Jacksonville Jaguars general manager Dave Caldwell had one of the more honest and open post-firing news conferences Monday a day after the team fired coach Gus Bradley; one in which he actually addressed a specific candidate that has been connected with the franchise for the last few weeks (and, really, since its inception).
Tom Coughlin, who last coached with the Giants in 2015 but got his first NFL head coaching job with the Jaguars, reportedly has been a person of interest for the team's now-vacant head coaching position. Caldwell confirmed as much when asked by reporters on Monday.
"Tom Coughlin is someone we'd be interested in talking to," Caldwell said of the 70-year-old former coach, who will turn 71 in late August.
He added: "He's got so much experience on myself or any coach we have in this building and he's a great individual, and I think you can always learn from people."
In an effort to parse the situation, Around The NFL spoke with Coughlin's long-time top lieutenant Kevin Gilbride, who served as Coughlin's offensive coordinator for two years in Jacksonville and was a mainstay on his staff in New York for 10 years as both an offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Gilbride, to be clear, has not been informed of Coughlin's plans, but has a lengthy professional relationship with him.
Gilbride's main takeaway? Of the jobs that could potentially lure Coughlin out of retirement, Jacksonville makes plenty of sense.
"I know with the public speculation, he's certainly let it out there that he wants to go back and blah blah blah. Does he really want to go back or does he want to keep the possibility of going back open?" Gilbride told me. "A lot of guys just like to be talked about, stay relevant. I don't think that is the case with Tom. But it is flattering with him being mentioned. If something all of a sudden strikes your fancy it's nice that you made it clear you want to be considered. So maybe there will be something -- of course the natural thing there is that (Coughlin) built a home down there (in Jacksonville) to retire to on the beach. So that in of itself and the fact that he's got two children down there are things that would make it appealing."
NFL Network's Michael Silver noted Monday, via a source informed of the situation, that Coughlin previously lobbied to join Bradley's staff before the 2016 season.
Gilbride said that whoever becomes the head coach of the Jaguars will need to bring a very experienced offensive staff to help fix Blake Bortles, whom he said looked "absolutely awful" at times this year. That person will not be Gilbride himself, who told me that he would not come out of retirement to join a coaching staff at this point.
At first blush, Coughlin would seem to be an odd fit in Jacksonville even with Caldwell mentioning the need for discipline. The Jaguars have gained the reputation as a next-generation franchise with an increased interest in advanced statistics. They also have one of the youngest teams in the NFL.
Gilbride said not to assume that Coughlin isn't interested in incorporating new ideas.
"He's pretty much established the way he is," Gilbride said. "That is not to discount that he's not constantly seeking out new trends that are going on offensively and defensively. New thoughts with nutrition and conditioning. He's always doing that. It's a thing he relishes and cherishes most of all. There were times he would bring stuff in -- I saw this team do this and that team do that -- and I would say 'that's great Tom, but it doesn't fit with what we got.' It's something that is enjoyable to him. That's what he wants to do. Does he like to learn? Yeah. Would he change who he is? Nah.
While the carousel has just started turning in Jacksonville, we already have an interesting pool of candidates. Coughlin will be part of a long list for Caldwell to check, but will he end up being the right candidate for the job?