Jaguars News | Jacksonville Jaguars - jaguars.com

A day for change

11-29-2011-weaver2.jpg

One regime changed Tuesday, while another continued.

Jack Del Rio, the Jaguars' head coach since 2003, was relieved of those duties by Jaguars Owner Wayne Weaver early Tuesday afternoon, the same day Weaver announced he had signed General Manager Gene Smith to a three-year contract extension.

Defensive coordinator Mel Tucker will replace Del Rio on an interim basis.

"We did that because I felt it was unfair to leave Jack twisting in the wind," Weaver said during a noon press conference at EverBank Field, adding that, "I told Jack I appreciated the nine years he served the organization, and his contributions to the organization and the community.

"But we deserved better and the community deserved better. We've been very average over the last few years."

Weaver during the same press conference announced he has agreed to sell the team to Shahid Khan, the owner and Chief Executive Officer of the Flex-N-Gate Group.  Weaver said Shad was not involved in the Del Rio decision, but that he will have a large role in the decision regarding the next coach.

Weaver said the impending announcement regarding the sale of the team made the move to fire Del Rio difficult.

"The timing was awful," he said, but added of Tuesday's moves in general, "I really feel good about the changes we have made."

Weaver said he it may have been more fair to fire Del Rio last week, but said he didn't want to cause confusion with an announcement of a sale several days later.

Weaver said he was specific with Tucker that it was an interim position, and assured Tucker he would have an opportunity to interview for the head job.

"I think he certainly deserves that and he has earned that," Weaver said.

Tucker, in his third season as the Jaguars' defensive coordinator, took over defensive play-calling duties from Del Rio this past off-season. After finishing 28th in the NFL in total defense last season, the Jaguars are fourth in total defense this season.

Tucker said while he is "always motivated to do the best I can, right now my focus is on these next five weeks," and not necessarily auditioning for a head coaching job.

"There's a certain brand of football we need to show out there each and every week," he said. "It's relentless. It's attention to detail. He's high energy. It's high impact. In terms of my future as a head coach, that's for another day. Right now, my focus in on this team.

"The focus is going to stay there. Only time will tell what opportunities I have in the future."

Tucker said while he plans to make changes, one of those changes will not be at quarterback.

Blaine Gabbert, the No. 10 overall selection in the 2011 NFL Draft and the starter the past nine games, will remain the starter, Tucker said.

"I feel confident in Blaine," Tucker said. "Blaine's the quarterback now. He's the quarterback of the future. That's how it's going to be. I see upside in him. He can make all the throws we need him to make. He has tremendous arm talent. He's smart. He's mobile. He has all the tools.

 "I see progress in him. There's no doubt in my mind that he's the guy for us for the future."

Tucker said he will spend Tuesday and part of Wednesday meeting with the coaching staff "to see what we need to do moving forward to move this team."

Tucker said while he will continue to call defensive signals he will move from the booth to the sidelines in his role as head coach.

"It doesn't change much," Tucker said. "I've called plays from the field before. I feel very confident we'll be able to get that done. A lot of times when you call plays, the plays have been laid out during the week. It's a matter of executing that plan. We're going to decide ahead of time how we want to attack and what we want to do.

"I'm confident in my ability to do that from the box or on the field."

Smith, who began as a scout with the organization in 1994, became the team's general manager in 2008. Weaver said retaining Smith was important to preserve continuity.

 "I'm going to leave it up to Gene to make a decision on his staff, but I felt like it was really important to have the stability and continuity to get Gene done," Weaver said. "He shares my passion for (Jacksonville) and Gene is a big part of that future."

Smith turned down a contract extension this past off-season because many of the Jaguars' front office staff and officials in his scouting department were facing uncertainty because of the lockout.

"I didn't feel at the time I deserved a contract extension with the situation we were in as an organization," Smith said. "Everything in life is about timing. Time will ultimately define you in decisions you make and how you live your life."

Del Rio coached the Jaguars to a 68-71 record in nearly nine seasons, and the Jaguars made two postseason appearances during his tenure, making the playoffs as a wild-card entrant following the 2005 and 2007 seasons.

The Jaguars, a year after leading the AFC South midway through December, lost five of their first six games, and are 3-8 through 11 games. They were eliminated from AFC South contention with a 20-13 loss to the division-leading Houston Texans Sunday.

Weaver said he takes responsibility for much of the Jaguars' on-field performance, and that he believes the Jaguars are not far from being competitive.

"I'm optimistic about what the future holds for this franchise," Weaver said.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content

Advertising