The Jacksonville Jaguars – A House Divided?


It is Tuesday January 12, 2010 and Wayne Weaver is holding a press conference. When asked where Jack Del Rio was, Wayne answered:

"Personally I didn’t feel like it was a press conference for Jack and I to sit together, (singing) Kumbaya."

I am trying to understand Jack Del Rio, I really am. Jack could have been available for the press conference and the rally, nothing prevented it. Wayne Weaver believes in Jack and I want to too. Maybe if I try walking in Jack’s shoes I can gain some understanding.

The season has ended. He had fun coaching this team. He took a group of strangers and rookies and made them believe in themselves and as a team they made a run at the playoffs. The playoffs didn’t happen, but that doesn’t matter, the team came together. Next year looks good. He was excited and ready to begin work after a week off. He believed he did a very good job with what he had.

As soon as he was gone, this stuff started:

"From my sources close to owner Wayne Weaver, the man who extended Del Rio’s contract, Weaver is not happy with how his coach treats people, his work ethic, his involvement in the community and the direction of the franchise. Mike Lombardi Jan 3, 2010"

Then he read this:

"According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, there is a “feeling in the building” in Jacksonville that Jack Del Rio will have a difficult time emerging from Tuesday’s meeting with owner Wayne Weaver as the team’s head coach."

And this:

"FOX’s Jay Glazer reports that some members of the Jaguars’ organization have been “killing” coach Jack Del Rio behind close doors. Glazer says there’s “a lot of smoke” coming out of Jacksonville as Del Rio prepares to interview for his job this week. Del Rio’s chances of staying on appear to be no better than 50:50."

And this…

"Per the source, first-year G.M. Gene Smith “consistently stood up to Del Rio this season and exposed his divisive management/coaching style to the owner.” The source also says that Del Rio “checked out early” many weeks during the season. The problem, we’re told, is that there’s a disconnect between Del Rio’s “guys” and the rest of the coaching staff. Posted by Mike Florio on January 6, 2010 8:08 AM ET"

OUCH! Where is this coming from? What did he do to deserve this? He was a team player and worked his butt off all season and now this is his reward? Why? Any wonder why a press conference and rally are out of the question? The man was stabbed in the back while he was on vacation. .  My guess is he buried himself with work and tried to shut it all out.

Something is happening behind the scenes, something ugly. If I am right and Jack is miffed, is he right? I think so. I would be.

But sometimes you bring this on yourself. Maybe the people hitting him have a point.  Jack Del Rio doesn’t always leave the best of impressions. Here are some outside views and opinions I found.

Consider this report from the Senior Bowl 2009:

"Let me just sincerely applaud the Cincinnati Bengals coaching staff for actually caring about coaching the game this week. I have been impressed with their intensity and attention to detail. On the other hand, Jack Del Rio couldn’t care less about this game. Del Rio ended practice today 10 minutes early, the coaches and players were lackadaisical on the field, and I felt like the lack of preparation for practice really showed. I don’t think the Jags coaching staff really cares at all. If you didn’t want to be here, then don’t coach in this game and waste a great opportunity for these seniors in this prestigious week. By Matt McGuire Jan. 23, 2009 Walters Football"

Consider this from a Charity Golf event:

"We suggest that every member of the Jacksonville Jaguars print this story for upcoming use, in the event that any player on the team misses a meeting during training camp, or thereafter. The 20th Annual American Century Celebrity Golf Championship is being held this week in Lake Tahoe. (It’ll be televised by our friends at NBC.) Current and former NFL coaches participating in the event include Dick Jauron, Ken Whisenhunt, Mike Shanahan, and Jack Del Rio. One of our moles tells us that there was a mandatory players meeting last night. And Del Rio is the only one who didn’t show. Posted by Mike Florio on July 16, 2009 2:02 PM ET"

This appears to be common knowledge:

"Del Rio has never hesitated to change assistants but seemed headed for a stable offseason. Indications from inside have long been, however, that there were two tiers on the staff — those who qualified as JDR’s inner circle and those who didn’t. By Paul Kuharsky Jan 15, 2010"

To be fair to Jack, the South won the Senior Bowl and being a no-show at a Charity Golf meeting is not a big crime, but it shows that Jack sometimes conducts himself in ways that leave people wondering about his work ethic, his treatment of people and his community involvement.  I think these might be fair things to bring up, just not behind his back and while he is on vacation.

So is Jack being exposed inside the organization or is he simply a victim of a week of the long knives?  I don’t know. I don’t even know who in the Jaguar organization would be doing this.  I do know this, the man can’t do his job and watch his back. His coaches and players can’t do their job wondering if they are on the inside or being banished to the outside. The situation is not conducive to a well run organization and a turnaround in fortunes for the Jaguars. Winning seasons and teams can develop from nasty political situations, but it doesn’t last and is the hard road to take.  A good environment allows everyone to be their best and their best is what we need.

The ugliest war is a Civil War and Lincoln said “A house divided cannot stand”. He was right. Jack and Wayne both said the Jaguars need to agree on what the team identity is and everyone needs to get on the the same page. I think that sounds like a call for everyone to come together for the good of the organization. YES! The Jaguar organization can’t sell itself to the fans if they can’t sell themselves to each other.   

This battle inside the Jaguar organization has to stop. I don’t care who wins, I know who will lose, the fans, the team and the city.  Politics inside the Jaguar organization has serious consequenses and innocent victims outside the organization.

Maybe a chorus of Kumbya is exactly what is needed.

– Terry O’Brien