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Coughlin's energy level soaring


The coach was on fire. This was the best Tuesday of his season; the only Tuesday of his season not dedicated to 16 hours of game-planning. Better yet, his team was less than 48 hours removed from its most stirring victory, a win that pumped life and hope back into a football team that was had been left for dead.

If nothing beats a bye week coming off a win and followed by a home game, then this is the king of all bye weeks.

Tom Coughlin greeted his weekly interviewer with eagerness. He wanted to talk about his team. He wanted to talk about football. He was in love with both, again. It was nice to see.

The reporter was happy, too. If nothing beats a Q&A with a coach who wants to talk, then this was the king of all Q&A days.

Long live the king.

Coughlin was effusive in his praise of the young, plug-in players who turned in big-play performances in the Jaguars' 23-17 overtime win in Dallas Sunday. He talked about getting front-line players healthy during the bye week and getting them back for the final seven games of the season, but not wanting them back unless they were prepared to play as hard as the young plug-ins did in Dallas.

"You've got to play hard," Coughlin said, more than a couple of times.

His mood was charged, and he talked about the manner in which his Jaguars defeated the Cowboys. He liked that most of all; ran the ball, didn't turn it over, protected the quarterback. Coughlin liked the fact that his team's performance went according to script.

It has long been said that teams take on the personalities of their coaches. If that's true, the Jaguars are headed for an energy make-over. Yeah, the coach is always intense, even on vacation, but his energy levels are such that his team may be the best bet in the league when they host the Seahawks on Nov. 12.

"We moved the ball because we ran the ball," Coughlin said of the win in Dallas, citing Fred Taylor's 107 yards rushing on 31 carries. "Fred established something. There were no long gains there. His yardage was real yardage. Thirty-one carries, 3.5 yards per carry. You know what that is?" Coughlin asked, then he pounded his fist into an open hand repeatedly.

Yeah, that's pounding. "They didn't know when we were going to throw," Coughlin said.

The walls inside the Jaguars' corporate offices this week ooze a little more esteem than they had for five previous weeks. The walls appear to be a little stronger, imposing. All of a sudden, One Alltel Stadium Place is a prestigious address, again.

Yes, this team has new energy. It's talking about recovery. It's talking about winning the rest of its games. There is even veiled conversation about making the playoffs.

"You talk about putting a winning string of games together, then maybe, if you scratch your way back, and if you somehow, someway qualify for the second season, it's anybody's ballgame," the coach said, daring to talk of the playoffs and beyond.

Soon, we'll begin finding out if it's just talk. Will Coughlin's players buy into their coach's beliefs? Will they acquire his energy? Can this season be reclaimed?

Coughlin believes it can happen.

"If you can get it going, you can start believing," he said.

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