It is unusual for a team’s chief front office executive to be in the spotlight before a conference title game.
But that is what is happening this week with the hype before the New England-Jacksonville game for the AFC title.
One of the storylines is the matchup between New England coach Bill Belichick and Jaguars vice president of football operations Tom Coughlin.
That is because the two men once coached together under Bill Parcells, and Coughlin has a 5-2 edge on Belichick in head-to-head matchups and twice beat him in Super Bowls.
The key to both of Coughlin’s victories was a fierce pass rush that throttled Tom Brady and held him to 14 and 17 points. And then Eli Manning directed game-winning touchdown drives in the fourth quarter of both games.
Since the Jaguars have a strong defense and a good pass rush that has 55 sacks this year, the comparisons are inevitable.
But since Coughlin isn’t coaching, the comparisons are misleading. And nobody knows if the Jaguars pass rush can perform the way the Giants did.
It is also no secret that the key to beating the Patriots is to keep a heavy rush on Brady. Coughlin probably doesn’t have any special insights to add to this fact, although it is being viewed as if he does.
Coughlin also is given credit for supposedly changing the culture in Jacksonville with his emphasis on things like having the clocks set five minutes fast — i.e, “Coughlin Time.”
In the unlikely event the Jaguars pull off an upset, Coughlin will get much of the credit whether he deserves it or not. It will be viewed as the third time his team beat Belichick’s team in the playoffs.
Coughlin has even overshadowed coach Doug Marrone, who said this week that he leaned heavily on Coughlin all year.
What has also been overlooked is that Coughlin failed to make the playoffs his final four years in New York before being fired. He had losing records his final three years, including 6-10 marks his final two years.
And not many players seemed to express much disappointment about his departure. Coughlin’s abrasive style may have a short shelf life.
Even though he was the Jaguars’ first coach, he is now dealing with a new group of players who are happy to set their watches five minutes ahead.
And he is probably easier to take in small doses since he doesn’t interact with the players as much as he did as a head coach.
His overall record with the Giants was barely over .500 at 110-93, but the two Super Bowl victories obscure that fact.
It is now Coughlin time once again in Jacksonville.
Now we find out if “Coughlin Time” can beat the Patriots once again.