The Washington Post

No stranger to late season runs, Giants’ Coughlin not counting Redskins out

Tom Coughlin’s Jacksonville Jaguars made the playoffs in 1996 after opening the year with a 3-6 record. (Al Behrman/Associated Press)

The Redskins are trying to orchestrate a dramatic turnaround to their season, and thus far have taken two steps in the right direction after reeling off two straight wins after falling to 3-6 just before their bye week.

The Redskins believe that they have a chance to become only the fourth team since 1990 to make the playoffs after opening the year with a 3-6 record.

The most recent team to pull off such a feat? The 1996 Jacksonville Jaguars, then coached by current Giants coach Tom Coughlin.

Jacksonville won six of their last seven regular season games to finish the year 9-7 and then went on to reach the AFC Championship before falling to New England.

Asked Wednesday about the keys to such a turnaround, the coach said improved execution and a victory in one game can spark a team’s confidence and have a snowball effect.

“We started to play well. We started to feed off the idea that the confidence was getting better and all the hard work that we had put into it was starting to pay off,” Coughlin said via conference call. “The players started to believe. As they started to believe and gain confidence, by the same kind of effort and the same kind of preparation, the players began to feed off this and the quality of our game improved.”

Coughlin last season directed another dramatic run when his Giants entered Week 16 with a 7-7 record after losing to the Redskins, and then won their last two regular season games and four playoff games to capture the Super Bowl title.

Coughlin said that the Redskins, despite being 5-6, certainly aren’t out of it yet.

“It’s just the same situation that we’re all in,” Coughlin said, “and this is at this time of year, you’re desperately trying to play your best football and you’re doing it consistently and you have to be able to finish. You have to be able to get the games into the fourth quarter and find a way to win them.”

Mike Jones covers the Washington Redskins for The Washington Post. When not writing about a Redskins development of some kind – which is rare – he can be found screaming and cheering at one of his kids’ softball, baseball, soccer or basketball games.
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