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Del Rio fields questions


ORLANDO—Jack Del Rio said the Jaguars remain interested in Lavar Arrington, it's unlikely David Garrard will be traded, and the next step for the Jaguars is to win in the playoffs. Those were some of the remarks Del Rio made in Tuesday morning's coaches/media breakfast at the NFL owners meetings.

"At this point this year, I can't imagine a team giving us enough to be willing to trade him," Del Rio said of Garrard, the Jaguars' backup quarterback. "We're very confident we can win with David. We went out last year and secured him (contractually). I really like David as a person and as a player. When we needed him to step up, he did. That's a great situation, to have multiple people at the quarterback position you think you can win with."

Del Rio fielded questions for nearly an hour and he answered them all with the energy and freshness you would expect from a coach who is coming off a 12-4 season. When a reporter handed him a survey form on which Del Rio was to check off those teams he considered to be 2006 favorites, he included his own team among a large contingent.

"You can't win the Super Bowl without qualifying for the playoffs and the best way to qualify for the playoffs is to win your division. We want to win a championship," Del Rio said.

So what are the issues confronting the Jaguars in their quest to win a championship?

• The continued development of starting quarterback Byron Leftwich.

Leftwich made major strides in improving his touchdown to interception ratio last season. He was a more efficient passer and was playing the best football of his pro career when he suffered a broken ankle in week 12 that sidelined him for the remainder of the regular season. Garrard replaced Leftwich and led the Jaguars to five wins in the final six games.

"To go to the next level, we have to increase his completion percentage. We have to get him to get rid of the ball quicker. It's going to be important for him to make personal improvements," Del Rio said of Leftwich.

"I don't think it's a matter of changing his style. It's a matter of getting through his reads a little quicker … and not sit in there and take shots," Del Rio added. "We talked last year about wanting him to slide more in the pocket. He's never going to be Michael Vick, but he did slide more in the pocket. He only threw six interceptions and I'd love for him to only throw six interceptions again."

• What does Fred Taylor have left in his tank?

"I'd like to make sure we get back to some basic power-running football," Del Rio said. "Two years ago, prior to his (knee) injury, (Taylor) was having a great year. We think he has a chance to be better this year. Greg Jones has played well for us and we want to increase his opportunities. We like our backfield. We still think Fred has something left in the tank, but we like the guys behind him."

• Are the young players on offense ready to make the difference?

"We've invested a lot in terms of draft picks," Del Rio said, referring to skill-position players such as Leftwich, Reggie Williams, Matt Jones, Greg Jones and Ernest Wilford. "People ask me, 'Coach, when are we going to get a wide receiver (in free agency)?' We have a lot of wide receivers and we like them. We have to stick with them."

• Does last season's 12-4 record make for added pressure?

"I think there's always pressure. Everybody wants to win and wants to win right away. We've slowly been able to assemble a football team that's gotten better," Del Rio said.

"Last year, we placed ourselves among the top teams. We beat both teams that played in the Super Bowl. You have to get into the tournament, stay healthy and get hot. We weren't healthy and didn't get hot. The next step is to win," he added.

• With six picks in this year's draft, can you find what you need?

"It's a good draft. I think it's a deeper draft. It has numbers at positions we'd like to address. At some point in the draft, we're going to pick a linebacker. I don't think that's a secret," Del Rio said.

Is there a chance the Jaguars will sign Arrington to fill that void at linebacker?

"We have interest in Lavar. I had dinner with him. We gave him a physical and did our due diligence. I think he's looking for the right fit," Del Rio said.

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