When Tom Coughlin became head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars in 1998, he removed video games and ping-pong tables from the locker room. He did the same thing in New York when he became head coach of the Giants in 2004.
And he did something else at both stops, too: He adjusted every clock in the building by five minutes.
“He knew it was Coughlin Time,” former Jaguars safety Donovin Darius said on Tiki and Tierney. “He turned every clock in the building five minutes faster.”
That eliminated nonsense. That eliminated any potential excuse for being late.
Players didn’t love it, but they needed it.
“At the end of the day, we’re there as players coming out of college with a lot of talent, but one of the things we have to continuously be cultivated and developed in is the art of professionalism,” said Darius, a first-round pick in 1998. “Professionalism has everything to do with being on time and being early so you can prepare and you can be ready.”
Coughlin is no longer a head coach, but his impact on the Jaguars cannot be understated. After winning five games or fewer in six consecutive seasons, Jacksonville made the playoffs for the first time since 2007 and has advanced to its first AFC Championship since 1999.
The coach that year? Coughlin.
“You kind of hate him when you’re playing for him, but you appreciate him when you’re done,” said Darius, who played for the Jags from 1998-2006. “Who likes discipline anyway? For young men with all that talent, with so much potential, you actually need that. You can see the difference just in one year from what they were last year with three wins to right now in the AFC Championship Game.”
The Jaguars will face the Patriots in Foxboro this Sunday at 6:40 p.m. ET.
There’s no denying which team has the advantage at quarterback, but Blake Bortles has been solid in recent weeks. Darius credits Jacksonville head coach Doug Marrone and offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett for maximizing Bortles’ ability and not asking him to do too much.
“Blake could have all this potential, but he may only be able to execute at a high level up to a certain point,” Darius said. “ I think they found an equal balance with the addition of the running game.”
Bortles has two touchdowns and zero turnovers in the postseason.
“Blake, it seemed like he kind of got into a zone,” Darius said. “Some guys, they execute well under pressure, and some guys execute well under praise. For him, at times, it seemed like he executed very well under praise. So build the momentum, allow him to have success, allow the team to be winning and just kind of stay with it and hope you hang on long enough.”
Bortles’ postseason numbers aren’t eye-popping – he’s 26-of-49 (53.1 percent) for 301 yards – but if he wins a Super Bowl, that’s all fans will remember.
“At the end of the day, who cares how much you threw or didn’t throw if you win a Super Bowl?” Darius said. “That’s all that matters. It doesn’t matter how you get there; (it’s) the fact that you get there.”