new executive vice president. Khan respects the way Caldwell constructed the roster while noting the 42-year-old executive could learn from the 70-year-old Coughlin.

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, via John Oehser of Jaguars.com. “Dave gets to do the talent, and I think he’s worked hard. It’s, ‘How do we get more wins?’

Khan acknowledged the disparity between the interest in the Jaguars’ HC job in 2013 compared to the 2016-17 search that ended with interim HC Doug Marrone in the top sideline spot. While promoting the interim HC doesn’t sound as glamorous as hiring then-Seahawks DC Gus Bradley, Khan, via Oehser, pointed to the talent on the roster making a different impression this time around. The Jaguars have not won more than five games in a season since 2010 but were a trendy pick to make some noise last season.

I think the big difference was we had a huge amount of interest this time around. The most important thing was really getting it down to the short list [of candidates], and literally anybody and everybody we wanted to talk to was interested. It also confirmed that we do have the talent. Otherwise there wouldn’t be the interest. Four years ago that was the common thread – that ‘you guys are so far [from contending]’ that they [candidates] could get something more to their liking. This time around we had the talent and we had the interest.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.