Jack Del Rio made a comment to reporters this week that invited research, so I did some.
First, here's what Del Rio said: "I like to kind of refer back to things I know from a historical perspective. I think if you go back and look at the 1989 Dallas Cowboys, and look at that starting offense, then fast forward to 1992 when they won their first Super Bowl and count how many starters changed. That team went from 1-15 to winning a Super Bowl. I think you'll find it's a very small number that changed. I was there in '89 and saw what happened. I saw the abuse that was directed toward the players that later were showered with accolades when they were Super Bowl winners. I remember, in particular, the offensive line."
Shortly after making those comments, Del Rio amended his timeline from '89 to 1990, Jimmy Johnson's second year as head coach. The Cowboys were 7-9 in '90. Del Rio amended his timeline because '90 was the year Emmitt Smith was drafted.
OK, I did the research and I found that seven starters on offense – Michael Irvin, Mark Tuinei, John Gesek, Nate Newton, Mark Stepnoski, Jay Novacek, Troy Aikman and Emmitt Smith – in '90 were starters in '92 when the Cowboys won the first of three Super Bowl titles in the '90's decade.
So Del Rio's point about developing continuity in offensive personnel is accurate, but that's not what I found intriguing about my research. Here's what interested me.
• Eight starters on offense in '92 came to the Cowboys through the draft. The defense, however, had several pro personnel acquisitions, such as Charles Haley, Tony Casillas, Thomas Everett, Vinson Smith, Issiac Holt, James Washington and Ray Horton.
Hmmm, that not only sounds familiar, it's almost a blueprint of what the Jaguars have done in assembling their roster under Del Rio; build through the draft on offense and use free agency to patch holes on defense.
Now here are 10 things the Jaguars have to do to beat the Seahawks:
- Stop Shaun Alexander—He's the guy who makes the Seahawks go; he's their weapon. He rushes for yards and touchdowns. Stop him and you stop Seattle.
- Show the playbook—We went a whole preseason waiting to get a look at the Jaguars' new offensive playbook. It's time we see it.
- Up the tempo—An updated weather forecast puts heat and humidity back into the forecast.
- Press your advantage—This is a home game and playoff contenders are expected to win at home.
- Protect Byron Leftwich—You can't throw the ball deep if you don't get time to do it.
- Ease Fred Taylor into the action—The Jaguars can't afford to lose their star running back because he did too much too soon.
- Win special teams—The Jaguars had young players make their roster on the strength of their special teams play. Let's see it in a game that counts.
- Pressure Matt Hasselbeck—That's why Wayne Weaver spent $10 million on Reggie Hayward.
- Win the turnover battle—Openers always have a few turnovers in them. The team that forces those turnovers will probably win the game.
- Answer the bell—Expectations for the Jaguars this season are high and the pursuit of those expectations begins this Sunday.