The old and new will be crossing paths at MetLife Stadium when the Jacksonville Jaguars open the season against the New York Giants.
The game will be the first for Jaguars executive vice-president of football operations Tom Coughlin against the Giants, the team he led to two Super Bowl titles before resigning in January, 2016, after a dozen seasons as coach.
It also will be Pat Shurmur’s first regular-season NFL game as coach of the Giants, a team that has made the playoffs once (2016) since winning the Super Bowl in February, 2012.
“Those who are around know the history,” said Giants long snapper Zak DeOssie, who was a member of both Super Bowl teams. “We know Coughlin will have them fired up. It is the first game and everyone wants to get off on the right foot. I can’t say it will be an extra motivator, but it’s something we are aware of, and it doesn’t change our approach.”
The Giants are just looking to play a lot better than last season. They went 3-13 and saw coach Ben McAdoo and general manager Jerry Reese get fired in early December.
Shurmur and new general manager Dave Gettleman have turned around much of the roster and they will get their first true peek at the new product this weekend in a very tough matchup.
The Jaguars (12-7) blew a 10-point fourth-quarter lead against the New England Patriots in the AFC title game in January. A trip to the Super Bowl was within their grasp.
“I think we’re taking a good approach as a team … everybody that was a part of what happened last year so badly wants to get back to that AFC championship game and change that outcome,” quarterback Blake Bortles said.
Bortles said the Jaguars aren’t taking anything for granted.
“We’ve got to take every day, every week, every meeting of preparation as seriously as possible, and the rest will take care of itself and we’ll end up back there again,” he said.
Coughlin did not talk to the media in Jacksonville this week, but coach Doug Marrone said the vice-president has not changed his approach with the return to New York.
“We know we’ve got a tough road ahead of us and we know we’ve got a tough game on the road opening day up in New York,” Marrone said. “They’ll be fired up and ready to go.”