Jacksonville Jaguars defensive backs coach also reflects on his team's breakout 2017 season
CRAMERTON - Since 2013, Perry Fewell's South Point High Class of 1980 classmates have used a community run to raise money for a scholarship for a South Point student.
On Saturday, Fewell was able to participate and enjoy his own homecoming charity.
"The run itself is really a great honor for a student at South Point High School because they'll get a scholarship," said Fewell, who helped South Point win the N.C. 3A state football title in 1979. "To come back and experience the run with some of my former classmates and some of the citizens of Gaston County and knowing that the proceeds are going to a well-deserved student at South Point is why you do what you do and why you give back to the community. And it is extremely humbling."
Fewell's time these days is crowded with planning and preparation as defensive backs coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars, who had a breakout 2017 season that finished one step short of the Super Bowl.
The Jaguars went 10-6 to win their first division title in 18 years and make their first playoff appearance in 10 years.
Jacksonville finished the season in a 24-20 loss at New England in the AFC title game in which the Jaguars held leads of 14-3 and 20-10.
"So close but yet so far away," said Fewell, a 20-year NFL coaching veteran who was a 2012 Super Bowl champion as defensive coordinator of the New York Giants. "That's the only way you can describe it. You live with it every day. You try to go back and see what you could've done differently if you're in that position again.
"But it was a breakout year for us and at least we now know that we have the tools and capability to get back there again if we're so fortunate."
Fewell actually began his NFL coaching career with the Jaguars in 1998 under then-Jacksonville head coach Tom Coughlin. Coughlin is now Jacksonville's general manager.
The current job marks the third time Coughlin has hired Fewell as a staff member; Coughlin was New York Giants' head coach during Fewell's five seasons there as defensive coordinator (2010-14).
Fewell previously was defensive backs coach in Jacksonville (1998-2002), for the St. Louis Rams (2003-04), Chicago Bears (2005) and Washington Redskins (2015-16) in addition to being interim head coach for the Buffalo Bills (2009) and defensive coordinator for the Bills (2006-09) and Giants.
A 1980 South Point graduate who played football at Lenoir-Rhyne from 1980 to 1983, Fewell has been inducted into the sports halls of fame for Belmont (2001), Lenoir-Rhyne (2011) and Gaston County (2012).
And Fewell knows that the Jaguars will face greater attention, greater scrutiny and higher expectations entering the upcoming season.
"I believe this," Fewell said. "Yes we do have high expectations and our players have high expectations. It comes down to hard work and then, because we have been there before, I think we have to start off with winning the division and let the chips fall where they may. We want to come in and be a healthy and confident football team that knows what kind of work we have to put in to get there."
Richard Walker: 704-869-1841; twitter.com/jrwalk22