Coach Del Rio seems to have had it with his team.
Wednesday’s practice brought about some changes. The most notable was the absence of Team Captain, MLB Mike Peterson.
Coach Del Rio is not giving the reasons as to why he sent Peterson home for the day, but it has been speculated that the move came about because of Peterson’s celebration of flexing his muscles after making a tackle on Sunday against the Bengals while trailing 21–3.
Peterson is obviously a major force on the defense. He leads the team with 85 tackles, but he was not the only player to be sent packing on Wednesday.
While Peterson was sent home, some of the other players were forced to pack up their lockers. In an effort to regain the team chemistry of the ’07 Jaguars, Coach Del Rio switched locker assignments.
To mix things up, he moved defensive players to the offensive side and offensive players to the defensive side of the locker room.
Running back, Fred Taylor, seems to disagree with the way in which his coach feels about the team chemistry. “We enjoy each other's company from a respect-for-each-other standpoint, the chemistry is fine. Maybe on the field, we're a little out of sync. But that's the chance you take when you release guys and contract opportunities come about for guys and they're moving on because it's such a business," Taylor stated.
The locker room now has a new dynamic. Along with the reassignment of at least six lockers, Coach Del Rio is not allowing the players to watch television, play games, or listen to music in order to rid the team of any unnecessary distractions.
The team chemistry has obviously been missing. John Henderson’s frustration was apparent on Sunday, but this frustration began in the off-season.
The absences of Marcus Stroud and defensive coordinator Mike Smith have been apparent. Peterson has voiced his discontent about not receiving a contract extension. As Taylor’s above statement explains that the Jaguars took that chance.
While Derrick Harvey missed training camp to get a huge contract, the veterans were working. While David Garrard received the largest contract in franchise history after one season as a starter (although he did not start every game), Peterson has been a major component of the defense since 2003.
These decisions made by the Jaguars organization combined with the off–field distractions this season have created an environment that is obviously not conducive for winning.
If it were as simple as locker reassignments, then watch out for the weekly reassignment of lockers by 31 other teams. As the Jaguars prepare to head to Detroit for Sunday’s match-up against the Lions, we will all be watching to see if the team can be a more unified group and walk away with a win.
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