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Del Rio draws line in the sand


A season of simmering frustration boiled over in a 30-12 loss to the Minnesota Vikings that Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio described as "unacceptable" and "embarrassing."

Before either team's quarterback had touched the football, the Jaguars trailed 7-0, and before Jaguars quarterback David Garrard had held the ball in his hands, Garrard and the Jaguars trailed 14-0. As it would turn out, the winning points were scored before the game was two minutes old.

So it was that Del Rio wore an intense expression when he walked into his postgame media conference, which followed what was likely a longer-than-usual postgame address to his players. In short, the fur no doubt flew.

"I found that performance today to be totally unacceptable and I take full responsibility for not preparing my football team," Del Rio told reporters.

Right away, it became clear this was going to be one of those memorable moments that puts a team at a crossroads, which is precisely what Del Rio did following Sunday's loss. Based on Del Rio's narrative, the time for change is at hand.

"To have a team that plays that sloppily, turns the ball over on the first play of the game and allows the defense to pick up the ball and run for a touchdown is embarrassing. I will evaluate everything and everyone including myself. I have to do a better job with my staff," Del Rio said.

There it is, folks. For all of you who are angry at the Jaguars' performance this season, there's your satisfaction; that the coach is mad as hell and he's not going to take it any more.

It's been simmering for some time, and this wasn't the first postgame press conference in which Del Rio's mood has been tense and resolute. It's just that in this one, he turned the heat up to full flame.

"All the words that need to be said have been said and heard. We're just not getting it right now. We'll continue to evaluate why. That process takes place anyhow, it just gets intensified when you're losing. Obviously, it's going to be intensified," Del Rio said.

At 4-7 and with no hope of this season leading to anything but a disappointing conclusion, tryouts for next season are underway. Players are playing for their futures.

"That's always the case. When is that not the case? This is professional football. The only way you stay in this business is to produce," Del Rio said.

There is obviously an implied threat in those words. It's a threat with which professional football players must always live, but that threat is especially sharp in Jacksonville, where the Jaguars' production continues to decline. The same team that rallied from an 0-2 start to take a 3-3 record into its bye week, has now lost four of its last five games.

This is largely the same team that scored two exhilarating wins in Pittsburgh last year and nearly pulled off a playoff upset of then-undefeated New England. So what the heck has happened?

That's a question Del Rio is determined to answer in what remains of this season.

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