On the surface, the New England Patriots and Jacksonville Jaguars do not appear to share much common ground.
One side went 14-2 last season en route to their second Super Bowl victory since 2014 and fifth since 2001, while the other went 3-13 and missed the playoffs for the ninth consecutive season.
Neither has met since Sept. 25, 2015, when the Patriots walked away with a 51-17 win.
But there are some links between the two clubs as joint practices get underway behind Gillette Stadium in advance of Thursday’s 7:30 p.m. ET preseason opener.
Here’s a pick-six worth.
JOHN CARROLL ALUMS
The Patriots’ staff carries seven products of John Carroll University. The Jaguars’ staff, on the other hand, carries two. Quite a considerable tally as far as a Division-III program from the Ohio Athletic Conference goes. John Carroll is the stomping grounds of Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, tight ends coach Nick Caley, assistant quarterbacks coach Jerry Schuplinski, director of pro personnel Dave Ziegler, pro scout Frank Ross and scouting assistant D.J. Debick. It also happens to be where Jaguars general manager David Caldwell and director of player personnel Chris Polian went and played, with one playing linebacker and the other seeing snaps at wide receiver. Blue Streaks run deep.
Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone held the same title with the Buffalo Bills during the 2013 and 2014 seasons. And while in Orchard Park, Marrone rostered a pair of current Patriots in defensive tackle Alan Branch and wideout Chris Hogan. Branch appeared in all 16 games during the Bills’ 2013 campaign, starting 13, to accrue 39 tackles before being released in August of 2014. Hogan, meanwhile, appeared in all 32 contests, starting two, during Marrone’s tenure in Buffalo and caught 51 passes for 509 yards and four touchdowns.
Between their coaching staff, personnel department and 90-man roster, the Jaguars have a trio of familiar Patriots faces. Defensive line coach Marion Hobby played defensive end for New England from 1990 through 1992, entering into 42 games and recording five sacks. Director of player development and youth football, Marcus Pollard, spent the spring and summer of 2008 competing at tight end for the Patriots and caught two passes for 17 yards in two preseason appearances. And then there’s recent running back Tyler Gaffney, who earned two Super Bowl rings while in Foxborough between injured reserve, the practice squad, and briefly, the 53-man roster while rushing 152 yards and a touchdown last preseason.
Keenan McCardell, now the Jaguars’ wide receivers coach, played under Patriots head coach Bill Belichick with the Cleveland Browns from 1992 through 1995. McCardell finished his stay in Cleveland with 80 catches for 1,133 yards and eight touchdowns before making stops with the Jaguars, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, San Diego Chargers, Houston Texans and Washington Redskins through 2007. He coached the Redskins’ and the Maryland Terrapins’ wideouts before landing on Jacksonville’s sideline this offseason.
Tom Coughlin, Jacksonville’s executive vice president of football operations, is no stranger to Belichick, either. Decades before Coughlin coached in two Super Bowls against Belichick’s Patriots, winning both, he coached alongside him on Bill Parcells’ New York Giants staff from 1988 until 1990. Coughlin served as receivers coach for the Giants then, while Belichick served as defensive coordinator.
JAG TO PAT
Current Patriots wideout Tony Washington joined the Jaguars’ practice squad to begin the 2014 season and remained with the organization up until May of this year. Washington played in six games for Jacksonville, logging one catch for nine yards and one rush for eight yards. He signed with New England at the start of training camp this July.