Head Coach Jack Del Rio told Jaguars season-ticket holders on Tuesday that his team's goal in 2010 is to win the AFC South Division title.
"Win our division. That's the number one goal for our football team. The number two goal is to have every guy, coach, player, everybody affiliated with this organization to be giving his best and sacrificing for our cause. I believe that if we do that and sacrifice for this cause of winning our division, then we've got a very good chance to get that done," Del Rio told more than 6,000 season-ticket holders that participated in a "Fan Forum" telephone conference call.
It was the second such "Fan Forum" in this offseason. General Manager Gene Smith answered fan questions in a pre-draft "Fan Forum."
Del Rio fielded questions from fans for about an hour. Subject matter ranged from emerging leaders on the team to expectations for improved defensive play.
"Well, we didn't play well on defense last year. It's probably been stated enough. It's gotten to the point where it really is kind of bothersome to continue to hear because it's what was and we're working on what will be, and I think anybody that watched mini-camp this past weekend understands that our approach on defense has changed. We are going to be aggressive and I fully expect us to be a very strong unit this year," Del Rio said.
The Jaguars' first four draft picks this year are defensive linemen and the first three picks, defensive tackles Tyson Alualu and D'Anthony Smith and defensive end Larry Hart, give the team hope for an improved pass-rush.
"Without question, we're counting on that and I believe they will. I believe each one of them has some characteristics that we're looking for. I think Alualu has the most complete package of power, size, speed, athleticism, ability to change direction, all the things we talked about just a minute ago. I think with (Smith), he's a guy that if it were not such a deep tackle draft, if he comes out in a lean tackle year, he could've found himself at the bottom of the first round, top of the second round. In terms of talent, that's where he belongs," Del Rio said.
"When you watch Hart, he's got natural bend to him. There are some guys that can turn the corner and bend and kind of contort their body with flexibility and the ability to run on the inside half of their foot. Some guys can do it, some guys can't, and he can do this. So he showed some natural pass-rush ability that we're excited about," the coach added.
Del Rio fielded a question about the quarterback position.
"We feel good about the quarterback position with David (Garrard) and Luke (McCown) being guys that can help us win. Some teams elect to have that third guy on their roster and at this point we don't foresee that being the case here. Now that doesn't mean that if there was a guy out there that we thought was worthy of that spot that we wouldn't take him and have the ability to keep three, but at this point we're not looking at it that way," said Del Rio, who denied an Internet report that the team was interested in trading with Denver for quarterback Brady Quinn.
Del Rio also answered questions on these subjects:
A perceived weakness at safety.
"Well, yeah, a potential trouble spot or maybe you have potential for great competition to have that settle itself. I think Gerald Alexander had an outstanding weekend. He played well last year for us. He was the most consistent performer over this weekend. Now that's one weekend into it, but he's a player we think can do some things for us. Reggie Nelson stepped it up and had a good weekend. He rotated in there some. Anthony Smith was injured and didn't do a lot this weekend. Sean Considine has been a very solid guy for us from the day he walked in the building and he'll be in competition back there. We took a shot at (Darren) Sharper, so it's not like we're not open to bringing in more competition, but we do have a competitive group there and I do believe that as we increase the pressure up front and we tighten up things in terms of what we're expecting and demanding now out of the guys that are going to play for us, I do believe we're going to get good production. I do believe we're going to be a really good defense and those guys are going to do their part, whichever ones end up starting for us."
An overall evaluation of the wide receiving corps.
"Well, I think the one guy we have that is clearly the best guy in the group is Mike Sims-Walker. He had a nice mini-camp this weekend. I think after that you've got Mike Thomas and Jarett Dillard; they would be two and three in my book from last year, and those guys are now here working every day with David and getting the timing down. I think after that you've got a bunch of guys that are fighting for spots and time. Kassim Osgood is a guy that's going to be a whole lot better in pads. He's a big, physical guy; he's a special teams demon and he's going to give us a physical presence at that wide receiver position. It's going to be a battle for who's going to be four, five and six. So we'll sort through it."
A need for improved play in the secondary.
"I think (fans) will notice the amount of attention that was given to our defensive line in the draft. How are we going to help the secondary? Well, by giving the quarterback less time. Obviously there are some things that we're going to do strategically in terms of tighter coverage, but the biggest difference that you're going to see in 2010 is that the quarterback is going to be under more duress and I think you saw that with our emphasis on the defensive line in the draft."
"If you look at us special teams-wise, there are two things we have to do better. Josh (Scobee) has to be more accurate; we have to kick field goals at a higher percentage. That's one thing we have to do. Our coverage units are pretty solid. What we've got to do is get some more juice in our return game. So we really want that returner that can give us the home run."
"I think those leaders are really emerging right now in our offseason program. I think David Garrard has really taken significant steps forward this year and I think part of it is verbalizing more than he ever has. I know that he's worked hard at giving that thought in terms of what would he say, and then the actions; I spoke about that, the things that he is doing which allows him to say, 'Guys, listen.' When you're doing it right and you're stepping forward and then you have something to say, they're going to listen. I think along the offensive line Eben Britton has been outstanding in terms of the way he has kind of taken charge, in terms of not only affecting himself but others around him, so he's been very positive in that vein. For MoJo (Maurice Jones-Drew) it's important to understand that everything he does, people are watching."
"It's a tough schedule. I think the fact that we're opening at home, it's going to be terrific to have Denver here at one o'clock on Sept. 12. Then I love the fact that right away we go out to San Diego. I love that. Last year, we 'couldn't travel west.' We're going to hear about that 'can't travel west,' all that. So when we come back from that people say, 'Yeah, OK, now you've got Philly coming to town and you're really going to find out.' OK, then we'll find out and then the following week, 'Well now you're really going to know because Indy's coming in.' So it's a great opportunity for us to set the tone for a wonderful year."