They are the only two coaches the Jaguars franchise has ever known and they each desperately need to win Sunday's game.
Tom Coughlin led the Jaguars to two AFC title games in the first five years of the Jaguars' existence. He was replaced by Jack Del Rio in 2003 and Del Rio is trying to get the team back into the playoffs following two non-playoff seasons.
"I know that Tom left me a team with great work ethic and we've sought to maintain that and I believe we have. I believe the 16 years this franchise has been together, I think you've had teams that know what it looks like to work hard and work with discipline," Del Rio said. "I'm looking forward to the matchup because it's a game we have to have. We know it's going to be a heckuva challenge."
On paper, the Jaguars' task appears daunting. Coughlin's Giants are third in the league in offense and second in defense. They are fifth in rushing, seventh in passing, fourth in run-defense, third in pass-defense and, here's the most frightening stat of all: The Giants have sacked opposing quarterbacks 27 times.
How does a team that's 20th on offense and 27th on defense and has lost its star pass-rusher for the season win a matchup such as the one the Jaguars will be facing this Sunday at New Meadowlands Stadium? Well, here's what the Jaguars have going for them:
- The Giants will be without their two top receivers, Hakeem Nicks and Steve Smith, who have combined for 109 receptions, 1,317 yards and 12 touchdowns. That's a lot of offense to lose.
- Though the Jaguars' rankings are unimpressive, most of the damage was done in early-season blowouts and the Jaguars are currently playing at a much higher level than their rankings would suggest.
- The Jags are on a three-game winning streak; the Giants are on a two-game losing streak.
Going against the Jaguars will be the loss of left tackle Eugene Monroe, who failed his concussion physical on Friday and was ruled "out" for Sunday's game. Del Rio wouldn't divulge his plans for replacing Monroe, but the options would include journeymen Guy Whimper and Adam Terry and rookie Kevin Haslam.
"We felt it was going to be a problem area whether Eugene played or not, so it just became more of a problem area. It's going to require some attention," Del Rio said of blocking star pass-rusher Osi Umenyiora, who leads the Giants with eight sacks.
At 6-4, the Jags might need a win to stay in the AFC South lead. The 6-4 Colts host the Chargers on Sunday night.
Coughlin's 6-4 Giants are a game behind the Eagles in the NFC East and don't dare fall farther behind or they'll risk not being able to draw even with the Eagles when the two teams meet in New York on Dec. 19. The Giants also have a trip to Green Bay remaining on their schedule.
"We're in the middle of this thing right now; the bullets are flying, we're all cranked up. We've got a lot of coaching to do to keep our team where we want it to be and that's about all I ever think about right now," Coughlin said.
The Jags have their own troubles at wide receiver, where Mike Sims-Walker continues to battle a significant ankle sprain and is questionable for Sunday's game. He was replaced in the lineup by Tiquan Underwood last week but Underwood had a nightmarish afternoon of drops and will not retain his role. Kassim Osgood, John Matthews and Jason Hill are all candidates to replace Sims-Walker this week.