JACKSONVILLE – They appeared at last – together, and in real life.
Yes, the Jaguars' future became real, official and vivid Thursday morning at podium EverBank Field:
*Tom Coughlin, executive vice president of football operations.
*Doug Marrone, head coach.
*David Caldwell, general manager.
Owner Shad Khan and President Mark Lamping were there, too, of course – and what a scene. And if there was even the tiniest smidge of a trace of a doubt about the direction and focus of Jaguars football, the man who unquestionably again leads Jaguars football fully erased it.
The man, of course, was Coughlin.
When Marrone about halfway through Thursday's festivities was asked if there would be a focus on winning, Coughlin – the most iconic figure in Jaguars history in addition to being their former head coach and a two-time Super Bowl-winning head coach of the New York Giants – couldn't lean forward to his microphone fast enough.
"Is that going to be a focus? What else is there?" Coughlin said. "What the hell are we doing this for if not winning? We're trying to win today -- who's going to get the better lunch. Let's not let there be misunderstanding about why we're here."
Coughlin then motioned around the Lower US Assure Club in EverBank Field … to the cameras, the lights, the podium, the gathered media and staff.
"This is all nice and dandy, but winning is what this thing is all about," he said.
Was it a tone-setter you wanted? Was that the idea of the 10 a.m. press conference that began at 9:55 a.m. because five minutes early is Coughlin Time?
Consider it done.
He's back, folks – and it's hard to imagine the Jaguars not being better for it.
"Any organization that has Tom Coughlin in it is going to be one of the best in the NFL – no need to Google that," Khan said.
Now, know this:
This press conference wasn't all about Coughlin and his return to what in a very real sense is home. Coughlin made that clear, and he emphasized that everything is about team, team, team – and work, of course, and winning. Khan, who has reshaped the Jaguars' business operations and facilities in five years as owner, talked about Thursday's introductions as being ones that will push the on-field product in a winning direction.
"A spectacular football staff," Khan called Coughlin, Marrone and Caldwell.
And it is a testament to the newsiness of the week – and to the story that is Coughlin's return – that we are deep into this story and have barely mentioned Marrone, now the fifth permanent head coach in Jaguars history.
But make no mistake: Marrone as head coach is a major part of Thursday's story. Khan said without question he believed Marrone the best candidate for a job that was coveted league-wide.
Marrone talked on Thursday talked mostly about his approach. Neither he nor Coughlin discussed personnel extensively, though Marrone did confirm that no coaching-staff positions – including offensive and defensive coordinator – have been finalized. He and Coughlin also both said Blake Bortles "is our quarterback," though neither elaborated much.
And yes, Marrone had his own message – and it, too, was bold, clear and specific.
"I hope that our players are watching this and understand: that they need to be working right now," Marrone said. "This is going to be a culture where you earn the right to work every day and win that day. You have to understand that and take that on a day-to-day basis and work through all the different phases that you do.
"I have a high expectation and a high standard for our players and our coaches and what they should be doing. Technically, you're not allowed to talk to the players at this time, so that was a subliminal message to them."
The final part of the statement drew laughter, but Marrone continued:
"We may laugh about that, but that's the truth. We need to be getting to work. We have a lot of work ahead of us and I'm looking forward to leading this team when they get back."
Was it a tone you wanted set? Was that the idea?
Consider it done.
There will be expectations. There will be accountability. Coughlin later told Jaguars.com Live that he believes this team can be successful quickly, and Khan said the same. This isn't a four-year plan, and it's not about developing for the future. The belief is the Jaguars have drafted well under Caldwell, and that soon – very soon – the winning that has eluded the franchise for so long will stop being so maddeningly and frustratingly elusive.
That's what the moves of recent days and weeks were about. Not hype or splash of "sexiness" of hire. Not about the offseason or inspiring giddiness. They were about winning, and the idea is to do a lot of it very soon.
That's unquestionably want Khan wants from the group that appeared in real life at the 'Bank Thursday. That's what he wants from the future, and the future is now.
Was it a tone you wanted? Was that the idea?
Consider it done.