In a league that has 16 teams with four or five wins through nine games, Tom Coughlin is looking for the same thing that most other NFL coaches are looking for: Consistency. Ironically, he started the search a week ago by changing up some things.
Having lost four in a row prior to the Washington game, Coughlin wanted to bring back the team that had won three in a row earlier in the year. He didn't want to continually try to explain how a team could beat the Philadelphia Eagles, yet lose to the expansion Houston Texans. He wanted uniformity.
Practice became more physical, coaches were told to be more critical, pads were worn more often and plays were repeated until they were performed correctly. It worked. At least for one game.
"I think that helps, I think the bottom line is we just came out and played better," tight end Pete Mitchell said. "We executed, guys made plays, and the defense played well. Obviously you've got to practice well to play well, but at the same time you can practice well and not play well, so it really depends on what you do on game day."
Coughlin and the Jaguars continued the regimen this week in hopes that it would produce on a regular basis. That test comes this week in a rematch against those same expansion Texans that caused a lot of this talk.
"Our message this week is really two-fold: There isn't any margin for error, and it's consistency," Coughlin said today. "So consistency, I think has probably been the issue, and that's what I'm talking about this week as a team."
And that message applies to more than just their play on Sunday. Coughlin is looking at the way players study, practice, and approach the game as well as play it.
"What we've tried to do this week is create a situation where we have, number one, consistency of practice, one week to the next," Coughlin said.
"Two is our preparation, so that people are really into the game, they know exactly what they're doing, they know what to expect, there are no mental errors, there are no shut downs in the game, things are done in a timely fashion. And third, so that we can have those two factors and then count on the way in which we are going to play on Sunday."
Coughlin would certainly like to see some consistency on an offense that has been up and down, especially throwing the football. He believes part of that was due to the concussion that quarterback Mark Brunell suffered in week six against Tennessee. Now that Brunell has returned to form, Coughlin is looking for a return to normalcy.
"I think there's a spirit and a heart and soul on each team and I think sometimes that fluctuates in and out," Coughlin said. "One of the issues that, thank goodness, I believe strongly that we've overcome is early in the year when Mark got hurt. I think the last two games Mark's played well, and that's a part of the chemistry that runs through our team too, from a leadership standpoint."