A New Beginning…Again
By Luke Sims
The Jack Del Rio Era is continuing. Whether you think Jack should be fired for his terrible meltdowns in recent seasons or if you think he is the players’ coach the team needs is irrelevant to the decision of Wayne Weaver. His decision to retain Jack Del Rio was smart. While many of the fans believe Del Rio should be canned, including myself since he did not live up to my AFC South Title or 11-5 record requirements, Wayne Weaver knows that making impulsive decisions is no way to run a multi-million dollar NFL franchise. Even with the Jaguars’ fledgling sales in their meager market, Weaver is able to be patient. Drastic changes, like cutting the coach, quarterback, GM, etc… must be made with care.
Following the Tom Coughlin Era, Weaver restructured the organization. Jack Del Rio was brought in to save a franchise that had been prominent in its early seasons. But, despite the hot start, was quickly fading. Knowing that a change was needed for a young franchise to survive, Tom Coughlin was cut, and Jack Del Rio was hired. Tom Coughlin, as we all know, left for New York and came away with a Superbowl ring. That decision, well documented with declining wins for seasons, was premature. With the cutting of the head, the entire beast that is the Jaguars organization had to be revamped. Rebuilding has begun.
Jack was given the opportunity, with Shack Harris, to build a football team to his liking. It was an open book. The Jaguars responded well to his leadership and his philosophy was reflected in the team reaching number 2 defensively and making the playoffs three times. But following ’08, it became apparent that the approach simply wasn’t working. But, rather than cutting off the head again and causing the whole organization to restructure, Weaver is now keeping Del Rio (Now the longest tenured coach since the NFL Merger without a division title) and shifting the responsibilities of the personnel within the franchise. Why would Wayne Weaver do this? Everything about Del Rio’s record screams mediocrity. The defense has finished middle of the pack many of the years, the offense never really gets off the ground despite a stellar rushing attack, the special teams remain a bright spot but aren’t enough to carry the team. So, why keep him? I believe that Weaver thinks he can win a Superbowl with Jack at the helm.
If Weaver were to cut Teflon Jack and move on, the team would have to be changed inside and out. It wouldn’t be some quick fix that involves hiring from within that causes a seem-less transition. Jack holds the locker room in his grasp. His players love him. They play for him more than they do for their own salaries (though I’m sure that is a big motivator as well). While another coach may win the locker room over, they would have to start from scratch and may have to fight against team animosity at the loss of their leader. Besides, Weaver doesn’t want another Coughlin problem to occur. In 2002, the Jaguars went 6-10 for the second straight season. I don’t think anybody believed Coughlin to be capable of a superbowl. He had choked during the big moments in the better seasons (’97-’99) and had outright collapsed the final three seasons, winning a mere 19 games over three years. But after he left, Coughlin proved us wrong. He won the big game. What if Jack Del Rio were to do that too? Sure, it’s smart to keep the team intact during re-building, but can Jack really win a Superbowl?
What do you think?
– Luke N. Sims