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|It’s no exaggeration to say Tom Coughlin built the Jaguars from the ground up.
It’s also no exaggeration to say Coughlin’s last piece of unfinished business would be bringing a Super Bowl title to the town he helped put on the NFL map.
Fifteen years after being unceremoniously booted by the franchise he shaped [url=http://www.authenticsdetroitlions.com/cheap-sylvester-williams-jersey]Sylvester Williams Color Rush Jersey[/url] , Coughlin is back in the front office, where he has helped guide the team in one of the league’s smallest markets to within two wins of the championship he came oh-so close to the first time around.
The 71-year-old executive VP of football operations started this franchise in 1995, working from an office in a trailer outside the stadium then known as the Gator Bowl. He was the head coach and the one voice who made every decision – from who threw the passes to who ran the calculator for the salary cap to what color paint was on the walls.
Denied not once, but twice, in the AFC title game where the Jaguars find themselves again this week, Coughlin chased the final pieces of the puzzle too hard. He wrecked the salary cap and left Jacksonville with the reputation of a man who had few equals on the sideline but lots of flaws in the front office.
Now, with two Super Bowl rings from New York as a coach in his back pocket, Coughlin is working his magic this time from that same front office. He has shown no interest in coaching and has sought zero attention this season, and especially this week, as the Jaguars get ready to play at New England in the AFC championship game Sunday – 21 years after Coughlin took them to the same place for the same stakes in only their second year of existence.
He may be deflecting the credit, but anyone who knows Coughlin knows what this means.
”He was the architect who built this thing, and he had his hands in every aspect of it,” said Tony Boselli, the Hall of Fame finalist who was the team’s first draft pick. ”Knowing him and as competitive as he, I think he would love (it). It would be a really special, and almost a finishing of what he started back in 1995.”
Of course [url=http://www.authenticsdetroitlions.com/cheap-kerryon-johnson-jersey]Kerryon Johnson Color Rush Jersey[/url] , there are no regrets about the 12 years Coughlin spent with the Giants in between these jobs in Jacksonville. The league changed, and Coughlin changed with it. He shed the reputation of the unbending taskmaster (though clocks are still set 5 minutes ahead), dealt less with off-the-field decisions and more with the X’s and O’s, and won two Super Bowls, both against the Patriots, both as an underdog.
Coughlin’s mastery of the Patriots and Bill Belichick, with whom he worked as an assistant coach under Bill Parcells back in the day, has been no small part of the conversation this week. But if Coughlin will be calling any shots on game day – or has been at any point this season – nobody is the wiser. Doug Marrone is the head coach, although Coughlin is always around.
”I don’t think I can lean on him anymore because I’m a big guy,” Marrone said, only half-joking.
To focus on Coughlin this week is to focus on how he transformed this roster and made sure the franchise, in owner Shad Khan’s words , no longer ”lacked football IQ.”’ The smarter look helped push a team that fired its coach and went 3-13 in 2016 to within a game of the Super Bowl for the first time since January 2000.
Coughlin was instrumental in signing the best free-agent class in franchise history. All-Pro defensive lineman Calais Campbell ranked second in the NFL with a team-record 14 + sacks, making him the most impactful free agent in 2017. Cornerback A.J. Bouye and safety Barry Church helped make Jacksonville’s secondary the best in the league.
Top pick Leonard Fournette and second-rounder Cam Robinson, both college stars from NFL factories, reinforced the team’s new identity as a tough [url=http://www.authenticsdetroitlions.com/cheap-tracy-walker-jersey]Tracy Walker Color Rush Jersey[/url] , physical group that expects to win every game.
All those moves allowed the Jaguars to win around quarterback Blake Bortles, who has been dreadful at times and efficient at best, and a beneficiary of a defense that looks like a monster. The unit ranked second in points, yards, sacks and takeaways.
”One of Tom’s greatest skills is making people believe they can do more than they think is possible, work harder than they thought they could and achieve more than they ever imagined,” said Brian Sexton, the longtime radio voice of the team and one of the handful of people who have been with the team since its inception. ”I never met anybody who worked with him that didn’t want to do their best and have him see them doing their best. It’s a unique skill of his.”
In many ways, this season’s roster successes have mirrored those Coughlin produced during his first few years, when it seemed like he couldn’t miss.
Though it wasn’t a sexy pick, he declared Boselli would serve as the franchise’s cornerstone at left tackle. He went all-in with a little-known Packers backup quarterback named Mark Brunell and found receivers Keenan McCardell and Jimmy Smith in the bargain bin.
The upset over the Broncos and John Elway in the 1996 playoffs is part of NFL lore, but coming up short that year – then again in 1999 after a 14-2 season – sowed the seeds of Coughlin’s undoing.
Hardy Nickerson, Bryce Paup and troubled receiver R.J. Soward were among the players for whom he overpaid or overreached. The Jaguars became a well-coached but cap-strapped and talent-deficient franchise that kept games close, but went 19-29 from 2000-02. (Exhibit A: They had a plus-12 turnover differential in Coughlin’s last season yet finished 6-10.)
There was only one person to blame for that roster: Coughlin. The owner who
PHOENIX — Arizona left fielder David Peralta reworked his swing in the offseason, moving his hands lower and closer to his body with an eye toward getting the ball into the air. It is taking off.
Peralta has 14 homers and 36 RBIs in 62 games, and he already has tied his career high in homers with more than half to season remaining. Along with Paul Goldschmidt [url=http://www.authenticsdetroitlions.com/cheap-da_shawn-hand-jersey]Da'Shawn Hand Color Rush Jersey[/url] , Peralta has helped the Diamondbacks (39-30) score a major league-high 99 runs in June after winning the first two games of a four-game series against the New York Mets.
Peralta had two hits to extend his hitting streak to seven games and scored a run in a 7-3 victory Friday. He had three homers in the first two games of the series, including his second career two-homer game Thursday.
Arizona will look to build on a 10-3 June when it sends left-hander Patrick Corbin to the mound to oppose Mets left-hander Steven Matz on Saturday. Matz, originally scheduled to start the series opener Thursday, was pushed back because of a blister issue.
The Mets are headed the other way. After opening the season 11-1, they have lost 12 of 13 to fall a season-low 10 games below .500 (28-3.
Peralta’s power improvement came as a result of discussions with hitting coaches Dave Magadan and Tim Laker and input from the Diamondbacks’ analytics department, which showed Peralta how often his hard-hit balls stayed on the ground.
“I made a little bit of change with my hands to try to elevate the fastball more,” said Peralta. “Why not put it in the air and see if it is going to better results? When I tried it in the beginning, it felt kind of weird.”
By the start of spring training, Peralta said he was feeling good with the new stroke. Either way, he was determined to stay the course.
“I put it in my mind that it didn’t matter if I got into a slump, I was just going to keep doing it because you have to trust the process,” he said.
Arizona manager Torey Lovullo liked what he saw of the new approach in spring training.
“It’s allowing him to get the barrel to the ball more frequently,” Lovullo said. “He’s just a good hitter. He’s focused so much on being a complete hitter, using the whole field. Now he’s picking his spots to drive the ball.”
While the Diamondbacks’ offense is rolling, the Mets have scored three runs or fewer in 11 straight games, the first time that has happened since 1981. They have lost six of their last seven series [url=http://www.authenticsgreenbaypackers.com/cheap-jk-scott-jersey]JK Scott Color Rush Jersey[/url] , splitting the other, and the best they can do in Arizona is another split after losing the first two games.
Dominic Smith, recalled at the start of the week, hit his first homer of the season Friday, which was the Mets’ 22nd homer in their last 20 games. Eighteen of those, including Smith’s, have come with the bases empty.
“We need to go out there and score some runs. That’s simply stated,” Mets manager Mickey Callaway told reporters.
“We haven’t scored a ton and I think our hitters will. I think we have to get everybody in the right spot to start doing that. When we start scoring runs, we are going to win because our pitching has been tremendous.”
Corbin is 6-2 with a season-high 3.10 ERA after giving up five runs (four earned) in a no-decision against Pittsburgh on Monday. He has given up 12 runs (11 earned) in his last three outings, including a season-high six in a loss to Cincinnati on May 30.
He did not figure in the decision while giving up two runs in the Mets’ 5-4 victory at Citi Field on May 19. Corbin had one of his best starts of 2017 against the Mets, giving up one run and four hits in eight innings on Aug. 22. He is 1-3 with a 4.75 ERA in eight career appearances against the Mets.
Corbin ranks fourth in the NL with a 1.00 WHIP, and his 110 strikeouts are third.
Matz, 2-4 with a 3.53 ERA in 12 starts, faced the Diamondbacks on May 19. He gave up four runs in four innings but did not receive a decision when the Mets rallied for a 5-4 walk-off victory in the last of the ninth inning. He has no decisions in two career starts against Arizona, although he has given six runs and four homers in 10 innings. He has never pitched at Chase Field.
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