The "family trees" of NFL coaching staffs are often fascinating and worthy of deep study that usually reveals a lot about the head coach's fundamental philosophies of offense, defense, drafting, etc. One look at Jack Del Rio's "family tree" reveals a decided Baltimore bent, for example, and that means the Jaguars are probably always going to be a team built on aggressive defense and overall physical play.
But Del Rio's "tree" goes much deeper than Baltimore and the one year he spent under John Fox at Carolina between Baltimore and Jacksonville. Del Rio played and coached under Jim Mora, and played for Denny Green, Jimmy Johnson, Frank Gansz, Bum Phillips and John Robinson. That's an esteemed group of coaches who offer some very distinct identities. Robinson is famous for "Student Body Right." Johnson's Cowboys teams ran the "Lead Draw." Gansz is one of the pioneers of special teams play and it's no coincidence that hot-shot special teams assistant Bob Ligashesky is a "Gansz Guy" who worked with the old master at Pitt last season. Mora and his staff at New Orleans was the same group that introduced the "Zone Blitz" to professional football while with the USFL's Philadelphia Stars.
Del Rio may be a young coach but his "tree" is rooted deep in the soil of the game, and when you come from as rich a background as Del Rio has enjoyed, you gain knowledge quickly.
Across the field from Del Rio on Sunday will be Colts head coach Tony Dungy, for whom Del Rio played while with Green and the Vikings. So, include Dungy in Del Rio's "tree," and that brings a whole other world into Del Rio's background. It's a world Del Rio may not even realize exists in his football personality.
Dungy played for and coached under Chuck Noll in Pittsburgh. Noll, of course, has won more Super Bowls than any other coach. You wanna know Noll's "tree?" Well, he played for Paul Brown and coached under Sid Gillman and Don Shula. How's that for a "tree?"
Dungy was an over-achieving reserve safety for the Steelers in the late-'70s. On Noll's staff was a middle-aged wide receivers coach named Tom Moore who was rapidly becoming Noll's top offensive assistant.
In a game in Houston in 1977, the Steelers lost Terry Bradshaw and Mike Kruczek to injuries and didn't have a third quarterback on the roster. Noll tabbed Dungy as his emergency quarterback. Dungy, of course, had been an accomplished option-type quarterback in college at Minnesota.
On that day in Houston (Dungy intercepted a pass and threw an interception), a relationship between Dungy and Moore began and all of these years later Dungy and Moore maintain what may be the best and most productive head coach/coordinator relationship in all of football. Dungy, the defensive genius, and Moore, the offensive guru; disciples of Noll, who learned under Shula and Brown.
It's all in Del Rio's background, even if he doesn't know it.
Now here's 10 things the Jaguars have to do for Del Rio to beat Dungy on Sunday.
1. Stop Edgerrin James—It all begins with James. If you don't stop him, Peyton Manning will do as he pleases.
2. Pressure Manning—OK, let's get to the crux of the matter. You gotta get some heat on this guy.
3. Sack Manning—The Patriots dropped him four times in last year's AFC title game.
4. The QB must go down hard—Yeah, that's right, more pressure, and don't baby him. It's a tough game, eh?
5. Be physical in the secondary—The Jaguars must establish early that there's a penalty for catching a pass.
6. Run the ball—Time of possession is still the most effective means for defensing Manning.
7. Follow the leader—This is Byron Leftwich's team now. Let him lead the way.
8. Play with energy—Somehow that was lost on this team in San Diego. The win over Kansas City brought it back into focus. The Jaguars won't win if their energy isn't greater than the Colts'.
9. Play with an attitude—Manning gets too much respect. No more Mr. Nice Guy.
10. Seize the moment—That's what the Jaguars did in Tennessee, now they have to do it in Indianapolis. Half of the old guard is gone. This is the Jaguars' chance to move out the other half.