Coughlin: 'We rolled our sleeves up'

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ORLANDO – As Tom Coughlin saw it, the approach was strikingly basic.

Coughlin on Tuesday spoke to Jacksonville media for the first time since the end of his first season as the Jaguars' Executive Vice President of Football Operations. He covered a variety of topics, including future expectations in the wake of the team's most successful season in nearly two decades.

Among the topics:

The working relationship between he, Head Coach Doug Marrone and General Manager David Caldwell during their first year working together. Coughlin said it involved nothing fancy or complex.

"We basically rolled our sleeves up; there was no great philosophical discussion," Coughlin said Tuesday during the 2018 NFL Annual League Meeting at the Ritz-Carlton Grand Lakes, Orlando.

Coughlin, who coached the Jaguars to four playoff appearances during his tenure as head coach from 1994-2002, took over his current role last January. The Jaguars in the first season under Coughlin/Marrone/Caldwell won their first division title since 1999, when Coughlin coached the team to the AFC Central title and a spot in the AFC Championship Game.

The Jaguars' appearance in the AFC Championship Game this past season was their first since the '99 season under Coughlin.

"I knew exactly what Doug was all about and Dave and I knew what we wanted to do in terms of trying to provide the kind of players that we were looking for in Jacksonville," Coughlin said. "We wanted to run the football, we wanted to have an outstanding defensive team. We went out and did some things about that to create those opportunities.

"Yeah, we rolled our sleeves up, went to work and it was a team concept all the way."

Coughlin, who coached the New York Giants to two Super Bowls during a 12-year tenure as head coach with that organization from 2004-2015, was asked to assess his impact on the Jaguars last season.

"I don't know, you'll have to assess that," he said. "I'm just working; a working man."

Coughlin, after spending his career coaching from the sidelines, observed Jaguars games from the press box during the '18 season. He alluded to the new game-day position when asked if he enjoyed his role with the Jaguars this past season.

"I enjoyed the winning," he said, adding with a laugh: "I didn't like the press box. The window in front of me got messed up a few times."

He also added that he enjoyed working with Marrone and Caldwell.

"I basically was on the practice field for every practice," Coughlin said. "I was in the Saturday night meetings. I did everything I normally do. I prepared just as if I was in that coaching spot. And I would do things … like Doug might ask me to look at something and prepare a tape for him to look at and I would do that, so I enjoyed all that."

Coughlin also on Tuesday said he and Caldwell meshed when it came to a philosophy for last offseason. While the Jaguars had spent cautiously at times in free agency during Caldwell's early years as general manager from 2013-2015, the team improved its roster dramatically in the 2017 offseason when it added defensive end Calais Campbell, cornerback A.J. Bouye and safety Barry Church. Those players were key to a Jaguars defense that ranked No. 2 in the NFL last season.

Coughlin said Caldwell's managing of the cap early in Caldwell's time with the team enabled last off-season's aggressive game-plan.

"You can't make the kind of moves you want to make unless you do have cap room," Coughlin said.  "That was very attractive to me and Dave knew it was time for us to go – and as I said, we rolled our sleeves up. There weren't any deep philosophical chats about that either. Let's go get the players that can help us win."

Coughlin on Tuesday also was asked if expectations from last season's success would change anything moving forward.

"Non-negotiable expectations from within; that's all we look at," he said. "Our expectations are very high and anybody that comes on board has to understand there's a way to accomplish what we're trying to accomplish and it's through team, it's through individual improvement and it's through a relentless drive in team success."

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