Aaron It Out: Divisional Round

Tom Coughlin and Doug Marrone were officially introduced on Thursday as the new Executive Vice President of Football Operations and Head Coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars, respectively, and I am officially excited. When the news was first announced, and Mike Smith was also in the running for coach, I wasn’t sure what to think. But from all indications, especially after this press conference, you can see that the culture around the Jaguars is going to change. Gus Bradley was brought in to sort of shepherd the rebuild but for whatever reason, he couldn’t push the players up and over the hill. The combination of Coughlin and Marrone definitely will.

You can tell that Coughlin is glad to be back. Coughlin has plenty of ties in this area and while he did have an excellent tenure up in New York, he seemed to know that he would one day return to the franchise that he helped build. Coughlin’s influence will permeate the building out at Everbank Field, and that’s good. There will be no more excuses, and he will put that great eye of finding talent (remember the man drafted Boselli, Taylor, and Brackens, and plucked Brunell and Smith out of backup roles on other teams’ rosters) to good use, and evaluate the talent that’s in the building. He will make winning – not performing, not trying, but winning – the most important thing.

A direct quote from Coughlin during the presser, about winning games – “Is that going to be a focus? What else is there? This is all nice and dandy, but winning is what it’s all about.”

Tom Coughlin is making the Jaguars relevant again.

Doug Marrone was looked at, immediately after leaving his head coaching position with the Buffalo Bills, as a deserter, a coward, or someone who just walked away from an amazing job. We see now, with the dysfunction in the Bills’ organization recently over who fired Rex Ryan, who decided to sit Tyrod Taylor, and so forth, that Marrone was making a very smart decision. Now, it has turned out to be a great one, as he has the chance to fully carry out his vision for a team in Jacksonville.

He doesn’t necessarily belong to a great coaching tree (although he could arguably be part of the Parcells one with Coughlin, given he coached with Sean Payton), but the fact of the matter is he turned around Syracuse’s football program, and guided the Bills to a 9-7 season with EJ Manuel and Kyle Orton at quarterback. Blake Bortles is arguably better than both of those people. He will install his people, guided by Coughlin, and has a great chance to land an excellent outside hire like (maybe, hopefully, fingers and toes crossed) Wade Phillips.

Time will tell, but this is not a rebuild, more of a “soft reboot,” of the team. It seems to me like the right people are in the right place for the Jaguars, and I am excited to see what they do in the offseason.

THE OTHER COACHING HIRES

I really like the idea of Vance Joseph heading the Denver – he seems to be a good fit and did well managing the personalities down in Miami last year as their DC. The Sean McDonough hire in Buffalo is interesting, given the Panthers’ reliance more on their offense to score points than their defense’s ability to stop their opponents from scoring in recent years, but good for him. Anthony Lynn is now the Chargers coach, and if he takes Gus Bradley with him we’ll have a Bradley return really soon: this year, as the Chargers are on the Jags’ schedule as a visiting team in 2017.  And Sean McVay, 30 years old for the Rams with Wade Phillips the Old Voice of Experience… wow.  He must have really impressed them; will he wind up being successful or showing his age like McDaniels did in Denver?  Only time will tell.  Lots of first-timers in this cycle; we may see more if Kyle Shanahan or Josh McDaniels take over the 49ers.

L.A. DRAMA

And speaking of the Chargers, the team announced on Thursday that they are moving to Los Angeles.

Why? This is stupid.

It’s obvious that, within the confines of the early 00’s to, say, 2013 or 2014, owners got greedy and wanted new stadiums that would bring them revenue but cost nothing. Many times, these projects would go over budget. Sometimes, way over budget, like the new snow globe stadium in Minneapolis for the Vikings. Sometimes, it is too soon, like replacing the less-than-30-years-old Georgia Dome with a horribly ugly thing that games will be played in. However, the public has wised up, and San Diego did not want to give the Chargers’ ownership free public money (which is smart). Now, after alienating their fan base, the Chargers will be forced to move to L.A. and play second fiddle to the Rams. The Chargers will play for two years in a stadium that will seat less than 30,000 people before paying rent to play in the Rams’ new stadium.

All I have to say about this is it’s a very dumb idea, and the people of L.A. will quickly move on from football if their team or teams continue to stink the way they have.

TOP FIVE
1. Cowboys
2. Steelers
3. Falcons
4. Packers
5. Patriots

THE GAMES AND PICKS

SEAHAWKS at FALCONS (Saturday, 4:35 FOX) – The Falcons are probably one of the most fun teams in the NFL right now because they have a lot of offense. Their defense is also pretty good. The Seahawks did not have too bad of a game last week against the Lions, but the Lions also fell apart right at the end of the season and basically stumbled into the playoffs. However, Seattle’s defense is banged up and their line is about as solid as Starbucks coffee (bad Seattle pun: check). Atlanta is running on all cylinders and is looking to go deep into the playoffs. SEATTLE 20 ATLANTA 45

TEXANS at PATRIOTS (Saturday, 8:15 CBS) – If Jadaveon Clowney can get to Tom Brady multiple times, this game will be a lot more interesting than it looks on paper. On paper, this game is a blowout. I do not like the Patriots and never will, but they should very easily handle the Texans. Brock Osweiler is playing bad football and not utilizing the great offensive weapons he has. Tom Brady is always great at least one game in the playoffs and I am sure that they have deflated the footballs to such a degree that they shouldn’t have any trouble winning – oh, and the Pats already beat the Texans with first-time starter earlier this season. HOUSTON 12 NEW ENGLAND 35

STEELERS at CHIEFS (Sunday, 1:05 NBC) – This is the one game this weekend where the away team will win. I do not believe that the Steelers, the way they currently are playing, can be beat. The Chiefs have a great defense, but I don’t think that they are enough to stop Brown, Bell, and Ben. Also remember that the last couple of years the Chiefs have appeared in the playoffs, they have checked out pretty quickly. That should not change here. PITTSBURGH 30 KANSAS CITY 17

PACKERS at COWBOYS (Sunday, 4:40 FOX) – I wasn’t sure who would win this game and what I would necessarily write about until I found out Jordy Nelson was hurt. That is going to impact the Packers greatly. I know last year against the Cardinals, the Packers won on a hail mary to Joe Offthestreetski, but I think the Cowboys’ defense will be able to stifle Aaron Rodgers, and Ezekiel Elliott will be able to pound the ball and keep the clock running. This is not just a QB vs. QB battle, and it will show. GREEN BAY 21 DALLAS 30

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