Owner Wayne Weaver told reporters on Monday that his decision to retain Jack Del Rio as the Jaguars' head coach is based on a commitment the team made to a rebuilding process, and Weaver then made this bold statement: "Next year, we will be in the playoffs. I don't think there's any doubt about it."
Weaver spent Monday's morning hours meeting with "8-10 players." One of those players told Weaver "starting over would set this team back," the owner said.
Monday afternoon was spent in discussion with Del Rio and Weaver divulged the tenor of that meeting in his remarks to the media late Monday afternoon.
"We really missed badly in our early-round draft choices. There's nobody left from that 2005 draft class. We really set our franchise back with some poor draft choices," Weaver began in explaining his decision to retain Del Rio.
"After the 2008 season, I realized this team was in trouble so I overhauled our personnel department. We totally dismantled our roster. Our offensive position is pretty strong. Where we need some help is on defense and it couldn't be more clear than it was on Sunday, but we have a nucleus there," he said.
Del Rio was hired to replace Tom Coughlin following the 2002 season. The Jaguars have qualified for the playoffs twice, in the 2005 and '07 seasons, during Del Rio's time as coach and are 1-2 in the postseason under Del Rio.
"What Jack inherited in 2003, the roster was decimated and we chose to blow it up in 2009," Weaver said.
Asked if Del Rio is facing an ultimatum to make it into the playoffs next season or lose his job, Weaver said: "If we're not in the playoffs next year, there won't be many people around here.
"It had everything to do with the rebuilding process," Weaver reiterated of his rationale. I think we do have to draft a developmental quarterback, but David (Garrard) is our quarterback and we can win with David," Weaver said.
As he considered his options, he asked himself: "Am I better off to blow this up and start over with a new coaching staff? I think we're stronger by keeping these coaches together. We're two years into this. I don't think we're doing the same thing over and over again and expecting the same result."
Weaver said that during his meeting on Monday he asked Del Rio to make a few changes. One of those changes is that Defensive Coordinator Mel Tucker will be given back his full play-calling duties, which Del Rio assumed at some point early in the 2010 season.
"Jack will have a better overall view. I've been critical of our team not making adjustments during the game," Weaver said.
As for the team's 8-8 record, "You have to look behind that number. We're not an 8-8 football team. We're better than that," said Weaver, who added that "money had nothing to do with" his decision.
Weaver reaffirmed his commitment to keeping the Jaguars in Jacksonville.
"When I decide I'm going to sell the team, it'll be to someone who has the same passion I have for the marketplace. I'm going to leave this team in the position that it's an ascending franchise that will continue to grow," he said.
In his final remark to the media, he said: "The actual numbers are definitely going to be important next year."