The Jacksonville Jaguars have been in the news this week, and not for anything fun done by Jason Mendoza. On Tuesday, the club was widely roasted following their latest loss in a grievance filed by the NFLPA, with an independent arbitrator ruling that the team’s fines for players for missing “mandatory” offseason appointments with club trainers or officials at the team facility were in violation of the collective bargaining agreement (including over $700,000 in fines against former safety Dante Fowler, now with the Los Angeles Rams). The NFLPA then took the remarkable step of pointing out in a statement (as relayed by ESPN’s Dan Graziano) that a lot of their recently-filed grievances have been against the Jaguars, and that players “may want to consider this when you have a chance to select your next club.” And a day later, owner Shad Khan not only fired executive vice president of football operations Tom Coughlin, but said he had been planning on that for a while, as NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero relayed in a statement:
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) December 19, 2019
That’s a remarkable statement, and it raises the question of why Khan wouldn’t just part ways with Coughlin earlier if he had been determined to do so. Yes, perhaps this was about recognizing Coughlin’s past with the Jaguars (he was the team’s initial head coach, serving in that role from 1995-2002) and giving him an opportunity to leave as a “retirement” rather than a firing. But Coughlin’s job title put him above both Caldwell and Marrone, and it certainly seems less than ideal to have someone in that kind of a role for a NFL team if that team’s owner is already convinced the executive in question won’t be there after the season.
While questions remain about why Khan didn’t part ways with Coughlin as soon as he’d decided to move on, this move certainly feels appropriate at this point in time. There are plenty of on-field problems with the Jaguars (who are 5-9 on the season, last in the AFC South), but this grievance illustrates that there are a whole lot of issues with how the organization relates to its players as well. And what’s really notable about the NFLPA statement Tuesday is what it says about how many of their grievances have been filed against the Jaguars and how players “may wish to consider that.” Here’s the key part of that statement, via Grey Papke at Larry Brown Sports:
“It should be noted that Jaguars players continue to be at odds with Jaguars management over their rights under the CBA far more than players on other clubs,” the statement read. “In the last two years, more than 25% of the grievances filed by players in the entire league have been filed against the Jaguars. You as players may want to consider this when you have a chance to select your next club.”
Those are some notably harsh comments, and they certainly don’t make the Jaguars look good. And that certainly adds more impetus for firing Coughlin immediately and declaring it to be a new era. And ex-Jaguars players like Jalen Ramsey (also now with the Rams) have had some notable comments on this, presumably directed at Coughlin:
Tried to tell y’all 🤦🏾♂️ 🤷🏾♂️
— Jalen Ramsey (@jalenramsey) December 17, 2019
— Jalen Ramsey (@jalenramsey) December 19, 2019
This is quite the way for Coughlin to go out. The 73-year-old found significant success in both the NCAA (especially as the head coach at Boston College from 1991-93) and the NFL (four consecutive playoff trips and two AFC Championship Game appearances with the expansion Jaguars, then five playoff appearances and two Super Bowl wins with the New York Giants), but his disciplinarian focus has drawn comment before. And it certainly didn’t seem to work out well for him here.