It’s about time: Jags fix clocks, post-Coughlin

5:55 PM ET

  • Michael DiRoccoESPN Staff Writer

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    • Covered University of Florida for 13 seasons for ESPN.com and Florida Times-Union
    • Graduate of Jacksonville University
    • Multiple APSE award winner

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Cornerback A.J. Bouye had one immediate thought when he walked into the Jacksonville Jaguars locker room on Thursday morning: Uh-oh.

Bouye said he thought he was going to miss the start of the team meeting and his gut clenched for a second, only to realize he had plenty of time to make the meeting. Five more minutes, to be exact.

One of the first things the Jaguars’ equipment staff had done Thursday was to turn all the clocks in the facility ahead five minutes. One of the first things executive vice president of football operations Tom Coughlin did when he arrived in 2017 was move them back five minutes, but after his Wednesday night firing, the team quickly made the change, returning the clocks to the actual time.

“That’s the first thing I noticed when I got in here,” Bouye said. “I thought that I was late for meetings. I look up and I had an extra five minutes so I was good.”

The time change was the most noticeable difference in the franchise on the first day of the post-Coughlin era. Nobody moved a pingpong table back into the locker room. There were no video game consoles or televisions tuned to news or sports channels.

No players celebrating, or any critical comments to the media about Coughlin’s fines, or the NFLPA’s letter that warned impending free agents about signing with the Jaguars. Just a normal Thursday, defensive tackle Abry Jones said … with an additional five minutes from last Thursday.

“I noticed the clocks,” Jones said. “It threw me off when I first got here. I thought I was I was late. That’s probably the strongest adjustment we’re going to probably have to get used to — resetting back to five minutes back.

“Other than that, no real big difference.”

Coughlin changed the clocks because his philosophy is: If you’re not five minutes early to a meeting or commitment, you’re considered late. It’s one of the ways he emphasizes accountability. Another way he does that is by fining players for rules infractions, including for missing doctor and rehabilitation appointments during the offseason.

That, however, is prohibited by the NFLPA, which released a letter Monday that said former player Dante Fowler won a grievance against the Jaguars after being fined 25 times for more than $700,000. The letter also noted that more than 25 percent of the grievances filed by NFL players the past two years have been against the Jaguars, and “you, as players may want to consider this when you have a chance to select your next club.”

That letter pushed owner Shad Khan to fire Coughlin Wednesday night instead of after the season.

Running back Leonard Fournette was another player who won a grievance against the Jaguars. Coughlin fined Fournette and running back T.J. Yeldon a game check for what he called their “unprofessional behavior” on the bench in the 2018 finale. However, Fournette was inactive for the game because of an injury. He appealed the fine of $99,948.88, the equivalent of one week’s pay. Fournette, who said he got back his money within two months, laughs about it now.

“Two days later [after the game] when T.J. called me, he’s like, ‘Man, what the hell? I got fined $100,000,’ ” Fournette said. “I’m like, ‘S—, I don’t know what to tell you.’ Then the email came to me and I called him back. I’m like, ‘I got fined 100 grand!’

“Our biggest thing was trying to get our money back, of course. It worked out fine.”

Fournette said Thursday that despite that incident, he has a good relationship with Coughlin.

“It got better; especially this year, after the talk we had about getting the money back and things like that,” Fournette said. “He was kind of openly coming to me and telling me if I have a problem, or anything, always come to my office and knock on my door and we’re going to talk.”

Defensive end Calais Campbell is the team’s union representative, so he has heard plenty of complaints about Coughlin’s fines from his teammates. He has told players to file a grievance and acted as an anger-management counselor, of sorts, as well.

Campbell said although he doesn’t agree with Coughlin’s methods, he does understand his motive.

“Most of the issues are probably trying to create a winning culture through methods of holding people accountable,” Campbell said. “I liked him a lot, and as a person. The way his methods are, everybody has different opinions on, but for myself, I understood them. I knew his end goal was to win and that right there was enough for me.

“I didn’t agree with everything, but I never agree [with everybody]. At the end of day, though, what’s important to me, is trying to win and making an effort to win on a daily basis. That’s one thing you can say: He put a lot of effort into trying to win.”

That didn’t work, either. The Jaguars are 10-20 since they reached the AFC Championship Game after the 2017 season, and that’s a significant part of why Coughlin is no longer employed.

And why the clocks are now correct inside TIAA Bank Field.

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