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The goal should be singular


The dead zone begins now.

Sorry, folks, but the next six weeks represent the equivalent of re-entry blackout. There will be brief communications, to announce a draft pick signing or a roster move, for example, but I wouldn't count on a lot of titillating news between now and the start of training camp, and that's just the way Jack Del Rio wants it.

Your dead zone is the players' vacation zone and it is one of the scariest times of the year for head coaches. Having been former players themselves, they know the last-licks-before-camp attitude that prevails.

As Del Rio was speaking to the media on Thursday, a car headed out of the players' parking lot. The music coming from that car was pulsing so forcefully that Del Rio couldn't help but sneak a look. Concern was written all over his face.

The coach no doubt cautioned his players on Thursday, and they no doubt looked him right in the eye and nodded their heads: Yes, Mr. Cleaver; no, Mr. Cleaver.

Hey, guys, be careful, please. OK?

This is a vacation zone Del Rio would like to see pass as quickly as possible. Things are good with this team. You don't want it to have too much free time on its hands to do two things: flirt with danger and read its press clippings.

Yeah, that's a danger, too. The national media is saying awfully nice things about the Jaguars, and that's fine as long as the Jaguars don't start believing they're as good as their press clippings say they are.

It'll ruin any team. It starts believing it can't lose. It starts believing in destiny. That won't work.

The next six weeks can be spent on fun and self-adulation, or it can be spent on introspection and re-dedication. The latter is what's required.

When the Jaguars return for the start of training camp, they have to bring with them the hungry attitude that wins championships. By the time July 26 rolls around, talk of expectations has to have ended and the pursuit of those expectations must begin.

Tom Coughlin was fond of the words "crystal clear." They are good words for this team because the goal for the 2008 Jaguars should be crystal clear: win the AFC South Division title.

Don't talk about record or homefield advantage or the Super Bowl. Those are distractions. The goal is singular: win the AFC South. That's it; nothing else. Just start with that.

Winning the AFC South, of course, means winning AFC South games. That's what this team hasn't done; it hasn't won often enough within its own division. It should then be noted that the Jaguars will play all three of their division foes in the first month of this season, and two of those games will be on the road. A slow start won't work. Come to camp ready to go.

If I may be so bold, these are my parting thoughts to any player on this team who might read these words: Be careful and spend your vacation time wisely. Rest your body, enjoy your family and prepare your mind to win the division title.

See you in training camp.

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