Success could be very relative if you are the head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2010. On one hand. you could argue you have a team still in the rebuilding mode. You could argue you have a schedule with less soft spots than last year. Or you could argue that you have a top tier NFL contract at $5 million per year which has 3 more years. Let’s face it, Jack Del Rio is once again challenged. Can we judge Jack Del Rio and the Jaguar team separately? How do we judge Jack correctly?
Before I move to the part about scenarios and conclusions, I must lay some things down. I really wish for Jack Del Rio to succeed in Jacksonville. I think he is a better HC then many these days think. I am angered by people who thought in 2007 said “he is a great young coach and leaderon the rise” but now say “he is one of the worst head coach of the NFL”.
I do have issues with him of course. For example the Jaguars inconsistency – which was has been the trademark of the Jags under Del Rio. I think this is partly his fault. Sometimes he gives out team captain positions a bit too easily but is calling out much better players later on. Some of his coaching hiring ended as bad choices in the past (Gregg Williams; Donnie Henderson and everyone’s “favorite” Jaguars coach- Ted Monachino comes to my mind.). Plus it seems when his team is on the meltdown (last games of ‘06; the last couple games of ’08; and the last 4 games in ’09) he doesn’t have the answers to turn the team around. There is a lot to question about Jack Del Rio.
We could also argue that he did a lot with what he had. With bad drafting; bad FA accusations; he produced 4 consecutive seasons finishing at or over .500. He is a great coach for young defensive players; and I can’t find any young player who does not love him. When he had the Jaguars were a dominant force between 2004 and 2007; the Jaguars had 2 strengths: running the ball and the defense. Although I gave credit to Mike Smith for a lot of that; I think it is fair to say Jack had a lot to do with it also.
So how do we judge Jack fairly? Let’s compare Jack to Jeff Fisher and see how he compares. Jeff Fisher signed a $5.75 million/year contract for 2008 – 2011. Jack signed a $5 million/year contract for 2008 – 2012. (Keep reading after the jump)
When Jeff Fisher signed his contract, his previous three years (2004-2006) he was 17-31, a .350 winning record. He had led the team to a Super Bowl in 1999, and two AFC South Championships before the three year drought. Since signing his contract, he is 31-17 for a .650 winning record. His lifetime record is .553. He is 5-6 in the playoffs.
When Jack Del Rio signed his contract, his previous three years (2005-2007) he was 31-17 for a .650 winning record. He had two playoff teams but no AFC South Championships. Since signing his contract, he is 12-20 for a .380 winning percentage. His lifetime record is .509. He is 1-2 in the playoffs.
If Jack Del Rio could go 10-6, 10-6, 12-4 in the next three seasons, his winning record during this contract will be close to Jeff Fishers lifetime winning percentage of .553. I think that is a reasonable measure in which to judge Jack. He needs to be a winning coach at $5 million a year, not a .500 coach, a winning coach. So just to set the bar a little lower, Jack must be on track for 30 wins or more in the next three years. If not, he is not a $5 million coach and never was.
So let’s see what he must avoid in 2010 to achieve our goal:
Not worse record then 8-8; if you go under that record, that is three losing seasons in a row. I don’t care how tough the schedule is, being a winner requires winning.
No big losing streaks! As I mentioned; Jack and his team produced meltdowns; especially in the second part of the season. This time you must avoid that Jack. Winners get it back quickly. They regroup, they talk to each other, they perform better. A long losing streak is losing the team.
Must stay alive in the playoff hunt until you can-probably until Week 17! Winners never stop thinking about the goal. They stay alive and fight to win critical games. They take their losses but come back when it matters. They win when they are supposed to! The Jaguars must stay excited about themselves and keep people exited about them (ticket sales); and that is the only way to do it. Starting fast will be very very critical this year!
Defense must improve in a big way! This is where Jack found personal success, on the defense. He was a standout performer and he must translate that to the team. As I said that will be the best barometer for me not (just) the record. If we see once again games when the defense cannot keep the lead the offense many times built up then I don’t think we have a wining coach.
So what is the measure of success for Jack Del Rio in 2010? Winning! Be a winner, show off your team as winners. Can we measure Jack seperately than the Jaguars? NO! I still think Jack Del Rio can lead this team back where they were between 2005 and 2007. I hope the head coach will accept and answer to this challenge so well that he can keep his job in the 9thseason as a Jaguars head coach. Which is by the way would be +1 more season then Tom Coughlin lead this team…Right now; just as the current Giants head coach back in 2002; Jack Del Rio is facing a very; very critical year. Let’s see how good he can answer to that task lying before him!