Wayne Weaver is in a reflective mood these days, and not just because of the new year.
After 18 years as the only owner the Jacksonville Jaguars have known, Weaver will hand the franchise to Illinois businessman Shahid Khan on Jan. 4. The occasion prompted him Friday to share his memories with the team's official website, and the New York Giants' front office might take note of what Weaver had to say about their coach, Tom Coughlin.
|Tom Coughlin went 68-60 as the Jaguars' coach from 1995 to 2002, with two AFC title game appearances.|
"If hindsight you could change, I'll be honest with you: I probably would have never changed Coughlin," said Weaver, who fired the coach after the 2002 season. "I would have tried to have Tom take a step back and just be the coach. I thought about it, but I didn't think Tom would do it. I thought Tom's pride would never allow him to take a step back and me take the general manager's position and all power and say, 'Go coach the football team.' He did that in New York, but I thought it would hurt his pride too much."
It's no wonder Weaver feels so warmly about Coughlin: He's the most successful expansion coach in recent NFL history.
Coughlin had a 68-60 record in eight seasons at the helm in Jacksonville, made two appearances in the AFC Championship Game (including one in the team's second season of play) and is the only coach in league history to lead an expansion team to the playoffs in four of its first five seasons. (Coughlin's replacement, Jack Del Rio, had just two playoff appearances between 2003 and 2011 and never made it past the divisional round.)
"My three short-list names I had narrowed it down to were (Mike) Shanahan, (Tony) Dungy and Tom," Weaver said. "I hired Tom because I felt he was more autocratic and I felt that not knowing anything about this business I needed somebody where I could say, 'You set the stage here. You build the platform we have to build this franchise around.'
"I felt he would be the best guy to do it and, as it turned out, he was the best guy to do it. We had tremendous success. Our draft choices were probably better than the average team at the time. That was Tom's work ethic. He was very involved and he was a good evaluator. He held people accountable to develop those players."
Coughlin landed in New York in 2004 and won the Super Bowl in his fourth season as the Giants' coach. But he missed the playoffs in 2009 and 2010, and now faces a Sunday game against the Dallas Cowboys that he must win to avoid that fate for a third consecutive time. A loss could put Coughlin's job in peril, coincidentally after eight seasons.
As for the Jaguars, they haven't been to the playoffs since 2007. So what advice did Weaver give Khan to change that?
"What you have to do is draft well and get the right coach," Weaver said. "That's what I said to him."