Jaguars: Be Patient, Del Rio Has One More Year
The key word in that last sentence is “seems.”
When any team finishes the regular season on a four-game losing streak, anger and frustration are the two emotions to follow – occasionally with a pitchfork in one hand.
But, perception, whether it is from fans or the media, is why the Jaguars’ 2009 season seems so disappointing.
After an 18-15 win over the Buffalo Bills, a three-game winning mark and a 6-4 record were in hand, and expectations for the Jaguars focused immediately on the playoffs.
All other predictions, which were stated well before the season even began, were quickly forgotten.
Playoffs became the only word that mattered.
And, once a season culminates with blown expectations, the blame game commences. Sometimes, the starting pistol isn’t even used.
Once the blame game is in full force, a mass of fingers point in the direction of the team’s head coach. It is the equivalent of an in-bounds pass at Duke University’s Cameron Indoor Stadium. (Hopping up and down is optional.)
As of Monday, Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio is the participant of Blame Game 2010 in Jacksonville.
Less than one minute into Del Rio’s end-of-the-season press conference on Monday, he stated, “Knowing that we’re not going to sell ourselves short, at the same time, you have to be realistic.”
In other words, Rome was not built in a day.
A team consisting of 33 new faces – 16 of which were rookies – was able to hover around a .500 record deep into the season.
Jacksonville’s nine 2009 draft picks played in 115 total games. The top five selections – Eugene Monroe, Eben Britton, Terrance Knighton, Derek Cox and Mike Thomas – started in a combined 64 contests.
Those numbers say more than a coach or player could. The Jaguars need to take advantage of this experience so Del Rio can keep his job after the 2010 season.
In Del Rio’s seven years at the helm, he has won one playoff game and coached his teams to 57 wins and 55 losses in the regular season.
In four of Del Rio’s seven seasons in Jacksonville, he has led the Jaguars to a record of .500 or better – eclipsing the 11-win mark twice.
Stats like that this time next year will matter little unless the playoffs are mentioned as well.
Although there were nine new head coaches in the NFL this season, Del Rio is tied with Cincinnati’s Marvin Lewis as the fifth most tenured head coach.
However, 10 coaches have more playoff wins than Del Rio.
Of course, in the world of professional sports, money is the name of the game. Del Rio’s contract buyout requirement of a little more than $15 million means he is safe this offseason.
That is, unless, former Florida quarterback Tim Tebow forgoes the 2010 NFL Draft for a head coaching job in the NFL.
Also, in my opinion, playoff wins need to follow the berth. Currently, the four head coaches – who are longer tenured than Del Rio – have at least five playoff wins. Plus, all four – Jeff Fisher, Bill Belichick, John Fox and Andy Reid – have Super Bowl appearances.
If history and current patterns serve us correctly, Del Rio needs a playoff win. Being competitive can no longer satisfy a fan base and the organization’s owner.
Del Rio has a little less than 365 days to prove he is worth keeping as the Jaguars head coach.
But, for Jaguar fans and Jack Del Rio, it seems like patience is a must.
Richard Miller is a national broadcaster for Jacksonville Jaguars’ home games on Sporting News Radio. Additionally, he can be heard on ABC 1320 WBOB in Jacksonville at 5:45 p.m. on Wednesdays with The Jacksonville Observer Radio Show.
Richard contributes to Inside the Game with Robin Valetutto every Saturday from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Currently, Richard is writing David Lamm’s biography entitled Lamm at Large: The David Lamm Story, which will be available in 2010.
You can e-mail Richard at Richard.Miller@jaxobserver.com