Jack Del Rio wouldn't reveal strategy or lineup changes, but you don't have to have insider information to know the focus of the Jaguars' preparation this week will be on stopping the run. That's what the Jaguars didn't do in their 34-21 loss in San Diego, and Del Rio was as critical of his run-defense's performance as he was a year ago following a loss to the Tennessee Titans.
"I don't care to get into any forecasting," Del Rio said on Wednesday when asked what he expects in the way of a response by his team this Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs. "Anyone who studies the tape would understand it's important that (the players) buy into how we do things," Del Rio added.
Allowing 176 yards rushing is not how the Jaguars have done things under Del Rio. That figure represents San Diego's rushing output and the worst day of run-defense in Del Rio's 21 games as the team's head coach. In his postgame press conference, Del Rio referred to that performance as "embarrassing" and an "ugly display" of football.
A year ago, following a week-seven loss to Tennessee in which the Titans controlled the ball in a 17-play drive to kill the clock, Del Rio went off on his team in his postgame address. The following week, the Jaguars held Baltimore's Jamal Lewis under 100 yards. It was the birth of a run-defense that rose to second in the league by season's end.
After five weeks of this season, the Jaguars have fallen to 20th in run-defense and are about to face a Kansas City running game that is second in the league. Will the Jaguars make this their turnaround game?
"We're looking forward to the challenge. This is a game to get back on track against a good offensive team," Marcus Stroud said.
Stroud is the Jaguars' Pro-Bowl defensive tackle, but for last week's game he was moved to defensive end. It was a lineup change that prompted an inquisition of sorts by reporters at today's press conference. They wanted to know if Stroud will remain at end or move back to tackle, but Del Rio wasn't forthcoming with that information.
"I don't care to divulge how we will use our strategy," Del Rio said. "We'll put together a plan. We'll continue to devise plans that give us a chance to win on Sundays. As for our strategy and how we use our guys, I'm not going to talk about that."
Stroud said, "Whatever position he has me play, no problem."
If Stroud re-joins John Henderson at tackle, the end positions would fall to Rob Meier, rookie Bobby McCray, Lionel Barnes and Brandon Green. McCray said he expected to get more playing time last week and is intent on winning Del Rio's favor in practice this week.
"I'm trying to get the start. I have to make a couple of more plays; play better than I have been doing," McCray said.
"Any time you lose a game, you can't wait to get back out there," Del Rio said. "We're going to be steady; prepare to be a good football team, prepare to play good football," he added in what has become his weekly mantra.
"We can't get as high as the average fan when they're excited about a win, and we can't get down. This is a long season. Every game is difficult, every game is a challenge," Del Rio said.
"It's a wake-up call," Stroud said of the loss to the Chargers.
Last year's team heard the alarm. Will this year's?
In other news from Wednesday's press conference, Del Rio announced that tight end Kyle Brady is expected to play this Sunday, after missing the first five games of the season due to finger surgery. Brady was to participate in Wednesday's practice.
Del Rio also responded to San Diego coach Marty Schottenheimer's claim Jaguars center Brad Meester was guilty of a cheap shot on Chargers defensive tackle Jamal Williams. Del Rio said "it was a legal block," and "when people look at the play they'll wonder why (Williams) wasn't thrown out."