JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville Jaguars have fired Tom Coughlin as executive vice president of football operations, parting ways with the two-time Super Bowl-winning coach a little more than a day after the NFL Players Union took a sledgehammer to his reputation.
Jacksonville has struggled on the field this season, dropping to 5-9 despite an offseason in which it spent $88 million to sign Nick Foles as a franchise quarterback.
The 73-year-old architect who built the team from the ground up the first time, then revived it upon his return in 2017 after leading the New York Giants to two titles, was on the firing line because of a sagging record, questionable roster moves and, most recently, an arbitrator’s decision to undo millions in fines imposed by Coughlin himself.
Owner Shad Khan released a statement:
“Within the past hour I informed Tom Coughlin that he was being relieved of his duties as Executive Vice President of Football Operations of the Jacksonville Jaguars, effective this evening. I determined earlier this fall that making this move at the conclusion of the 2019 season would be in everyone’s best interests but, in recent days, I reconsidered and decided to make this change immediately. I thank Tom for his efforts, not only over the past three years but for all he did from our very first season, 25 years ago, to put the Jacksonville Jaguars on the map. General Manager Dave Caldwell and Head Coach Doug Marrone will each report directly to me on an interim basis. My expectations, and those of our fans, for our final two games and the 2020 season are high.”
The final straw likely came Monday when the NFL Player’s Association released a scathing statement after an arbitrator ruled that the Jaguars could not fine players for not going to receive medical treatment at team facilities during the off-season. The team fined former defensive end Dante Fowler more than $700,000 for issues related to that.
The NFL Players Association said this week that than 25% of player grievances filed in the last two years have been against the Jaguars. The takeaway from the union: “You as players may want to consider this when you have a chance to select your next club.”
Coughlin and the Jaguars have been on the wrong end of other high-profile battles against players involving running back Leonard Fournette, cornerback Jalen Ramsey and now-retired defensive end Jared Odrick. All involved fines or criticism of players who didn’t act the way Coughlin liked, or failed to show up to voluntary sessions that the old coach always believed weren’t really voluntary.
“This is the result -- especially the fan reaction -- of a team that’s just not winning, and when you’re not winning in the NFL, everything just seems to fall apart and people want to blame the leadership,” said News4Jax Jaguars analyst Mark Brunell.
Coughlin, in a statement released by ESPN’s Chris Mortensen, said he thanked the fans and Khan for the opportunity.