Jack Del Rio's message to his team is very basic: "Play good football."
The Jaguars play the 3-7 Jets at Giants Stadium Sunday. Not much is at stake, other than each team's honor and professionalism.
But it is New York, and the Jaguars would like to establish a degree of respect in the world's largest media market, and Jaguars quarterback Byron Leftwich could win some rookie of the year votes with a big game against his college buddy Chad Pennington.
"I always thought it was a great opportunity. You're going up and playing in front of a huge media market," Del Rio told reporters following today's practice. "We'd like to finish strong. We'd like to start that now."
The Jaguars' remaining six games offer the hope of improving their record significantly. Four of their remaining six opponents currently have losing records, and the New Orleans Saints are 5-5. Only New England has a winning record and appears headed for the playoffs.
This is the Jaguars' chance to make this season better. After all, this is a team with a new coaching staff, a rookie quarterback and a roster full of new faces. This is a team coming off three consecutive losing seasons and apparently headed for a fourth, but it could elevate its stature for the 2004 preseason forecasts with a little dash over the final six weeks of this season.
"I'd rather our focus be on playing well. Usually praise comes when you play well," Del Rio said.
The Jaguars aren't completely healthy for this Sunday's game. Fred Taylor is still listed as probable, but Taylor hasn't given a lot of positive vibes about recovering from the sore knee that forced him out of last week's game in Tennessee in the fourth quarter. Taylor painted a rather iffy picture to reporters today for the second day in a row.
Meanwhile, Del Rio stands by his "probable" forecast. "He's 'probable' because it's very likely he'll go," Del Rio said.
Cornerback Fernando Bryant was added to the injury report today, after reporting back stiffness. Bryant has been listed officially as "questionable."
Del Rio says he and his team are focused sharply on the Jets, and he doesn't want to begin offering overviews of the season, but he did evaluate his first-ever draft class.
"We feel like we had a good first day. We added three guys who are starters for us right now and look like they'll be starters for a long time. On the second day, we added some guys who are good depth for us," Del Rio said.