This week’s tour of the AFC South begins with visits by Tennessee Titans’ running back Demarco Murray and former two-time Super Bowl-winning coach and new head of all things football in Jacksonville, Tom Coughlin.
Murray won the rushing title in 2014 by nearly 500 yards when he was with the Dallas Cowboys, and in his first season in Nashville last year led the AFC in rushing with a 1,200-yard season. Murray has been a workhorse in both places at a position with a short lifespan.
So how can he keep that up?
“I do a lot of weird things that make me physically fresh,’’ Murray told the Talk of Fame Network. “I know the history (of running back longevity), but I’m not worried about it.’’
What kind of weird stuff? Listen in, and let Murray explain.
He also believes quarterback Marcus Mariota is the guy to lead the Titans to the AFC South title that the Houston Texans won the past two seasons. But there is more to his faith in the future than that.
“I think having a second go-around with similar faces,’’ Murray cited as one reason for his optimism. “All our starters are back on offense. I think we’re headed in the right direction.’’
Coughlin’s new job in Jacksonville is to get the Jaguars back into the playoff picture after a decade of failure. The Jags have not had a winning season or made the playoffs in 10 years. So they brought back the man who first led them there.
Coughlin won two Super Bowls coaching the Giants, but he also posted the best record of any expansion head coach in NFL history and reached the AFC championship game in the Jags’ second season of existence.
So how can he do it again from the front office?
“The running game is important,’’ says Coughlin. “It could enhance (quarterback) Blake (Bortles’) game immeasurably. Third downs are shorter. The ability to pound the ball (is) where play action passes can become critical if we can become effective with our run game.’’
One of the toughest decisions Coughlin made was to pick up Bortles’ fifth-year option even though his touchdown passes fell from a career-high 35 to 23 last season as he struggled much of the year. Why? You can hear Coughlin’s full explanation this week on SB Nation Radio and on nearly 80 radio stations around the country or by downloading the free podcast at iTunes. Or you can hear it all with one click by going to talkoffamenetwork.com on your mobile device, laptop or iPad.
When you do you’ll also hear from a guy who once terrorized NFL quarterbacks. “Dr. Doom’’ was a well-deserved nickname for former Oilers’ star Robert Brazile, who is the only 1970s’ all-decade linebacker not yet in the Hall of Fame.
Brazile made seven Pro Bowls and was a five-time All-Pro during his 10-year career with the Houston Oilers and has been Hall-of-Fame eligible for 27 years without once being a finalist. How he got that nickname is a story in itself, one involving Howard Cosell and the now defunct college All-Star game Brazile played in in 1975.
Brazile also explains why Bum Phillips claimed it was “Dr. Doom,’’ not Lawrence Taylor, who created the 3-4 rush linebacker that came to dominate the game and why not having sacks become an official statistic until his final two years in the league may be keeping him out of the Hall.
Our Ron Borges makes a strong argument for Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft being Hall of Fame worthy and Dr. Data, our Rick Gosselin, wonders if Jaguars’ owner Shahid Khan’s willingness to spend $352 million on seven free agents the past two seasons — with a staggering $133 million guaranteed — will pay dividends in Jacksonville.
If you like to party, the NFL’s decision to allow more fervent touchdown celebrations is also analyzed by someone who doesn’t like the change, former head of NFL officials and now Fox Sports officiating expert, Mike Pereira.
“I think it’s a sad day,’’ Pereira says of that decision. “A step backward.’’
You can hear all that and more each week — and at any time you want at talkoffamenetwork.com or on our iTunes podcast if you miss our weekly Wednesday night broadcast.