So, here we are, at the end of a season we thought would at least produce a playoff berth. Tomorrow, the Jaguars will finish up with a game against the Giants, then they'll scatter across the country to reclaim their other lives, the ones they left behind in July.
Coach Tom Coughlin will grit his teeth and "enjoy" the holidays, but the job of evaluating this season will begin immediately after all of the Christmas wrapping has been left at the curb. Coughlin, whose resilience is becoming legendary, is giving the impression he's eager and ready to dive into an offseason of upheaval.
Criticize his play-calling? You'll have to do better than that. The guy just won't crack.
Bad year? Betcha the coach can't wait to get away for a little R and R? Yeah.
"We start right away. We'll evaluate for the first 10 days of the offseason. We'll very thoroughly evaluate every player, we'll very thoroughly evaluate the scheme, talk about how we can improve by virtue of the player, how we can improve by virtue of the scheme," Coughlin said of the immediate offseason regimen at One Alltel Stadium Place.
"What are our objectives in the offseason? What are our objectives in the draft? Where do we start with our own particular problems with the salary cap," Coughlin added.
Yeah, that'll pretty much cover it. That ought to keep the boys busy: Bad season, positions to patch, no salary cap room to do it. Oh, let's not forget about one more year in a division with fast-rising teams. Next summer, the Jags will probably be a fourth-place AFC Central Division preseason pick.
It will be an offseason that'll demand strong and unyielding leadership. Preservation and maintenance are no longer the issues. This team is going to require some serious overhauling, and it's what Coughlin does best.
By nature of his impatience and intensity, Coughlin is the perfect fit for a team in need of dynamic decision-making. Building this team is what he did best. Now, it needs re-built.
From a fan's or reporter's perspective, the offseason is a lock to be more exciting than this past season was. Now, we're going to see some real action. We may not like what we're going to see, but it's going to create a lot of interest.
Everybody has an opinion about what the Jaguars should do. Those who believe this season was a fluke and this team still has Super Bowl potential, say, "Mortgage more of the future for the sake of keeping this team together." This reporter says, "Blow it up and start over."
What will Coughlin and owner Wayne Weaver decide. Those will be the only two opinions that count. You can almost hear the gears in Coughlin's head starting to grind.
As for today's game, if winning truly is as important as Coughlin says it is, then just stop the Giants' running game. If the Giants can't run, they can't score, and if at this point in the season the Jaguars can't stop the run, why even bother with anything else?
It's time to get ready for the excitement of the offseason.