Join Jaguars Inside Report Senior Editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.
Kevin from Jacksonville:
Since the Jaguars are 0-1 and do not appear to be favored until Oct. 27 against Houston, this question has popped into my mind. How many wins must Coughlin have to keep his job? Three, four? I mean, if they split with Houston and finish 1-15 or 2-14 and he keeps his job, what message does that send to fans when we had a playoff coach lose a job last year? I know you work for the Jaguars and you have to be a company man, but what is your take? I believe you will reply with "I just want to see young player improvement regardless of the record. If we can identify young players and build them, who cares about record." But will the fans accept Coughlin being responsible for a first or second pick in the draft? Should he be the one to build young players? His handling of Damon Gibson has demonstrated to me his fuse is still short.
Vic: Kevin, if you ever refer to me again as a "company man," you will never have another question answered in this column. I'm a journalist and I believe I've established my credibility during the 30 years I've covered this league. Now, for your questions: Obviously, coaches are paid to win. I can't tell you how many games Tom Coughlin has to win to keep his job. I can tell you the more games any coach loses, the closer he gets to losing his job. Coughlin and Wayne Weaver have refused to refer to this season as a "rebuilding" year. I don't agree and I've said time and again that, in my opinion, this is clearly a rebuilding season and should be approached that way. That's why I've repeatedly said player development, not the record, should be the priority. That's how I'll judge this season; on whether or not this team identified and developed young players who will be the nucleus of this rebuilding project. I believe that to be the truth. Do you want me to lie? I don't know what the fans will accept. My guess is Jaguars fans are no different than fans in any other NFL city: They'll only accept winning.
Paul from Jacksonville:
I think coach Coughlin has over-reacted with his criticism of Damon Gibson both during and after the game. A young team will make mistakes. The last thing we need are players worrying about making mistakes and possibly being cut. What do you think?
Vic: I'm not big on pats on the back but, in my opinion, it doesn't help promote the concept of team by going out of your way to criticize a player. In my opinion, if a player has to be told fumbling is a bad thing, then he probably shouldn't have been on the team in the first place. I believe Tom Coughlin would've better served his own purposes if he had been gentler in his treatment of Damon Gibson. The bottom line is Coughlin had lost confidence in Gibson to the point it was unlikely Coughlin would play Gibson again. We had been through this before, with Chris Howard in week two of the 2000 season in Baltimore. The Stacey Mack situation a year ago was similar. Coughlin loses confidence in players who fumble. If they are marginal personnel, he won't play them, which begs the question: "Why keep them?" His obsession for "taking care of the ball" is Coughlin's unique personality trait as a coach and I accept it. But harshness in his treatment of Gibson was a mistake that served no useful purpose. It only made matters worse.
Jon from Jacksonville:
By cutting Gibson, what type of message do you feel this organization has sent to a very young group of players?
Vic: The message is, "Don't fumble." That message had been sent previously: Ryan Christopherson, Chris Howard, Stacey Mack. However, Elvis Joseph fumbled a kickoff in the Green Bay game last year, and that fumble led to Green Bay scoring the tying touchdown. But Coughlin allowed Joseph to continue returning kickoffs, largely because Joseph had returned a kickoff for a touchdown two weeks earlier. Clearly, his evaluation of a player's talent level and that player's ability to help the team impact Coughlin's tolerance of fumbling. Coughlin obviously had judged Gibson to be very marginal.
Clyde from Mandarin, FL:
Why was the defense not very aggressive against the Colts? Peyton Manning had way too much time to throw and find an open receiver. I thought Gary Moeller was let go, but it looks to me like the same defensive scheme as last year.
Vic: Clyde, if they could've sacked Peyton Manning, they would've sacked Peyton Manning. Who doesn't want sacks? Manning has only been sacked an average of 1.3 times per game in his career. The Jaguars were playing without six of their starting front seven from a year ago, and Tony Brackens is barely able to play. Scheme isn't the problem.
Tom from Jacksonville:
I'd like your opinion of the clock management in the last two drives Sunday. I thought it was horrible and cost us a chance to win outright, or at least tie at the end. Your thoughts?
Vic: I'm not a big clock-management guy. In my opinion, if you've got to squeeze 60 minutes of football into the last two minutes of the game, then you probably deserve to lose. I will say the Jaguars were far too slow in getting in and out of the huddle in the seven-minute drive that cut the deficit to 28-25. Other than for that, I have no criticism of their clock management. All they needed was for their defense to stop the Colts with four minutes to play.
David from Jacksonville:
So Damon Gibson is gone for making a mistake. Didn't Tom Coughlin draft R.J. Soward? Why are either still on the payroll after such a blunder?
Vic: R.J. Soward is no longer on the payroll.
Jim from Jacksonville:
According to the announcers covering the Colts-Jaguars game, Tom Coughlin was calling the offensive plays. Why does he insist on calling pass plays on third-and-short situations? Does he lack confidence in Taylor and Mack?
Vic: In my opinion, Tom Coughlin leans toward the passing game. Hey, it worked; Bobby Shaw made a great catch.