Jack Del Rio's comments on Monday about Matt Jones were a hint at the coach's mindset for this week's game in Denver. Del Rio challenged Jones to give a greater effort and then, on Wednesday, he challenged his team to pass what Del Rio referred to as a "great early-season test."
Coachspeak? No way. Coaches usually don't volunteer the word "test" to reporters because they know to do that is to invite a report card on Monday.
That's what Del Rio is going to get and, apparently, that's what he wants. Del Rio is challenging his team to pass the test and that means his team also knows to expect a report card from the coach.
Challenges surround this team:
• The offensive line is being challenged to revive a running game that's gone sour.
• Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew are being challenged to show some of the magic they flashed last season.
• Quarterback David Garrard is being challenged to continue to improve.
• The receivers are being challenged to do something that might be judged worthy of the time, money and draft picks the Jaguars have invested in this group.
• The defense is being challenged to do something about its humiliating dead-last position in the league's run-defense rankings.
• Del Rio is no doubt challenging himself and his staff to have this team ready to pass the test.
Here are 10 things the Jaguars have to do to get an "A."
- Run the ball—I don't care how many guys the Broncos commit to the line of scrimmage, block 'em. The Raiders pushed them all over the field.
- Throw deep—That's a time-honored formula: Run the ball and throw deep. You're not going to beat the Broncos corners with short stuff. They play too tight for that to work.
- Stop the run—The Jaguars' number 32 ranking against the run is making the Broncos' mouths water.
- Play like Jagwads—For whatever reason, the Denver media loves to bash Jacksonville. It backfired once, didn't it?
- Send a message—To the national media that professional football is alive and well in Jacksonville.
- Rush the quarterback—Jay Cutler is still a young quarterback and young quarterbacks can be forced into bad decisions.
- Think bye—Nothing's better than a bye week coming off a road win.
- Stay in touch—One team in the AFC South is going to be 3-0 after Sunday's games. It's important to stay within a game of the leader.
- Read the Rocky Mountain News—If that doesn't motivate you, you're dead.
- Just do one and three—Yeah, that'll work. Run the ball, stop the run almost always works.