Hello Tom Coughlin and Doug Marrone. Goodbye ping-pong tables and divided locker rooms.
In one of the more time-tested offseason tropes involving new head coaches and management, the Jaguars have opted to haul the ping-pong table out of their locker room, according to ESPN.com. They also broke up their position-ally gerrymandered locker room, forcing veterans to sit with rookies, star players with backups.
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"Coach Marrone made a great point," Paul Posluszny told ESPN. "He said we used to sit in position groups so all the linebackers sat together, all the O-line were in the corner, and he said that you're in position meetings all day, you have individual together, let's have an opportunity to put you next to different people that you wouldn't necessarily be around. Learn your teammates better and overall we'll grow as a team."
Malik Jackson has a theory: "I think they strategically put that locker room together to put leaders in all four corners and in between, and let the young guys understand and follow," he said. "I think it should work well."
The move is interesting and might represent a bit of a compromise between Coughlin and Marrone. During Coughlin's years with the Giants, he preferred a "leadership command center," where his most notable players had lockers together, front and center. This Jaguars' locker room seems to have the best players dispensed throughout in an effort to prevent bad habits from creeping in.
As for the ping-pong table, whatever. Sean McDermott recently did something similar in Buffalo, auctioning off the pool table in their locker room as a final goodbye kiss to the Rex Ryan era. Some coaches view it as a mutual gathering space, which would serve the same purpose as evenly distributing players throughout the locker room. Some view it as a massive distraction.
Will any of this matter in a few months? Interestingly enough, when a team starts to perform better it is often the little things that are pointed to -- music at practice, a relaxed dress code on the road, extra sleep time and later meetings. Marrone and Coughlin have zeroed in on their signature tweak.