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Del Rio at ease with Smith

Join senior editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.

Sharon from Port Charlotte, FL:
Your editorial talked about having a great quarterback. Personally, I do not think we have one in Leftwich. What's your opinion on your own editorial when it comes to your own team?

Vic: I can only think of one quarterback, Dan Marino, who was described in terms of greatness after just his second season. Tom Brady was a Super Bowl MVP in his second season, but his stats were very ordinary and he was considered more of a caretaker at the position than he was a player of greatness. Of course, he has since developed into the best quarterback in the game and may be headed for an even higher plane. Byron Leftwich has certainly not attained the level of greatness, yet, though he has had great games. His performance in Indianapolis this season was great, and he played at a very high level against Pittsburgh. If he is on his way to a great career, then we should see more evidence of great performances next season.

Don from Jacksonville:
After the Super Bowl, the Patriots will lose both coordinators. How will this affect them for next season?

Vic: Bill Belichick's expertise on defense should allow the Patriots to overcome the loss of Romeo Crennel, but replacing Charlie Weis will be another matter. Weis did a fantastic job in developing Tom Brady. In the Patriots' two Super Bowl seasons, Weis had very little in the way of a running game, but he found a way to get it done. What the Patriots will miss most is the relationship between Weis and Brady. It is at the heart of the Patriots' success. Yeah, I think losing Weis is going to hurt the Patriots. I'd hate to be the guy who replaces Weis. It's a job that won't have much upside to it, but it'll sure have a lot of downside.

Bharat from Jacksonville:
Can we expect a similar type of offense to the one Norm Chow employs at USC, with the hiring of Carl Smith? Granted, Smith has been an offensive coordinator, but perhaps he'll bring several elements of the USC offense here?

Vic: This is professional football. College football is a different animal. Ask Steve Spurrier. Carl Smith will bring some things with him from USC, but don't expect to see Norm Chow's offense in Jacksonville next season. Norm Chow couldn't bring Norm Chow's offense to Jacksonville. This is the NFL, not the PAC-10.

Brad from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
If I may, I would like to address the fair-weathered fans that we have here in Jacksonville. You make me sick. There is nothing more stomach-turning than fans like you. You don't even deserve the title of "fan" because you're definitely not. For those that bleed teal, as myself and friends do, there's no doubt that we'll be at every home game. That's what real fans do. Why is there an excess of these finger-pointing sissies here in Jacksonville?

Vic: Hey, Brad, what's the deal? This is the offseason. What got you so angry? We have a long way to go until next season. Are you gonna make it? Is this a cry for help?

Rory from Chestertown, MD:
What do you think about Carl Smith and how effective was he in New Orleans while he was there? Also, what do you think his effect will be on Leftwich?

Vic: Carl Smith was a member of an all-star coaching staff under Jim Mora with the Philadelphia Stars of the USFL. That staff included Dom Capers, Vic Fangio, John Pease, Smith and a young defensive mind named John Rosenberg. Who is John Rosenberg? Well, you might remember that in one of these columns a while back I told you that Rosenberg was the inventor of the zone-blitz. Mora took most of that staff with him to New Orleans, where Fangio and Smith were the coordinators. Capers graduated to become Pittsburgh's defensive coordinator and Pease made his way to Jacksonville as Tom Coughlin's defensive line coach and, later, defensive coordinator. Smith remained Mora's offensive coordinator for 11 years. Right away that tells us that Mora thought highly of Smith. During Smith's time with the Saints, he was hamstrung by the team's inability to acquire a top-flight quarterback. Under Mora, the Saints were about defense, with Rickey Jackson and Pat Swilling leading the way. The Saints had a guy named Jack Del Rio, too. The goal of the offense under Mora was to not screw it up. In other words, don't turn it over. Play to the strength of the team, which was defense. The Saints had good ground games under Smith and the combination of a good running game and a power defense made the Saints a physical team. Are you starting to see what the attraction is? That's what Del Rio wants the Jaguars to be, a physical team on both sides of the ball. In Cleveland, Smith was quarterbacks coach and it's felt he got the most out of what Tim Couch had to offer. Again, it was not an optimum situation. At USC last season, however, Smith had Matt Leinart, who won the Heisman Trophy. Del Rio believes Smith will be very good for Byron Leftwich because Smith has never failed to get the most out of what he has had at quarterback. I think this is an interesting hire. Del Rio had talked to Norm Chow but Chow preferred to remain where he is. Scott Linehan was the hot name but not all of the information coming out of Minnesota was positive. This was a difficult year to hire an offensive coordinator. Del Rio is very comfortable with his selection of Smith. He's a veteran guy. He's a guy with a solid background. Given the circumstances he's faced at quarterback, for all we know he may have over-achieved with the Saints and Browns. Remember what he did with Kelly Holcomb in the 2002 playoff game at Pittsburgh?

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