PHOENIX – It didn’t take long for Tom Coughlin to identify one change the Jaguars needed to make.
“We need a culture change. People need to know your goals when they walk in the door,” the Jaguars VP of Football Operations said at the NFL Owners meeting in Phoenix on Monday. “We have to define it, let everybody know what it is and how we reinforce it and how you’re going to be judged.”
Already the Jaguars roster has a distinct Coughlin look: bigger, more veterans, more competition. All by design given Tom’s success in the past both in Jacksonville and New York.
“You have to. It puts the players in a position of competiveness right off the bat. If they player’s young and wants to see how he matches up, he might be able to contribute.”
In his three months in charge of the football team, Coughlin has insisted on competition across the board: except at quarterback. He is giving Blake Bortles a chance to be the starter based on what he’s see in Bortles whole body of work since coming out of UCF.
“We think he’s the player. We believe that. Who knows?” he explained. But he did give himself and out, saying the draft could present some interesting options with the 4th pick.
“If there’s a quarterback there we’d have to think about it. Competition is good for everybody,” he noted.
With the fourth selection in this year’s draft, the Jaguars will have about every option you could expect. Defensive line, defensive backfield, quarterback, running back, you name it. But Coughlin’s experience in the league has told him that the first round might extend through the fourth pick, but maybe not much further.
“People have a misconception about the draft. The first round is not 32 players long,” he said, spreading his hands apart like a yardstick. “ You’re going to take your pencil out at some point and say, ‘the first round ends right here.’ Where we’re picking there are a number of good players.”
More than thirty years in the league has given Tom a perspective and a lot of contacts he tries to take advantage of to help his team. At these meetings, he’s networking with people he’s worked with, including those in the NFL office. It’s no surprise that he’s well versed on the full agenda over the three days here.
“I try to take it all in, I try to talk to a lot of different people. I want to be abreast of all of the proposals and rule changes.”
To listen to Coughlin talk now about leadership and motivation and to have worked with him when he first became the head coach of the Jaguars shows a development in message and style. He’s believes he’s in the right situation at this stage of his career, and being at these meetings energizes him.
“I’ve been in the league a long time. I have some people I rely on for information. It’s what we talk about all the time. You better keep learning.”