Jack Del Rio maintains his faith in the Jaguars offense.
"Everybody wants instant results. We believe we have to continue to work at our trade. I don't believe in blaming people. That's not my style. I have every confidence we're going to have a good offense this year to go with a good defense to be a good football team," Del Rio said at Monday's press conference.
Del Rio's words should offer some solace to fans concerned about an offense that has struggled through the first two preseason games. The first team offense has scored only 10 points, while having "scored" seven for Carolina this past Saturday night when the Panthers returned a fumble for a touchdown.
Jaguars fans, however, worry that the team's struggles in the preseason could be a harbinger for the regular season, and Del Rio said he understands the concerns.
"In anything we do, we want to win and we'll play to win, but there are other goals that have to be factored in: the health of your team, the development of your team, the evaluation of your team. It's tough because not everybody has the head coach's perspective and they shouldn't," Del Rio said.
"It's not like I've got my head stuck in the sand and don't know where we need to get better. I'm aware," he added. "Believe me, there's a process that must take place at this time of the year to develop your team for the season."
The Jaguars are half way through that preseason process. They'll take a 1-1 record into Saturday night's game against visiting Tampa, in what is generally considered to be the best and final test of the preseason. Del Rio said his team's starters will play into the second half. The preseason finale – at Atlanta on Aug. 31 – will be nothing more than a tune up in which starters will play briefly.
"We had too many penalties and when you're minus three in the turnover battle, you don't win many games," Del Rio said in capsulizing the reasons for the Jaguars' 17-10 loss to Carolina this past Saturday.
Starting quarterback Byron Leftwich played only two series and was replaced by David Garrard, who got significant playing time with the first team but met with disappointing results. Garrard was intercepted twice and his fumble while being sacked by Julius Peppers was returned 31 yards for a touchdown by Michael Rucker.
"It's a valuable experience for David. That's exactly what we want it to be," Del Rio said. "We can't be afraid to make decisions and be afraid to give people the chance to play because we're afraid of perception."
Del Rio praised Alvin Pearman for showing "another gear" on what would've been a 77-yard punt return for a touchdown, had it not been nullified by a Jaguars penalty. Linebacker Nick Greisen, pass-rusher Brent Hawkins, guard Vince Manuwai and wide receiver Reggie Williams also got praise.
"I know what he can do," Del Rio said of Williams. "As long as we're doing the things he can do and not worrying about the perception and the hype, I know he's a good, solid football player who can help us win games."
Del Rio might give his team's running game a harder look this Saturday.
"At some point you have to work on it. When the regular season begins, you'll see us put the offense together in its entirety. We're going to be a good running team," he said. We want to run the ball and we want to run it a lot."
Del Rio was asked who the Jaguars' featured running back would be on opening day.
"Fred's our starting running back. I don't know why there's a Fred watch," Del Rio said.
Jaguars offensive tackle Mo Williams is getting a lot of attention from fans. Williams has had some penalties and allowed a couple of sacks, which has fans concerned. Del Rio also expressed faith in his right tackle.
"I think Mo Williams is working hard. He had a tremendous offseason. I think he had a magnifying glass on him on a couple of situations," Del Rio said.
The team is in a typical in-season training regimen now and Del Rio reported that WR Matt Jones, LB Pat Thomas, K Josh Scobee and TE Todd Yoder have returned to practice, while DT Tony Williams is out with a ruptured biceps and DT Marcus Stroud's in a walking boot after bruising his heel on Saturday.
S Gerald Sensabaugh (ankle), TE Marcedes Lewis (ankle), TE Brian Jones (knee), OL Dan Connolly (finger) OL Mike Williams (back) remain unable to practice. Del Rio said Williams' "back is a problem."