Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Bye Week Was a Big Week in '96

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Bye Week Was a Big Week in '96

Article excerpt

The Jaguars are off today. It is their bye week, a time to rest

up, heal and get ready for the final 14 games of the season.

It is also a chance to look back on their bye week in 1996, a

week that coach Tom Coughlin said helped give him an indication

that something special might happen to his team.

At the time of the bye week last season, the Jaguars were 3-6

and apparently heading nowhere. They had just been beaten by the

Cincinnati Bengals, blowing a fourthquarter lead. The day of

that loss was also the day wide receiver Andre Rison blew up in

the locker room, spewing out his now-infamous "no love" quote

about Coughlin.

It was a time when the Jaguars appeared headed for big trouble,

a time that would test Coughlin as a coach.

What happened that week proved to be surprising to everyone,

but mostly to Coughlin.

Rison's comments stung, but Coughlin and several team leaders

did their best to defuse what could have been a nasty situation

capable of bringing down the team.

More than that, though, Coughlin was curious to see how his

team would practice that week. Practicing during bye weeks is

tough enough, but the Jags were 3-6 and seemingly headed for

much worse.

Instead, Coughlin got just the opposite.

His team went out and practiced as well as they had at any

point during the season. There was enthusiasm and precision.

This told Coughlin something valuable: His team still cared.

When interviewed after the season for Jags to Riches, the

book John Oehser and I wrote chronicling the 1996 season -- by

the way, it's due out in the next week or so -- Coughlin made

particular note of the bye week as a key to his team's run to

the AFC Championship Game.

"When we got to the bye week I laid out objectives and our guys

practiced with great attitude," he said. "I'm looking at this

thing and saying to myself, `This is not a bunch of people who

are not interested in what they're doing here. …

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