JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Tom Coughlin took a not-so-subtle shot at two of Jacksonville's top defenders, cornerback Jalen Ramsey and linebacker Telvin Smith, for skipping voluntary workouts.
The team's executive vice president of football operations said Thursday that "championship teams are dominated by selfless individuals who recognize that the welfare of the team must always be paramount to any other consideration."
Ramsey and Smith are the team's only players who didn't show up for the start of the team's offseason program. Coach Doug Marrone said he reached out to both players and didn't hear back from either one.
Ramsey also skipped voluntary workouts last year, choosing instead to spend the offseason working out at his father's training facility in Nashville, Tennessee.
Smith's absence was more surprising, especially since he's been in attendance each of his first five years in the league.
"Success in the NFL demands struggle," Coughlin said. "Those who have everything given to them become lazy, selfish and insensitive to the real values of team. The hard work that many try to avoid is the major building block for the development of an outstanding football team.
"It's not about rights and privileges. It's about obligations and responsibility. And the question is, can we count on you? Doing the things the right way all the time; we are what we repeatedly do. Excellence therefore is not an act, but a habit."
NFLPA President Eric Winston reacted a short time later and said the Collective Bargaining Agreement's definition of voluntary "is the same as the actual definition of voluntary and prohibits anyone from threatening players to participate in voluntary workouts."
"This is precisely the reason players negotiated strict work rules and bright lines when it comes to offseason activities," Winston added. "We know, from experience, that not all coaches and executives will adhere to them and we always pursue any violations to protect our rules."
The Jaguars lost 10 of their final 12 games in 2018 and finished 5-11, the seventh time in the past eight years the small-market franchise ended up with double-digit losses.
Marrone made it clear after the season that he placed a high value on having everyone together in the offseason, partly to build chemistry and partly to make sure everyone gets in the best shape possible.
Coughlin echoed those thoughts while speaking at the state of the franchise address Thursday.
"Discipline, organizing your priorities, committing yourself to doing the things necessary to succeed," he said. "No shortcuts. No procrastination.
"Discipline is the refined fire by which talent becomes ability. The only discipline that lasts is self-discipline. The reason people run from the word discipline is because it's difficult to master."