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O-Zone: No option

JACKSONVILLE – Like many unwanted endings, this one was messy.

Jaguars Owner Shad Khan on Wednesday night announced he had relieved Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin of his duties, thereby ending Coughlin's second stint with the organization just short of three full seasons.

Khan's statement came a little more than 48 hours after the NFL Players Association sent a memo to its players announcing an arbitration victory in a grievance against the Jaguars. More notable: the NFLPA said in the memo that more than 25 percent of the grievances filed by players in the last two years were against the Jaguars. The memo also said:

"You as players may want to consider this when you have a chance to select your next club."

Khan didn't reference the NFLPA memo specifically in announcing Coughlin's departure, but said: "I determined earlier this fall that making this move at the conclusion of the 2019 season would be in everyone's best interests but, in recent days, I reconsidered and decided to make this change immediately."

Khan also added that General Manager David Caldwell and Head Coach Doug Marrone each would report to him directly on an interim basis.

That's the news. It's obviously this morning's major topic here in the O-Zone.

Let's get to it …

Michael from Orlando, FL

Probably not the way Tom Coughlin wanted to go out. As much as I didn't like the warning the NFLPA made about basically encouraging players not to come to JAX, I don't see where Khan had any choice left. I don't see Caldwell surviving, either. On the other hand, in a year or two, Tom will still be running the Jay Fund (and rightly loved for it).

No, in the end, Khan didn't have a choice. Stories such as this often have many sides and layers. We have heard the NFLPA's side, and it was damning. We haven't heard from Coughlin or Jaguars executives, so we don't know that side – if there even is another side. Here's the thing: Whatever Coughlin's side, someone in the NFLPA felt compelled to warn players against signing with the Jaguars. Maybe that wasn't merited. Maybe it was extreme. Either way, the perception after the NFLPA memo was the Jaguars were not a player-friendly team. The Jaguars – i.e., Khan – had to change that perception as quickly as possible and changing it was going to be all-but impossible with Coughlin was running the organization. The Jaguars' record this season and last season obviously played into Khan's decision that Coughlin wouldn't be here in 2020. The need to change the organization's perception apparently made Khan feel he could wait no longer to enact the decision he already had made.

JCKRoye from Jacksonville

Interim basis for Dave and Doug?

This part of Khan's statement is certain to be examined and reexamined in the coming days, but I wouldn't necessarily read much into it either way. Khan addressed chain-of-command in his statement because Marrone and Caldwell both previously reported to Coughlin. Now, they will both report to Khan until the end of the regular season. Khan at that point will presumably announce the direction of the franchise. It may include Caldwell or Marrone or both or it may include neither. I don't sense the interim nature of the current structure indicates the outcome in anyway.

Jason from Jacksonville

It was time for Tom to go. He did a lot for the organization and that should be what we remember. Wish it could have ended on a better note.

Yes, I'm afraid it was. Yes, he did. I do, too.

Fred from Naples, FL

Everyone will say what a great day for the Jaguars to hear that Tom Coughlin was dismissed. In my opinion it's a sad day for JACKSONVILLE and a sad day for the league. He was a Hall of Fame coach but a terrible personnel man. In the end he had rules for everyone and everything, but he couldn't abide by rules himself and that was his undoing.

Wednesday indeed was sad. But let's not completely misrepresent Coughlin as a personnel man: He selected many of this team's best players of all time: Fred Taylor, Tony Boselli, Keenan McCardell, Leon Searcy, Marcus Stroud, John Henderson, Calais Campbell … all were brought here with Coughlin in charge. As far as his "undoing," Coughlin's nature throughout his career was to push the limits of the Collective Bargaining Agreement when it came to when and what players had to do. At the core of this was a belief that what he wanted was what was best for the organization and was the best way for the organization to win. Coughlin's undoing in the end was part of what made him great for many years: an unwavering belief that what he believed was right, and a singular – sometimes maniacal – drive to push and bend a situation to his will. That will turned the Jaguars into a Super Bowl contender in the 1990s and the New York Giants into Super Bowl champions during his tenure there. In his final stint in Jacksonville, it turns out he pushed too hard.

Nick from Jacksonville

Though I'm an avid reader and have been a fan since '95, I can count the number of times I've written into this column on one hand. I feel the need to write in and thank Tom Coughlin for all he's done for the organization, the NFL and the city of Jacksonville. I doubt we, the general fans, are aware of all that has transpired in the building, but I refuse to take seriously the words of a handful of prima donnas regarding this man. I for one think we're better off in the long run without them. My only hope Shad doesn't one day share Wayne Weaver's regret of firing Tom. I'm not ditching my team but I'm taking a break till next season. Good luck Tom.

So, one fer Coughlin …

Art from Drexel Hill

Doug has gotten screwed. The front office screws up and leaves him out to dry every time.

You're referencing Marrone answering the media's questions on Wednesday about the NFLPA story when he had nothing to do with the NFLPA's accusations. Yeah, well…

Dave from Duuuval

Dear O-Zone, I would like to thank Coach Coughlin for all that he has done for the Jaguars and the City of Jacksonville and our community. Enjoy your retirement, Coach. You deserve it!

And another fer Coughlin …

Scott from Wichita, KS

Do you think the NFL will take draft picks away from us? I mean come on: how does Khan not know that players are being fined when they shouldn't be? Someone had to tell him that players were being fined when they shouldn't have so Khan is complicit in this whole thing! Try being a fan in Kansas. I get mocked and laughed at now by Chief's fans. I'd rather get middle fingers than mocked. This is BS!!!

This isn't a situation for which the NFL likely will punish the team or rescind draft selections. The grievance/arbitration system handles grievances, and the league doesn't typically get involved on this level. The Jaguars lost the grievances that have been reported, and the fines have been rescinded. That's the "punishment." As far as Khan's knowledge of the situation, he hires people to run and oversee football. Those people handle fines. It's not something Khan – or many owners, for that matter – would be handling or focusing upon.

Tony from St. Louis, MO

You did ignore it. The story first came out two or three days ago. Where is your story on it? In which O-Zone did you mention it before the one before this? You probably knew the issues the players had and you attacked them while saying little-to-nothing about TC. I get it. It's part of the plan to discredit any player who have an issue with the front office. Every player who is now gone and fans wanted, you found away to discredit them or justify them moving on from them.

Your argument, though bold, is perhaps unsurprisingly errant. The story regarding the NFLPA memo broke late Monday afternoon. It was then addressed significantly in the Tuesday morning O-Zone and has been addressed in each O-Zone since. It also has been discussed extensively throughout each show on this website since. There's no "plan" to credit or discredit people here. This is not a conspiracy. Pretty much the only player I have criticized extensively in this forum in recently is cornerback Jalen Ramsey, and here's why: He proclaimed to love his teammates and love football, and then his back injury magically disappeared upon his trade to the Los Angeles Rams. Perhaps Ramsey didn't like Coughlin, but his lack of professionalism with this team this season was abhorrent. Was Coughlin in the wrong with Ramsey at times? Perhaps, but not enough to merit Ramsey's behavior. But I digress: The Coughlin story wasn't ignored by me or this website. I've worked in situations on which things had to be ignored. Trust me: isn't such a place. Your presumptions notwithstanding, it just isn't.

Bill from Hawthorn Woods, IL

It's sad, but it had to happen. It's not how it anyone wanted it to go, but the last few days made it inevitable.

True and true.

Steve from Shreveport, LA

After the events of the last few days, there wasn't any other option. It is time for a new direction.

True and true.