Tom Coughlin's Stamp Still on Jaguars

RealFootball365.comSenior Writer IFebruary 11, 2008

Tom Coughlin didn't leave the Jacksonville Jaguars on the best of terms. He was fired after the 2002 season, having served as the head man in the expansion franchise's first eight seasons.

He didn't exactly leave the cupboard bare, either.

Coughlin laid the foundation to fast track the Jaguars, leading them to the AFC Championship Game in their second year in existence and again in 1999.

But as architect of the team, he was also responsible for the huge salary-cap problems Jacksonville faced for several years after his departure.

But even though he's long gone—and the Jaguars have again resurfaced as one of the top teams in the AFC—the connections haven't been severed just yet. The Super Bowl-winning coach in fact is the reason why nearly a quarter of the current Jaguars players are here.

And we're not talking about scrubs—those 11 players form the backbone of the resurgent Jacksonville franchise.

It starts with quarterback David Garrard, who bumped off incumbent Byron Leftwich during training camp and led the Jaguars to their first playoff victory since Coughlin's departure. Garrard was part of the final Coughlin draft class in Jacksonville, taken in the fourth round in 2002. His current backup, Quinn Gray, was a Coughlin pickup as an undrafted free agent, also in 2002.

Of course, Fred Taylor is still there, as are center Brad Meester and guard Chris Naeole. Tackle Maurice Williams had been a starter until his benching this season.

Coughlin also made his mark on defense, particularly the meat of the Jaguars defensive front four. John Henderson and Marcus Stroud were first-round choices during Coughlin's final two seasons. Paul Spicer and Rob Meier, thought to be longshots, both have had enduring and productive careers with Jacksonville.

For good measure, Joe Zelenka is the final Coughlin holdover.

Who is he, you ask?

He's the team's long snapper.

And for a long snapper to be never mentioned by anyone is a good thing—he's done his job.