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Media tests Coughlin's calm

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Tom Coughlin maintained strong criticism of his players' lack of intensity and effort in Sunday's 24-15 loss in Seattle, but today's press conference forced Coughlin to also defend his belief in his team.

The questions he faced today were, at times, pointed, and he expressed irritation, but he kept his poise, even on the worst of days.

These were some of the major points of today's press conference.

• "We played soft defensively; softer than we've played in some time. We didn't rush the ball offensively," he said, criticizing a run-defense that allowed the Seahawks' Shaun Alexander to gain 176 yards -- an all-time Jaguars opponent record -- and a rush-offense that has fallen to 22nd in the league.

Coughlin was specifically critical of the right side of his defensive line, where Alexander was most successful.

• "The fumbling is a real issue. It was an issue last year and it's an issue this year. That's the one thing I've always been concerned about with Stacey (Mack). He knows it," Coughlin said of the third-year running back, who Coughlin benched following his second fumble of the game.

When a reporter suggested benching Mack might erode his confidence, Coughlin shot back, "It eroded my confidence when he put the ball on the ground."

• Coughlin admitted his postgame address to his team was of a very strong nature. "It was a little stronger postgame review. That was to get their attention," Coughlin said.

• "We weren't tough enough. We weren't physical enough," Coughlin said in an overall assessment of his team's performance in Seattle.

• "We have 12 games to play. My level of expectation is much higher," Coughlin said after a reporter observed that the Jaguars have played at a near-.500 pace for a year and a half. "I think we're a much better team than .500," he added.

• "We're 2-2, the last time I looked. My responsibility is to be the head coach and put us in the right direction every game," Coughlin said in response to a reporter's question about the coach's part in "turning this around." "We're not 0-4, we're 2-2," Coughlin said, taking exception to the question.

• "I don't just yell at them. The main thing I ask of (the players) is to concentrate, focus and give great effort. If they do that, I can live with it. If they don't, then I'm upset," he said in response to a question that suggested his coaching style is too heavy-handed.

This was a press conference that tested Coughlin's mettle. He was coming off his team's most disturbing performance of the season, and he was on very little sleep. Then he faced the most challenging barrage of media questions this season.

He remained strong in his disapproval of his players' performance, but he found himself also having to be defensive. Even worse, Coughlin will have a whole bye week to repeat the process.

"I'd rather have a game," he said.

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