A quarter-century of claws

by Lawrence Vos (@F10YRetro)

As we come up to the quarter mark of a unique NFL season, two teams boast a 1-2 record, and hopes of the playoffs may hang on a mixture of luck, kicking accuracy, avoiding a Covid-19 outbreak, and the occasional last second moustache-twitching drama. 

The two teams – the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Carolina Panthers – now playing in their 26th NFL season, will be hoping they can reach the playoffs after both missing out in 2018 and 2019. 

Both franchises have now completed 25 full seasons in the league, the last official time a new pair of teams entered the league together, back in 1995. 

It’s time to lotion up, get out the brown and cream speedos and take a deep Retro-flavoured dive into the varied fortunes of two franchises who have completed a quarter of a century in the best goddam sports league on the planet. 

Let’s start with some key players and coaches; 

Photo credit: Foxsports.com

Jaguars first head coach – Tom Coughlin

Where are they now? 

Coughlin started coaching in the NFL in 1984 as the Eagles WR coach, a role he served for the Packers and Giants, before returning to the NCAA to become the head coach of the Boston College Eagles. His first head coaching role in the NFL was the Jaguars, where he lasted 8 seasons. Having opened with a 4-12 record, Coughlin steered Jacksonville to the AFC Championship in 1996, where they lost to Bill Parcells Patriots. Couglin built an excellent team that went to the playoffs from 1996-99, reaching a second AFC Championship in 1999 (a loss to the Titans). Something happened in the Millennium, as Coughlin had three successive losing seasons, before the Jags let him go. 

Following success with the Jaguars, Coughlin eclipsed that as the head coach of the New York Giants, winning two Super Bowl trophies, both upsets, both against the Patriots. 

Coughlin is only just out of the NFL, having retired at the end of 2019 from his role as Executive Vice President of the Jaguars, a role he served for three years. He also spent a year in the NFL head office as a senior advisor. 

How many coaches have the Jaguars had? – 6 

Photo credit: Postandcourier.com

Panthers first head coach – Dom Capers

Where are they now?

Dom joined the Panthers in 1995 having spent over 20 years coaching in college, and even the USFL. Prior to Carolina, Capers built his reputation as the Steelers defensive coordinator (1992-4). He lasted four seasons with the Panthers, posing a 7-9 record in his first season (an expansion franchise record), before going all the way to the NFC Championship in season two, gaining the AP Coach of the Year accolade. His third and fourth seasons saw no playoffs, and he was sacked after going 4-12 in 1998. 

Capers has remained in the NFL to this date, having spent five seasons as the Texans head-coach, as well as defensive coaching roles with the Jaguars, Dolphins, Patriots and Packers. He presently holds the role of Senior Defensive Assistant with the Minnesota Vikings, a role he may not still have by Christmas.

Capers has one Super Bowl ring from his time as a defensive coordinator for the Packers, winning his ring from SB XLV against the Steelers. The Packers D held the Steelers scoreless on their final drive, hanging on to a 31-25 victory.  

How many coaches have the Panthers had? – 5

Two of five Panthers head coaches have winning records – John Fox (73-71) and current Washington head coach Ron Rivera (76-63-1). Interim Coach Perry Fewell went 0-4 in 2019. 

Photo credit: Ebay.com

Jaguars first draft pick (via expansion draft): Steve Beuerlein QB 

Where are they now?

Beuerlein threw the first ever Jaguars regular season pass and went on to win just one game with the Jaguars, before signing for, of all teams, the Panthers the following year. Beuerlein, best described as a journeyman QB led the NFL in passing in 1999 as a Panthers player, and he did pick up a Super Bowl ring in 1992 with the Cowboys. He even touched the ball in the game – a single rushing attempt for 0 yards.

Beuerlein left the NFL in a playing capacity in 2003 and soon became a TV analyst for CBS, a role he still holds to this date.

Jaguars first draft pick (via NFL draft): Pick 2 – Tony Boselli T

Where are they now? 

The Jaguars first selection, and 26 years on arguably still their best. Amongst his many accolades are five Pro Bowls, three consecutive All-Pro selections, and a place on the NFL All-90s team. Boselli played exclusively for the Jaguars. Little bonus trivia – he was drafted #1 overall in the 2002 Expansion Draft by the Houston Texans. Boselli now works in broadcasting, marketing and owns a number of burger restaurants with his old QB Mark Brunell.

Photo credit: Ebay.com

Panthers first draft pick (via expansion draft): Rod Smith CB

Where are they now?

Originally a second-round pick by the Patriots in 1992, Smith was an unquestionable bust for the Panthers, starting just 10 of 54 contests he played in three seasons in Carolina. Not to be confused with the outstanding Broncos WR of the same name and same era, Rod managed just two Panthers interceptions (in 1998), having snagged 0 from 1995 to 1997. He was traded to the Packers in 1998 and thus ended his NFL career.

Panthers first pick (via NFL draft): Pick 5 – Kerry Collins QB

Where are they now? 

Collins had a pretty remarkable NFL career, throwing for over 40,000 yards, playing for six different teams. He even played in one Super Bowl, for the New York Giants, performing badly in a beating by the Baltimore Ravens. Collins managed to beat 31 of 32 NFL teams – the only blot on his paper being the Miami Dolphins. Kerry played 42 games for the Panthers before being put on waivers and being picked up by the Saints, after going 0-4 in 1998 and telling his coach his heart was no longer in the game. Collins was inducted into the College Hall of Fame in 2018. 

Jaguars opening day 1995 starting QB? Steve Beuerlein. 

Where are they now? See above

How many starting QBs have the Jaguars had? 19.

  • The most successful by winning percentage is Rob Johnson, Steve Matthews and Jay Fielder – who have all started once and won (1.000).
  • The most successful by wins is Mark Brunell with 63.
  • Number of starters with 0 wins = 4 (including Nick Foles 0-4).
  • Only one have registered 50 or more wins – Mark Brunell. 
Photo credit: bestsportsphotos.com

Panthers opening day 1995 starting QB? Frank Reich

Where are they now? 

Reich threw the first ever Panthers TD pass – an 8-yard play to TE Pete Metzelaars. Reich started three games for the Panthers in 1995 and failed to log a single win. Having spent 9 years as Jim Kelly’s backup in Buffalo, the brief Reich starting experiment in Carolina was an abject failure. Reich went on to play for two more teams, winning only one more game in three seasons. Reich is now the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts, a role he began in 2018. Reich was the offensive coordinator for the Eagles when they won their first Super Bowl three seasons ago – utilising a ‘backup’ QB to win the game.

How many starting QBs have the Panthers had? 18. 

  • The most successful by winning percentage is Cam Newton (.554). 
  • The most successful by wins is Cam Newton with 68.
  • Number of starters with 0 wins = 6.
  • Only two have registered 50 or more wins – Cam and Jake Delhomme. 

Now for their records (right up to Week 3 2020)

Jaguars all-time regular season record: 177-226-0
Jaguars playoffs record: 7-7
Jaguars Super Bowl record: 0-0 never played.

Panthers all-time regular season record: 196-206-1  
Panthers playoffs record: 9-8
Panthers Super Bowl record: 0-2, loss to the Patriots (XXXVIII) and loss to the Broncos (L)

Where are the Jaguars and Panthers now?

Both teams are somewhat in limbo, one pushing all its chips in on a man with a moustache, and the other transitioning from a franchise quarterback to a bridge one….. who actually is called Bridgewater. The most iconic defenders from both teams are now long gone. Luke Kuechly the All Pro MLB is retired, and Jalen Ramsey the S is plying his trade in Los Angeles. 

Neither team have big ambitions in 2020, and both have a legitimate shot at winning the Trevor Lawrence sweepstakes in April next year. 

Marrone #59 (in middle) – Photo credit: News Group Newspapers Ltd

Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone, the former London Monarchs offensive lineman, is a pedestrian 23-30, and his counterpart Matt Rhule is in his first NFL head coaching job in Carolina. 

Marrone needs to get near to 8-8 to save his job, the memory of his Conference Championship appearance in 2017 is very much faded away, whereas Rhule will have time to build his roost.

From incredible beginnings, both teams reaching their respective Conference Championships in their second season, to recent successes – the Panthers reaching Super Bowl 50 (2016) and the Jaguars one Tom Brady drive from a Vince Lombardi appearance, its been a fun ride so far. 

For many Brits the Jaguars are ‘their’ team after playing seven games in London. In fact, the Jaguars were going to become the first team in NFL history to play two home games away from their actual home stadium, before Covid-19 hit out. 

It is fitting that, much like our podcast signoff, we conclude this little piece with a tribute to the legendary Kevin Cadle. Throughout this article I have been unable to type Jaguars without Cadle’s JAG-WUARS pronunciation ringing through my ears. 

Follow me on Twitter @F10YRetro

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