JACKSONVILLE – Tom Coughlin rarely speaks without something to say.
One of the things the Jaguars’ Executive Vice President of Football Operations had to say Wednesday was this:
What has happened this season thus far isn’t good enough.
But this season isn’t over yet.
“To be clear, there are no excuses,” Coughlin said as the Jaguars (4-7) prepared to play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-7) at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville Sunday at 1 p.m.
“Everyone in this organization is capable of doing more to help us win. Everyone. It’s a five-game season. All hands on deck. Leave it all on the field. There are no excuses.”
Coughlin, in his third season as the EVP of Football Ops, spoke for about 13 minutes Wednesday. The availability marked his first extensive comments to Jacksonville media this season. Coughlin opened with a speech outlining multiple topics, including the need for “the 12th Man advantage” in the final five games.
“We need everyone on board, and all pulling in the same direction – and by everyone, I mean ownership, organization, coaches, players, scouts, staff, our great fans and our entire community,” he said. “Everyone must be on board to help us win.”
Coughlin made a point to speak to Jaguars fans, saying: “We need you very badly. In my opinion, we’ve been on the road for three straight weeks and it hasn’t been pretty. We need to get home. We need to get our whole thing going in our stadium and [need] support from everyone.
“It’s not a time to duck your head, stick your head in the sand. We all know what the circumstances are, but these are young men. They know when they’re being supported and when some extension of love is being sent their way. They will respond. We all need to do that. …
“We need you now. There’s still a chance to have a winning product. A lot of good things have to happen in the past five weeks.”
Coughlin also outlined multiple positives about the season and areas that need to improve before answering questions. He answered many of those questions with quick, declarative sentences, but was expansive when asked why he chose to address media and fans 11 games into the season.
“Here’s what I would say: You know my philosophy is the head coach is the voice of the program,” Coughlin said, also specifying that he was not told to speak Wednesday. “I feel at this point in time that I’m needed to speak.
“[Head Coach] Doug [Marrone] has come before you with his message literally every day since the start of the season. If I can help reinforce that message, then that’s why I’m here. We’re all in this together. We’re all battling. We all want to win.”
Coughlin answered many specific questions – including one about his future with the organization – by saying that five games remain this season. He said the same about Marrone’s status next season, and about a potential contract extension for defensive end Yannick Ngakoue.
“We have five games to play, and everyone has a lot to prove,” Coughlin said.
Coughlin in his speech specified the organization realized it hadn’t performed to expectations this season, specifically in the second half of the last three games. The Jaguars were outscored 52-8 in the third quarter of those games, losses to AFC South rivals Houston (26-3), Indianapolis (33-13) and Tennessee (42-20).
“I offer no excuses,” Coughlin said, adding that he understands fans’ frustration – and that the organization shares that frustration.
Coughlin also added that the Jaguars with five games remaining “are committed to do our very best to prepare, to practice and to put ourselves in the best possible position to win five games one game at a time.”
“Is this a great challenge? Yes it is,” Coughlin said. “Will it be easy? Of course not. Doug Marrone has developed open lines of communication with this team. The players’ attitude is good and our players and coaches look forward to this challenge. …
“You’ve got to keep chipping away. There’s no other way around it. It’s hard work. When you watch them practice, and when you see them come out on the field, you know. When you look at [quarterback Nick] Foles, you know what he wants to do. He wants to win, for sure. And everyone else out there, too. I’ve liked that part about this team.”