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Ask the Coach, part one


Join special guest Jack Del Rio as he tackles the fans' tough questions. Andy from Jacksonville: I was at a Team Teal captains meeting Monday night and was blown away by Aaron Kampman. What a great speaker! He talked about the look in the eyes of the Packers players and how they knew they were going to win the game. He said he talked with a bunch of his Jaguars teammates the next day about getting that feeling that you aren't going to lose. Have you been around teams that just know they are going to win?

Del Rio: There's no question, but you can't manufacture it. It comes from down deep in your soul, a special place. It happens when a group of men come together and are bound and determined to accomplish something special together. I have experienced that in sports throughout my life and most recently with the Ravens in 2000. We had glimmers of that last year. What Aaron wants to see is for us to take that next step and that's part of our growth as a franchise. We need to take that next step.Joey from Oklahoma City, Ok.: Do you plan on doing the Oklahoma drill again this year in training camp?

Del Rio: I'll have to check with Vic first.Rob from Orange Park: I sometimes see your kid on the sidelines with you. What's it like coaching a game and having your kids there? Do you ever get to share the moment with them?

Del Rio: Yes, it's special. I have a photo on my computer that I have titled Priceless. It sums it up. Clay from Jacksonville: Jack, I just bought my season tickets and can't wait to watch the team. Vic always talked about "coachspeak." How long did it take for you to develop coachspeak? Did it come naturally to you or did it take practice?

Del Rio: As a coach there are certain lines you don't want to cross. You don't want to throw a player or fellow coach under the bus. You don't want to talk about specific schemes. There are times you get asked a question that you just can't responsibly answer like people would prefer you do. You end up giving some cliché or some type of coachspeak that basically fills the space but doesn't adequately address the question like some people would like to have the question addressed. Dustin Hager from Saint Cloud: What sort of hobbies do you enjoy in your free time? I've heard that because of the demand put on coaches by their respective organizations, they don't get to enjoy much free time.

Del Rio: I like to fish, golf and read. I also like to play games like chess and backgammon.Tom from St. Augustine: We keep hearing the 3-4 defense offers such flexibility that makes it difficult for opposing quarterbacks to read where the pass rush is coming from. Since we use the 4-3, what are the advantages of our system?

Del Rio: Football is cyclical. You have seen a return of the 3-4 defense in the league. It's not the first time it has gone through a cycle like this. We tinkered with it but we feel like we're better equipped to play 4-3 with our down linemen, in particular our two young tackles. Both defenses have seven people in the front and both typically have four guys in the back end. There's not a dramatic change, it's just one you get accustomed to playing against more so than the other. Right now our 4-3 is going to become something teams don't practice against as much. At some point it will become more difficult for them to handle because they don't see it as often. Kelton from Boise, Idaho: What is one piece of advice you would give to a young coach who is making his way up the ladder?

Del Rio: Make sure you are in it for the right reason. Too many people enjoy coaching on Monday mornings but don't want to spend the time necessary to really grind at it. It is a profession, but if it's something you have a passion for then go for it.Todd from Beaufort, SC: With everybody saying this is a deciding year for you with the Jaguars, will you still be aggressive on fourth-and-short near the 50 and in opposing territory?

Del Rio: (Laughing) Yes. I promise to remain true to who I am and part of that is being aggressive.Brian from Jacksonville: I'm really excited about the future of the Jaguars. I was wondering why you think the team has dropped off toward the end of the season the last two years. Does it have anything to do with the youth of the team and getting used to a longer, more physical season than college?

Del Rio: Yes, it absolutely does. Each of the last two years we have had a very young team and we've actually had younger guys that have hit the wall at the end of the year. In my own analysis, what I think I can do better is help the younger guys be fresher at the end. We did a good job of taking care of the older guys. But a lot of our younger guys were really spent at the end of the year. That is something we will address.Jerry from Lexington, Ky.: How much has your offseason planning changed from when you took over in 2003 and what you are planning this year?

Del Rio: Each year is different. The last couple of years I've really pushed this squad because we had a young team that we had to develop. We feel like we have developed quite a bit of this squad so the approach will be tailored to get this team prepared for the start of the year, be sharp when we start, but also have juice come December or January.Jeremy from Navarre: I've always noticed that players refer to you as "Jack" instead of "Coach." I understand the desire to create a more comfortable environment or relationship but do you think this illustrates a lack of discipline or does it blurs the line of who's in charge? What is your philosophy?

Del Rio: No I don't think it blurs the line. I always refer to Tony Dungy as "Tony," Dennis Green as "Denny" and Jimmy Johnson as "Jimmy." I certainly had a lot of respect for all those men. James from Margate, England: It was great to see Marcedes Lewis and Montell Owens in the Pro Bowl especially since you said in training camp that Lewis was the MVP. How proud are you of these men?

Del Rio: I'm extremely proud of all three of our Pro Bowlers. They all exemplify what we're looking for as Jaguars, not only on the field but in the community. I couldn't be happier for them.Tudor from St. Augustine: What happened to the slick black suits with the teal ties? Any chance you could sport the fresh suits at home games in 2011?

Del Rio: would say there is a good chance we will have it back this year, possibly a night game. We'll just have to see when the schedule comes out. One time you won't see it is a one o'clock kickoff in September unless they allow me to pick my fabric and tailor. I'm thinking a light teal seersucker would do the trick. Richard from Brunswick, Ga.: What is your favorite part of game day?

Del Rio: I love it all, the ups and the downs. I love the challenges of it and the competition.Justin from Orlando: Who from the 2010 draft class do you see making the greatest improvement from year one to year two?

Del Rio: Well, the one I'm most excited about is the one I didn't get to see, D'Anthony Smith. He's in phenomenal shape. We were really excited about him. I think getting him this year is like adding another draft pick. Andy from Saint Johns: As a head coach can you ever just a take a week off and totally clear your mind of any responsibilities?

Del Rio: No, but we do the best we can. Typically the best time for a break is in the summer just prior to going to training camp.Richard from Columbia, SC: You read the message boards and and there seems to be a lot of talk about improving the secondary and linebacker positions. Are we as fans wrong on this assessment?

Del Rio: Clearly we need to strengthen ourselves on defense and we will address that. Jason from San Diego, CA: Is there anybody that we as fans don't talk about much that made a lot of improvement this year?

Del Rio: I think if you're paying attention then you do know. Mike Thomas made loads of improvement and took significant steps forward. I thought Austen Lane got better and better as the year went on. I think over the last two years a lot of our draft class has been contributing in a big way. Tucker from Flatwoods, KY: With the uncertainty of the current labor negotiations, are you confident that your players will do the right things in terms of getting themselves ready to play and be in shape if there is any kind of lockout?

Del Rio: Yes. We have a great group of guys and they know we are close to building something special.

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