For the entirety of the Jacksonville Jaguars 2019 season, Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin, the team's top-ranking front office member, had not spoken publicly. That changed on Wednesday afternoon, as Coughlin spoke for roughly 15 minutes at TIAA Bank Field.
The last time Coughlin spoke to local media was on the final day of the 2019 NFL Draft. Since then, his only real correspondence has been a released statement following the team trading cornerback Jalen Ramsey to the Los Angeles Rams in October.
"We know as an organization that we’ve put ourselves in a hole this season and specifically, not performed as we had planned in the second half of the last three divisional games," Coughlin said to open his press conference. "I offer no excuses."
Jacksonville currently sits at a 4-7 record and is in the midst of a three-game losing streak, and it at least appears the severity of the losses, all by 20 or more points, inclined him to speak publicly. Coughlin said "no," however, when asked if anyone in the organization made him speak on Wednesday.
Coughlin spoke about some of the positives of the team this season, such as the strong performance of its rookie class, defensive end Yannick Ngakoue and running back Leonard Fournette. He noted the "nucleus of the team is young," but also spoke on where the team has failed this year.
“Our penalty statistics, for example, are very bad and must be corrected. We must find a way to play four solid quarters of winning football, and all three phases must play in harmony if we are to win," Coughlin said. "John Wooden said adversity makes us stronger. We learn a lot about ourselves and about others in most difficult times. So while it’s easy to look at what’s wrong, and we are doing just that, let’s not lose sight of some of the very good things that are happening."
Coughlin, who is in his third season in an executive role with Jacksonville, was asked if he is returning for the 2020 season but simply replied: "there are five games to go."
When later asked to assess head coach Doug Marrone's performance this season, Coughlin did not give Marrone an endorsement, saying, "Well, as I keep saying we have five games to go and then there will certainly be an evaluation of every one of us. Of everybody."
Jacksonville has three home games left to close out the 2019 season, and it was clear Wednesday Coughlin wants fans to still show up and support the team despite the poor season and the disastrous final three weeks.
"We have three more home games and we need our very loyal fans to come forward and support our players and our coaches and create for us the 12th-man advantage," Coughlin said. "We need everyone on board, and all pulling in the same direction. And by everyone I mean ownership, organization, coaches, players, scouts, staff, our great fans and our entire community."
Coughlin was also asked about two former players but did not say much about either. When asked about a potential return for former linebacker Telvin Smith, who announced in May he was taking a year off of football, Coughlin said, "I have heard nothing."
Coughlin also not address the Ramsey situation or why the team's relationship with the cornerback turned so volatile so quickly.
“I'm not going to speak about Jalen. He's no longer a part of my team. He's a member of another team."
So, why did Coughlin speak today specifically? Why did he finally address media, the fan base, and others for the first time this season? He said he didn't do it because of recent results, but because he was here to help "reinforce" the team's message.
"You know my philosophy, the head coach is the voice of the program, OK. I feel at this point in time that I'm needed to speak," Coughlin said.
"Doug has come before you with his message literally every day since the start of the season. If I can help reinforce that message, then that's why I'm here. We're all in this together, we all wanna win. You all wanna win, I know that. You don't want to write about a team that's not winning, that's not any fun. And we're all in this thing together."