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Say what you mean, then accept responsibility


At best, it was a warning; at worst, it was a threat.

"It's coming," defensive tackle Gary Walker said.

What does that mean? he was asked. "I'll talk to you about that on Wednesday," Walker said.

Well, today's Wednesday, but no one is expecting Walker to talk "about that" today, and that will only fuel more fan criticism of coach Tom Coughlin and his well-meaning defensive coordinator Gary Moeller.

If "it's coming" is to suggest a player rebellion to Moeller's defensive scheme, then just say it. Be a man about it. Don't hide behind innuendo and confusing commentary. If you're going to be the spokesman for the defense, then let there be no doubt about your beliefs. This is an opportunity to be a leader. Stand up in the team meeting room, tell the coach what you believe, then pay the fine. Take one for the club.

This is not something new. Men who care very deeply about their pursuits do not act as sheep. They will speak out, and it wouldn't be the first time it's happened in Jaguars history. It happened late in the 1995 season. In '96, when Coughlin cut Andre Rison, there were major waves of dissent in the Jaguars locker room. Then they began a seven-game winning streak that carried them to the AFC title game.

It can happen that way. Dissent, when expressed constructively, can bond a team, but it can also have the opposite effect. Most will tell you this is not what a team on a five-game losing streak needs.

Dissent is great for clearing the air and it may pump some life into a team short-term, but ill feelings are not a building block for long-term success. The best teams express support, belief and respect for the ultimate authority of the coach. Clearly, the Jaguars locker room was lacking in those virtues this past Monday.

Maybe the players are right. Maybe Moeller's scheme, the one that allowed the Titans to drive 59 yards for the game-winning touchdown this past Sunday, is not conducive to playing winning football.

The players want us to believe they are capable of greater acts of physical accomplishment than Moeller's scheme would permit, and we want to believe them. They claim they can't be jaguars in a scheme fit for pussycats.

But there are inconsistencies in that logic. Why were they so successful with Moeller's scheme against the Steelers on opening day, and against the Titans in week two? Why were the Titans able to drive 77 and 80 yards in the third quarter Sunday against a defensive scheme that did employ aggressive-type techniques such as man-to-man coverage and blitz?

Coughlin may have no choice but to order Moeller to give the players what they want. You wanna attack? OK, we'll attack. To acquiesce to the players' "demands" would force them to accept responsibility for their performance, instead of using Moeller as an excuse for losing.

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