View from the O-Zone: Day to remember

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JACKSONVILLE – Don't overlook this day:

That in one sense would be easy to do – to see Friday afternoon's announcement that the Jaguars extended the contracts of Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin, Head Coach Doug Marrone and General Manager Dave Caldwell and simply say: "They're coming off their best season in a decade … of course they extended them."

But if you're a Jaguars fan, here's some advice:

Don't look past the moment – and in fact, appreciate what it means that Jaguars Owner Shad Khan saw fit to extend by two years the contracts of the team's three key football decision-makers.

"The decision to extend the contracts of Tom, Dave and Doug isn't so much a reward for last season – which no doubt was impressive – as it is to recognize their importance to our football team this coming season and for years to follow," Khan said in a statement Friday.

What do the extensions mean? A lot of things.

For one: the trio is under contract through 2021. They had been under contract through 2019, having signed three-year contracts in January 2017.

It also means the plan worked.

We knew this already, of course. The AFC South title last season and ensuing run to the AFC Championship Game showed anyone paying attention that Khan's decision last January to hire Coughlin and retain Caldwell and Marrone worked beyond what many believed possible.

It's easy to forget now that the approach raised eyebrows.

It's easy to forget all the questions that dominated stories about the Jaguars last offseason:

*Would Coughlin, the Jaguars' head coach from 1995-2002 and the New York Giants' head coach from 2004-2015, be able to thrive in an administrative role?

*How would Caldwell, who had final say over football decisions in his role as the Jaguars' general manager from 2013-2016, and Coughlin work together?

*Would Marrone, the head coach of the Buffalo Bills from 2013-2014, be successful in his second stint as an NFL head coach?

*Would Coughlin allow Marrone to coach?

Such questions – and a lot of others – were understandable; this organizational approach was far from the norm. But Friday showed again what Khan believed would be the case and what Jaguars followers saw all season – that yes, this initially unorthodox approach indeed did work.

"The success we had last season was due to the efforts of many people, but Doug and Dave certainly played key leadership roles in guiding our team," Coughlin added in the statement. "They set the tone and managed the process on a daily basis, and we look forward to building on that process throughout this offseason and the coming season."

The Jaguars' 10-6 record last season marked a seven-game turnaround from 2016 and marked their first winning season since 2007. Their playoff appearance was their first since 2007. Their AFC South title marked their first division title since 1999.

Their AFC Championship Game appearance?  Also their first since '99.

But as Khan noted in a press release to announce the extensions, what this news mostly means is that the Jaguars know for certain their operating structure moving forward.

"We're past celebrating the accomplishments of our division title and playoff run, and now it's time to take the next step," Khan said. "We need the right leadership firmly in place to make that happen, and it's good to know we'll have that with Tom, Dave and Doug secure in their roles with the Jacksonville Jaguars."

And that's maybe what's most important not to overlook.

Stability obviously is ideal, and every NFL franchise seeks it. But finding people who merit it often proves elusive. That Marrone, Caldwell and Coughlin established themselves as a commitment-worthy trinity remarkably quickly bodes well for the coming seasons – and the coming offseasons.

While it's true that the team undoubtedly is focused this offseason on taking the extra step needed to go from AFC runner-up to Super Bowl champions, it's equally true that NFL franchises need a long-term building approach to attain sustainable success.

A four-year plan is about as long-term as it gets in the modern NFL.

Will all three be with the Jaguars in four years? Only time will tell, but considering how long the Jaguars have found long-term stability frustratingly elusive, to have leadership worthy of a commitment such as the one Khan made Friday …

Well, it's remarkable. And it's not something many would have predicted this time a year ago.

The plan worked. A stable future may be at hand.

And if you're a Jaguars follower of any significant time, you know very well that's not something to be overlooked.

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