Jack Del Rio reached the 50-win milestone of his head coaching career on Sunday, but it was largely ignored because it came against the winless Detroit Lions. Should Del Rio, however, win his 51st game this Sunday, it'll be long remembered.
"It means there's been a lot of work put in," Del Rio said of the 50 wins he's claimed in his five-plus years as coach of the Jaguars. "I'm looking forward to the next 50. I'm really looking forward to the next one. I'd like to get 51."
Del Rio was speaking specifically of getting his 51st win this Sunday against the visiting and undefeated Tennessee Titans. It's a game that's likely to define the 4-5 Jaguars season.
The Jags' flickering playoff hopes are on the line. With a win, they'll live to fight another day. With a loss, they likely would be left to play out the string.
"Good start to the second half (of the season)," Del Rio said of his team's 38-14 win in Detroit, the most dominant win by the Jaguars since last year's 49-11 victory over the Raiders on Dec. 23. "There are some things we feel like we can build on. Our offensive line deserves some credit; they've been taking some heat."
The victory capped a tumultuous week for Del Rio and his team. Mid-week disciplinary measures became a week-long story and the final chapter was written in Ford Field.
"I thought we had a great week," Del Rio told reporters on Monday. "I thought the team practiced hard and re-focused itself on the things that are most conducive to winning."
Running back Maurice Jones-Drew got the offensive game ball, largely for his three second-quarter touchdown runs. Linebacker Daryl Smith was the defensive game-ball winner for seven tackles, 1.5 sacks, two tackles for loss, two quarterback hurries and one pass-defensed. Gerald Sensabaugh was special teams game-ball winner for having blocked a field goal attempt and having made a touchdown-saving tackle on a Lions kickoff return.
"I don't ever consider difficulty. I only consider right or wrong," Del Rio said when asked about instituting his disciplinary measures. "I'm not worried about perception. I'm worried about the reality of this football team."
The reality is that the Jaguars have a chance to keep their playoff hopes alive by handing the first loss of the season to a Titans team that started the Jaguars' troubles this season by beating the Jags in Nashville on opening day.