Jack Del Rio addressed the issue of player misconduct in a strong and forceful manner on Monday afternoon, telling reporters that misbehavior by his players will not be tolerated.
"We had a couple of guys who violated their responsibility to his football team, to this organization, to this community. I've met with Wayne (Weaver). We see it the same way. We want to make sure we send a message that this type of behavior is not going to be tolerated," Del Rio said.
Offensive tackle Richard Collier will remain suspended for this week's game in Tennessee and rookie linebacker Justin Durant will join Collier on the suspended list. Both players were arrested in the wee hours of Saturday morning in separate incidents. Collier was arrested for driving under the influence and Durant was charged with resisting arrest.
Team owner Wayne Weaver offered this statement on Monday:
"I am disgusted with the irresponsible behavior that some of our players have demonstrated. They are embarrassing themselves, our organization and their peers. Any time there is alcohol involved and being out in early-morning hours shows a lack of respect for the code of conduct we expect from everyone in the Jaguars organization. These players will face significant discipline and that discipline will be more severe for repeat violators. Players are and will be subject to fines, loss of game checks and not playing in our games," Weaver said.
Starting left offensive tackle Khalif Barnes, who has been involved in multiple brushes with the law over the last year, was benched for the start of Sunday's game in New Orleans due to a team rules violation Del Rio did not disclose.
"He will be fined and playing time was withheld," Del Rio said of Barnes.
"If you're going to be out late making choices that totally fly in the face of what you should be doing to prepare for a football game, you're going to pay the price," said Del Rio, who added that he reminds his players every Friday about making smart choices as kickoff approaches.
"I remind them we're 48 hours from game time. To be out and be making the choices that were made and not getting the rest was very disturbing to me. Even if this hadn't been revealed, there's no way these guys could've played well on Sunday. How can you play without sleep?" Del Rio said.
The Jaguars head coach said he has three main rules: "Be on time, be prepared and be professional. A pro wouldn't make the decision of being out late," Del Rio said.
He feels "confident this will get the message across. We're counting on our guys to be good people. I believe you have to have guys you can count on. If you have a guy you can't count on, eventually you have to replace him," Del Rio said.
The coach received more bad news when an MRI exam revealed that starting right guard Chris Naeole had sustained a season-ending injury in Sunday's game. Naeole ruptured a quad tendon.
Hope is that quarterback David Garrard will be able to return to the starting lineup in Tennessee this Sunday, after missing two games with a high-ankle sprain. Garrard will return to practice on a limited basis on Wednesday, according to Del Rio.
"We'll see how his ankle responds. We think he'll be available but I don't want to make a decision now. I would think I'd need the whole week to determine," he said of Garrard, who is likely to be a game-time decision.
Del Rio promised that his defense will play better in the second half of the season, following a day when the Jaguars surrendered the most total net yards and yards passing in team history. There were 20 missed tackles and 15 missed assignments, according to Del Rio. The Jaguars defense is currently ranked 24th (16th against the run and 26th against the pass) in the league, which is the defense's lowest ranking at the midway point of the season since Del Rio became the team's head coach in 2003.
"If you can set aside the drama of the last two days, we're 5-3, our quarterback is getting healthier and we have a lot of football ahead of us. What we want is in front of us," said Del Rio, who is determined to put player misconduct behind him.