Jack Del Rio Retained by Jaguars, AFC South Rivals Rejoice

Nick SouthCorrespondent IJanuary 13, 2010

CLEVELAND - JANUARY 03:  Jack Del Rio head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars paces the sideline at Cleveland Browns Stadium on January 3, 2010 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

Jacksonville Jaguar owner Wayne Weaver and I seem to have a lot in common.

Weaver seemed pleased during his announcement that Jaguar coach Jack Del Rio will return for the 2010 season.

You can color me pleased as well.

Weaver told reporters, "I believe in Jack."

Can't argue with that. I believe in Jack too.

Weaver believes that Del Rio is "the guy that can get us there."

I completely agree. Assuming, of course, that "there" is keeping the Jaguar franchise muddled in mediocrity. Del Rio's definitely the man that can get this done.

Del Rio was involved in rumors recently about the vacancy at USC. My first response?


(Side note: USC then decided on Lane Kiffin, an even bigger "why" candidate than Del Rio.)

Del Rio's seven-year tenure in Jacksonville isn't exactly full of accolades: 58 wins, 57 losses, one playoff victory, no division titles.

Sure, Del Rio has had a couple of successful years with the Jaguars. They went 12-4 in 2005.  In 2007, they went 11-5 and had a dramatic playoff win over the Steelers. But the peak years of the Jaguars weren't nearly as successful as their divisional rivals, the Colts or the Titans.

Even the Texans, historical doormats of the AFC South, have finished higher than the Jags in the standings each of the last two seasons.

In the two seasons since their playoff appearance of 2007, the Jaguars have finished in the bottom half of the league in offensive points and yardage. Even their defense, once the hallmark of a Del Rio Jaguar team, has finished no higher than 17th in defensive yardage or points allowed.

The reason for my happiness makes it pretty clear that I'm not a Jaguar fan. I'm not sure why an actual Jaguar fan would be excited by this announcement.

Twelve wins over the last two years doesn't exactly fill one with enthusiasm.

The 2009 season seemed to reflect the inconsistencies that have plagued the Jaguars since Del Rio's arrival. They lost to the Colts twice, but only by a combined six points. Yet they were shut out 41-0 by a bad Seahawks team.

The Jaguars couldn't beat the better teams on their schedule, going 1-4 against playoff teams, but also struggled at times against the league's weaker teams (the Seattle loss, losing to Cleveland, beating the Rams by just three).

The Jaguars aren't an NFL team in an ideal situation. Other than Maurice Jones-Drew, they lack star power. They live in constant fear of local blackouts. With the return of Del Rio, there's not a lot of hope that the situation in Jacksonville is going to change for 2010.

Maybe the "there" Weaver referred to is a destination. Los Angeles? London? For a team desperate to create an identity in the community, retaining Del Rio seems a questionable move at best unless Weaver has other venues in mind for his team. 

So, if you are a fan of the Colts, Titans, or Texans, there's reason to rejoice. Since 2006, Del Rio hasn't had a winning record against any of the other three division foes. In those four seasons, the Jags have swept a divisional opponent only once (Houston in 2009). Even during their playoff year of 2007, the Jags were just 2-4 in the division.

With his sub-par record in the division, and a 2010 schedule that will feature road games against the Cowboys and Chargers, there's little to believe that 2010 will be any different for Del Rio's Jaguars than the last two seasons have been.

You almost have to feel sorry for a Jaguar fan.