Jack Del Rio took a dive on Monday into the deep waters that are the team's offseason personnel moves. Del Rio was led into the conversation by questions in the print media's conference with the coach.
"It all depends on what hat you're wearing," Del Rio said when asked if free-agent acquisitions Jerry Porter and Drayton Florence were worth the money the team spent on them. "If I'm wearing the financial hat, you can make the case for wanting to save your money. As a coach, I welcome whatever talent we can assemble."
The Jaguars spent $22 million in acquiring Porter and Florence in free agency and the two players were prominent in Sunday's 21-19 loss in Cincinnati. The Jaguars signed Florence to take the starting right cornerback job and allow Brian Williams to move to safety, and Porter was signed to be the team's number one receiver. At midseason, however, Florence has been playing "nickel" back and Porter has but three pass receptions for 44 yards. He was David Garrard's target on a failed two-point conversion pass that would've tied Sunday's game had it been complete.
"He'll get more and more opportunities," Del Rio said of Porter, who is recovering from hamstring surgery in July.
The Jaguars signed the two players to address what were believed to be critical needs. The team was swimming in salary cap room, which helped make the decisions easier.
"They certainly addressed certain needs. We saw an opportunity to add two players at positions of need. Nobody knows what the future holds. If you're looking back … I'll take whatever guy is healthy," Del Rio said.
Monday began a period of intense scrutiny about what's gone wrong for the Jaguars this season. Coming off the team's first playoff win in eight years, the Jaguars were an easy pick to return to the playoffs and some "experts" even picked the Jaguars for the Super Bowl. At midseason, however, they are 3-5 and left with little hope of returning to the playoffs.
What's wrong with the Jaguars? It's a question everybody seems to be asking.
"It's not what we envisioned but it is what we've earned," Del Rio said of the team's record. "What's most important to me is how we respond. First and foremost, we must stick together.
"Coaches coach and we must do all we can to eliminate the uncertainty. We need our players to play fast and with confidence. The effort is good; the execution is not," he added.
How will the team steel itself against despair?
"That's where faith and conviction come in. It depends what your motivation is. I'm in this to ultimately bring a championship here and we're going to continue to battle. We need to put any talk of anything beyond the next opportunity behind us. The highs and lows of the league are for the fans and media. All you have to do is turn on the radio or TV to know there are different champions declared each week. You go from the penthouse to the outhouse pretty quickly," Del Rio said.
Why isn't team chemistry as good this year as it was a year ago, Del Rio was asked?
"That's the $64 million question," he answered. "You have to work toward it. It's an important thing to work toward.
"(Football) is an environment in which everybody wants somebody to blame. Everybody (wants) somebody's head on a platter. I'm not interested in that," Del Rio said.
Are the Jaguars' failures on the offensive and defensive lines the major reasons why the team is losing?
"I believe that's where it all starts. It all starts in the trenches and we'll keep working at it. We need to give David (Garrard) better protection so he doesn't get hit as much," Del Rio said.