Jack Del Rio: Why Jacksonville Jaguars Owner Wayne Weaver Should Fire Him Now
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Jack Del Rio's days in Jacksonville are numbered. How many numbers have yet to be determined. Hopefully for the Jaguars, the day he is dismissed is sooner rather than later.
The Philadelphia Eagles came into Jacksonville with controversy surrounding Coach Andy Reid's decision to start Michael Vick at quarterback after announcing earlier that Kevin Kolb would be the team's starting quarterback when he returned from suffering a concussion in week one.
Michael Vick took full advantage of the opportunity, and severely embarrassed the Jacksonville Jaguars in the process.
This was the second week in a row that the Jaguars were humiliated. Last week in San Diego, the Jaguars committed six turnovers including four interceptions from quarterback David Garrard. Returning home to face the Eagles, the Jaguars mustered all of three points for the entire game, and that came from a 51-yard Josh Scobee field goal.
Let's dissect the woes of the Jacksonville Jaguars, and make a case for ending Jack Del Rio's time as head coach.
Reason No. 1: QB David Garrard
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On August 31, 2007, Jack Del Rio made the decision to release then starting quarterback Byron Leftwich in favor of current quarterback David Garrard. "We have made the decision that David gives us the best chance to win" Del Rio stated that day, and it looked as if it was a good choice. Garrard led the Jaguars that season to a 9-3 mark in 12 starts, but missed three games with an ankle injury.
For both the 2008 and 2009 seasons, Garrard started all 16 games, but became mediocre at best. His quarterback rating remained in the low 80s, and his touchdown passes were 15 both seasons.
However, opposing defenses knew what they were getting with Garrard. The Jaguars are a run-first team, and with a great running back like Maurice Jones-Drew, it makes sense to give him the ball whenever possible. When Fred Taylor was released after the 2008 season, Jones-Drew became the featured back, and the offense revolved around him and not Garrard.
Quickly, Garrard's limitations were exposed. His accuracy is questionable, and the coaching staff seems uncomfortable letting Garrard throw deep. His inability to stretch the field allows defenses to focus on stopping the run and not to worry about Garrard beating them with his passing game.
In 2008 and 2009, Garrard had 13 and 10 interceptions, respectively. In 2010 he already has four interceptions after three games. It has become quite obvious that Garrard is not capable of running or managing the Jaguars offense.
During the Eagles game today, I sat in the stands watching Garrard closely. He cannot get past his second receiver. He also has the uncanny ability of staring exactly where he is looking to throw. When he did decide to throw everyone held their breath hoping it wasn't intercepted. Yes, he was that bad today, and he's not going to get better any time soon.
Bottom line: Del Rio made a bad call. Perhaps Leftwich wasn't great, but he would have done better than Garrard.
Reason No. 2: Poor Leadership Skills
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Coach Del Rio has shown that he lacks the ability to lead a football team. We already discussed the Leftwich/Garrard fiasco, but there has been other examples of Del Rio poorly handling his team.
Marcus Stroud was an incredible defensive tackle for the Jacksonville Jaguars. He was paired with John Henderson, and the two were known as the best defensive tackle tandem in the NFL.
During the 2007 season, Stroud was suspended for violating the NFL's policy on anabolic steroids and related substances. He had missed all of the preseason and five games during the 2006 season due to groin an ankle injuries.
Stroud explained that he mistakenly took over-the-counter supplements without checking with the trainer.
Fearing that Stroud was beginning to break-down and then breaking the rules, Del Rio decided to trade Stroud to the Buffalo Bills. Stroud went on to be a viable presence for the Bills whereas the Jaguars struggled to find someone to replace him. It also took a toll on Henderson now that offenses could double-team him without fear of his counterpart.
In the middle of the 2008 season, Del Rio sent then middle linebacker Mike Peterson home after speaking out during a team meeting. Prior to the start of said meeting, Del Rio reportedly didn't want to hear any excuses from anyone. However, when Del Rio criticized Peterson for celebrating a sack during a game against Cincinnati, he explained that he was trying to give the team a spark since they were down 21-3.
Del Rio immediately kicked Peterson out of the meeting and sent him home for the day. When he returned the next day, he was sent home again.
Peterson was known for being an emotional leader on the defense, and at the time was a team captain. Clearly that did not matter to Del Rio—Peterson spoke when he was told not to, and just as Peterson "flexed his muscles in celebration during the Cincinnati game, Del Rio did the same when he chose to kick Peterson out of practice.
Peterson sat out for six straight games before starting in the last two games. He was not resigned, and later joined former defensive coordinator and present head coach Mike Smith in Atlanta. Peterson moved to outside linebacker, and has done well for the Falcons.
Those two examples alone have taught his players to toe the line or else. That is no way to lead a team. There are two ways to get things done: command or motivate.
It's apparent that Del Rio cannot motivate or inspire his team. He stands on the sidelines emotionless, and his post-game interviews are dry and lifeless. How can young men get fired up when their coach is boring and lackluster?
Reason No. 3: Cannot Develop New Talent
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Jack Del Rio was hired by the Jaguars in 2003 after firing Tom Coughlin. Since his arrival, the Jaguars have had eight drafts to recruit new talent, but the Jaguars haven't done a very good job. Here are the first-round picks of those eight drafts:
- 2003: Byron Leftwich - bust (released in favor of David Garrard in 2008)
- 2004: Reggie Williams - bust (released after the 2008 season)
- 2005: Matt Jones - bust (released after the 2008 season)
- 2006: Marcedes Lewis - still on active roster, but has not met expectation to date
- 2007: Reggie Nelson - bust (traded to the Cincinnati Bengals prior to the start of the 2010 season)
- 2008: Derrick Harvey - still on active roster, but has failed miserably to meet expectations
- 2009: Eugene Monroe - still on active roster (in his second season - too early to grade)
- 2010: Tyson Alualu - still on active roster (rookie, but starting at defensive tackle)
Note: The 2009 and 2010 drafts were with GM Gene Smith. Prior drafts were with former GM James "Shack" Harris.
Many blame former GM Shack Harris for the poor choices in the 2003-08 drafts, but after so many failed first-round draft picks conventional wisdom leads one to believe that it is the coaching staff that has dropped the ball and not developed the young talent given to them.
Reason No. 4: Tim Tebow
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Tim Tebow is a polarizing figure to say the least. What he did at the University of Florida was legendary, and has led many to believe that he is the greatest college football player in history.
The arguments prior to the 2010 NFL Draft was that Tebow could not play quarterback at the NFL level. His throwing motion was poor as were his mechanics. He didn't have what it takes to be successful at the next level.
We don't know if Tebow will be successful in the NFL. He has yet to do anything on the field during his rookie season as a member of the Denver Broncos, but the Broncos have Kyle Orton running the offense this season and perhaps during the 2011 season. Denver plans on developing Tebow for the time being, and perhaps their will be opportunities to get him into some games this year.
When the Jaguars decided to pass on Tebow, it showed what many already knew, and that is the Jaguars are clueless.
First of all, Tebow is resident of Jacksonville. He played high school football at Nease (Ponte Vedra), and was a local hero before even playing a down for the Florida Gators. The Jaguars have struggled with character issues with their past first-round draft picks (i.e. Reggie Williams and Matt Jones), and drafting Tebow would have undoubtedly brought immediate positive intangibles to the team.
Second, it would have excited the fan base. Yes, there were polls that showed that current season ticket holders didn't want Tebow drafted in the first round, but it's not the current ticket holders the Jaguars need to worry about. They have many empty seats to fill, and if Tebow would have been drafted, you can bet many of those seats would have been sold.
Third, the Jaguars would have gained immediate national exposure which they lack big-time. Immediately upon being drafted by the Denver Broncos, Tebow's jersey became and still is the No. 1 jersey sold in the United States. Instead of orange and blue, the country could have seen teal and black instead. Outside of Maurice Jones-Drew, the roster of the Jacksonville Jaguars is relatively unknown.
And who knows—perhaps Tim Tebow could become a viable quarterback in the NFL. Yes, it would have been a risk, but what would another first-round draft pick bust really have cost the Jacksonville Jaguars? The short-term gain would have been well worth it.
Reason No. 5: Poor Ticket Sales
Those are a lot of empty seats....
The Jacksonville Jaguars have struggled to sell season and game-day tickets. During the 2009 season, all but one home game was blacked-out in the Jacksonville television market.
Some blame the economy, but the reality is that the fans are tired of a poor-performing football team. The least expensive ticket is $40.00, and for a family of four just one game with parking and concessions will spend a minimum of $250.00 to attend a game.
That's a lot of money to spend to watch your team die on the vine in front of your very eyes.
Reason No. 6: Lack of Star Players
MJD staring at the scoreboard. He's stunned, too.
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Maurice Jones-Drew was a second round draft choice in 2006, and thank God he wasn't taken in the first round or he would have been a bust, too.
Seriously, besides MJD, the Jacksonville Jaguars are an unknown football team outside of Northeast Florida.
Yes, there is David Garrard, but he is known because he's a mediocre quarterback who was picked to replace Tom Brady in last year's Pro Bowl. They had no one else to select, so Garrard got the nod.
Have you ever heard of these wide-receivers? Tiquan Underwood, Mike Thomas, and Mike Sims-Walker. Perhaps the latter, but he's not your starting fantasy football wide-receiver. If he is, then your fantasy team needs help.
Reason No. 7: Poor Free-Agent Pickups
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The Jacksonville Jaguars are notorious for poor free agent selection. Do the names Drayton Florence and Jerry Porter ring a bell?
Again, the GM can be blamed for selecting those free agents, but it's the coaching staff that must work with them.
In 2010, the Jaguars brought in Aaron Kampman from Green Bay, and has done well so far. In his first season with Jacksonville, he has 1.5 sacks through three games.
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With the 2010 season spiraling out of control after getting embarrassed two weeks in a row, it's time for Wayne Weaver, the owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars, to consider letting Jack Del Rio go. Going into the season, the thought was that Del Rio would have to take the Jaguars back to the playoffs in order for him to keep his job.
Sitting at 1-2 with the Indianapolis Colts coming to town next, the Jaguars are staring down the barrel of becoming 1-3. There is still time for Jacksonville to turn things around, but the outlook is very bleak.
The Jaguars not only need a new head coach, but they also desperately need a franchise quarterback. If Weaver did choose to cut his losses early and dismiss Del Rio, he could name an interim head coach and plan for the 2011 NFL Draft. Surely they would earn an early first round pick with a poor 2010 record, and the quarterbacks coming out of the NCAA for the 2011 season are quite attractive.
Most likely, Weaver will continue to allow Del Rio to coach the Jaguars through the 2010 season, and at the same time watch fan turnout begin to dwindle once again while his team becomes more and more of a laughing stock across the league.
The one-time feared Jacksonville Jaguars defense is a joke, and the offense is stagnant. The future is bleak for the current Jacksonville Jaguars, and talks of an imminent move to Los Angeles is sure to crank back up again.