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View from O-Zone: Getting gritty


JACKSONVILLE – Tom Coughlin set the tone again. No surprise there.

The man who long ago set the tone for the Jaguars – and who once again is charged with the task – took full advantage of a yet another high-profile tone-setting opportunity Wednesday.

Coughlin – named the Jaguars' executive vice president of football operations/boss of all things football in early January – had made certain anyone listening well understood the Jaguars' new direction well before Wednesday's 2017 State of the Franchise.

He covered the whole "winning-matters-above-all-else" thing at his introductory presser …

He touched on toughness a couple of weeks back in his pre-2017 NFL Scouting Combine presser …

On Wednesday, when Coughlin spoke at this year's SOTF event at EverBank Field, he got more specifically into the meat of things. You might say he got a little gritty, and he actually did more than that:

He made "gritty" a theme for the day.

"I suggest we adopt the term 'grit' as a way to define ourselves,'' Coughlin said.

Here's a hint if you haven't been paying attention to this Jaguars offseason – or if you remain unfamiliar with what the man who built and defined the Jaguars as head coach from 1995-2002 is all about:

Coughlin's suggestions have this way of becoming reality.

His will has a similar way, too – and before Jaguars Owner Shad Khan on Wednesday talked about some high-profile, critical off-field Jaguars issues, he made clear he's OK with Coughlin's will defining the Jaguars.

Khan, who has excelled in most off-field things in five years as Jaguars owner, also made clear early in his remarks Thursday that the team's on-field performance recently isn't satisfactory.

"I remain extremely unsatisfied with our performance of last year, and our disappointment predates the 2016 season," Khan said, thanking fans for patience during his tenure as owner. "That's why you see Tom Coughlin here, and why Doug Marrone is our head coach. I hope you share in my optimism, but no one is fonder than me of saying that actions speak louder than words, so I will just ask that you judge us by our actions and our results in the season ahead and beyond."

Make no mistake:

Football was an overriding theme Wednesday and we'll get back to Coughlin in this View from the O-Zone. But it's important to remember when talking about the State of the Franchise that off-field matters. That was a theme in the first four SOTF events under Khan, and off-field again was a major issue Wednesday. You can see whole archive on this website, and you can see the artist's renderings of Khan's Iguana Investments new Shipyards proposal. (Hint: they're cool).

Some high points from Wednesday.

*Local revenue remains key, and Jacksonville's market size creates challenges in that area.

*A presence in London remains critical to the Jaguars.

*Raising ticket prices to necessarily get more in line with the league average is critical to winning – and it remains a challenge, particularly for a team that has struggled on the field.

And, as always is the case, Wednesday's SOTF also featured insight into Khan's vision. Wednesday's version was a look at the Shipyards proposal, and unsurprisingly the proposal is big, bold, state-of-the-art and beneficial to the Jaguars and the City of Jacksonville.

The project very much supports the Jaguars' objective of having a sustainable NFL franchise in Jacksonville because – to paraphrase Jaguars President Mark Lamping – "as downtown Jacksonville goes, so go the Jaguars."

"We know it's a project that's going to take many years to complete," Lamping said, "but we're ready to get started. If it's somebody [with a proposal] better than us, let them get started and we'll be their biggest cheerleader."

Lamping emphasized throughout his presentation that while the franchise's challenges are real, the optimism and commitment to Jacksonville is just as real.

Coughlin's commitment is just as real -- and if you question his commitment, drive, passion or anything with regard to the Jaguars and the task ahead, then you're just not paying attention.

He talked during his introductory press conference in January about the ridiculousness of the notion that anything but winning mattered. When he talked to the media before the combine, he emphasized the need for toughness.

On Wednesday, while emphasizing grit, he referenced a story about martial arts legend Bruce Lee.

Yes, Bruce Lee.

Coughlin's story was about Lee essentially telling someone that if you weren't pushing yourself, if you weren't testing limits and going beyond, you may as well die. And if you think Coughlin was exaggerating to make a point … well, maybe he was. A little. But probably not.

Coughlin's point was the same he has made since early January. What was going on before wasn't satisfactory. It wasn't close to satisfactory. Only winning now is satisfactory. To get there, more than offseason speeches are needed. Toughness will be need. And testing limits. And going beyond.

And, yes … grit.

And it's pretty safe to assume a lot of people around the Jaguars will be defining themselves that way sooner rather than later.

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