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Weaver wants Jags to be elite


A morning-long meeting with his head coach clearly left Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver re-energized.

"I feel good about our meeting. I feel good that the team of Gene Smith and Jack Del Rio is going to take this franchise to an elite level," Weaver told reporters at a press conference on Tuesday afternoon that provided the results of the much-publicized meeting.

It was a meeting most thought would center on a reported offer for Del Rio to become the head coach at his alma mater, USC. Weaver said the USC job was never discussed.

"Didn't even talk about that. I wasn't interested in that. I wanted to know if Jack wanted to be here and was committed to this franchise," Weaver said. "My expectation is that this team will compete for the playoffs this year. There are things we have to do differently. We're just moving forward."

Weaver was enthusiastic and forceful in his talk to the media. He touched on several subjects, but the main theme of his message was a heightened expectation for the team's on-field performance. He set a goal of becoming one of the NFL's elite teams. Clearly, that message was sent earlier in the day to Del Rio and General Manager Gene Smith.

"How do we take this franchise to an elite level?" Weaver said of his question to Del Rio and Smith. "We've been an average football team. A lot of that responsibility belongs on this guy's shoulders. I have to accept responsibility, along with Jack and Gene Smith."

Weaver blamed himself for allowing the personnel mistakes that sabotaged six drafts to continue for too long. Weaver, of course, made sweeping changes in the personnel department last winter, promoting Smith to the highest-ranking job in franchise history. The result was, arguably, the best draft in team history.

"We did miss badly on some draft choices. We missed badly on free agents," Weaver said. "I've made the best decision for the franchise. No, average is not acceptable."

Del Rio has three years remaining on a contract that'll pay him another $15 million. When asked if the money the team would've owed Del Rio factored into the decision to retain him, Weaver answered sharply, "No."

Weaver wanted to hear a commitment to new and better ways of doing things, and apparently he heard that in Tuesday's meeting.

"Our fans aren't as close to the decision-making process as I am. I have to be careful not to have a knee-jerk reaction that would set the franchise back even more. I'll turn 75 this week. I want to win. I want to win one of those (Super Bowl) rings," Weaver said.

"There are three people that can make a difference in this football team," he added, referring to himself, Del Rio and Smith. "We're all on the same page now."

Weaver also touched on these subjects:

Quarterback David Garrard—"I think David Garrard can win for us. We have to do some things differently there, in terms of preparation."

The offense— "Let's look at our offense. Let's be self-critical. Let's look at other offenses. Come on, we can get better."

Drafting the best available player— "We haven't always done that. Let's be true to what we've said we're going to do."

Playing games in Orlando and London— "Once we get past this (next) Collective Bargaining Agreement, we'll probably go to an extended season (18 games). If we do, it would make sense to play a game out of market (Orlando). Would I consider London? We're not going to play in London this year."

Del Rio spent the afternoon in meetings with his coaches, who no doubt were relieved to hear the results of their head coach's meeting with Weaver and Smith.

"Jack is on board. He knows there are things we have to do better," Weaver said.

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