Jacksonville Jaguars: What Firing Jack Del Rio Means to the Franchise
In an ideal world, this would have happened two years ago, maybe three.
Team owner Wayne Weaver finally did what was right for the franchise and fired the Jaguars head coach after a 3-8 start to the season.
Jacksonville was officially knocked out of playoff contention this past Sunday after a 20-13 loss at the hands of the Houston Texans.
For most fans in the Jacksonville area, it was something they have been wanting to see for some time. Ineffective play, a stagnant offense and a rookie quarterback that looks afraid of his own shadow have been the constant reminders of a season that has continued to spiral out of control for this franchise.
Del Rio was given an ultimatum last season following an 8-8 finish by Weaver that the team needed to be in playoffs or there would a new coach in 2012. Weaver didn't wait to pull the trigger and made the decision following speculation that a change might have been made Monday instead of Tuesday.
Defensive coordinator Mel Tucker will assume the head coaching duties until the end of the season, the Florida Times-Union reported on its website earlier today.
Del Rio was the head coach for the team for nine seasons, only reaching the playoffs twice and scoring one victory in the postseason in that span.
The move is one the team needed to make.
The Jaguars rank at the bottom or near the bottom of every offensive category in the league with the exception of rushing offense where Maurice Jones-Drew has been the workhorse for this unit, gaining 1,040 yards on the season.
The changing of the guard could do several things for this franchise as the team prepares for a Monday night tilt with San Diego this week.
Del Rio's firing could reignite a fanbase that has waned. While no home game this season has been blacked out, there have been issues with ticket sales, where the team has either bought remaining tickets or has asked corporate sponsorship to pick up the tab and use them in the public and private sector.
It could also have a profound effect on the team's starting quarterback, rookie Blaine Gabbert.
Gabbert, the 10th selection in the draft, has played by far the most inconsistent game of the five rookies who have seen significant time behind center this season. He has looked lost in offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter's system. He also does not have the consistent receiving corps the likes of Cam Newton, Andy Dalton and Christian Ponder have been afforded.
There is no word yet if Koetter will be retained in the same capacity next season.
This move also gives the team a chance to begin plans for 2012, which will include a high draft pick, several opportunities to make a splash in free agency and find a successor to Del Rio who can give the offense and the team a push that it needs to challenge for an AFC South title next season.
In naming Tucker as Del Rio's successor right now, Weaver has handed the keys to the team to a man who has the Jaguars ranked fourth overall in the NFL in defense. He has worked to mold free agents like Paul Posluszny, Clint Session and Matt Roth into a better rush-stuffing and pass-rushing unit.
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