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Back to Football Luncheon: “The challenge is there …”

Jacksonville Jaguars Foundation annual Back to Football Luncheon Wednesday, August 29, 2018 in Jacksonville, Fla.  (Rick Wilson/Jacksonville Jaguars)

JACKSONVILLE – Tom Coughlin posed the question.

He gave the answer, too – and the entire exchange was a highlight of the Jaguars 2018 Back to Football Luncheon.

“The question is, ‘What do you feel about last year and then going forward?’’’ the Jaguars’ Executive Vice President of Football Operations told the crowd in the East US Assure Club at TIAA Bank Field early Wednesday afternoon.

“My answer to that is very simple: We’re proud of the progress we made, but we have not gotten the job done the way we hope to get it done. The challenge is there, and we are trying as best we can to meet that challenge.”

Coughlin along with Head Coach Doug Marrone and General Manager David Caldwell participated in a panel discussion during the luncheon, with offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, defensive coordinator Todd Wash and special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis participating in another panel discussion after that.

“When I talk to the team, I’m talking about the foundation and the little goals first before we talk about winning the [AFC] South and obviously being World Champions – which we all aspire to,’’ Marrone said. “Sometimes when you look at the end first you kind of forget about the things you have to do to get there.

“I’m big on building the foundation and taking those little steps first to put us in position for the opportunities that come across. There is a lot of hard work that has to be done and we still have a lot of hard work to do.”

The Jaguars last season won the AFC South for their first division title since 1999, also advancing to the AFC Championship Game for the first time since 1999.

“There are a lot of factors that go into maintaining,” Coughlin said. “Coach Marrone has tried to implement a lot of those factors this fall with our football team, and he has done an outstanding job of that.”

Other highlights Wednesday:

*Wash had fun discussing a recent GQ article in which Jaguars All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey discussed many quarterbacks around the NFL, praising some and speaking “less highly” of others. “We have to do things within our package to challenge them,” Wash said of Ramsey and fellow All-Pro cornerback A.J. Bouye. “We actually play them in three different positions if you look at our defense. We did that in the offseason to basically challenge them.” Wash added with a smile, “Probably the biggest thing is with Jalen: Each week he’s giving us the quarterback presentation since he knows them all so well. That’s another thing we’re going to have him do.” …

*Hackett on quarterback Blake Bortles: “He’s really done a nice job. I remember four years ago when I first met him. Looking at that day compared to where he is now, he’s a completely different person: learning how to grow up in the game, understanding the game. It’s a totally different conversation everyday now.”

*DeCamillis on the importance of the preseason finale against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Thursday night: “I talked about it in a meeting today: I’ve seen guys make it [a roster] this week, and I’ve seen guys get cut this week.”

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