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Will the 'plan' work?


Let's pin our hopes on these words: "We have a plan."

They are the words coach Jack Del Rio used yesterday to diffuse the "bomb" that was Mark Brunell trade rumors. Del Rio looked his media in the eye Tuesday afternoon and said, "We have a plan, but I don't think it's in the best interests of the Jaguars to discuss it with the rest of the country.

"How we do that is a private issue," Del Rio added of efforts to shape this team's final roster. "There's only so much you can disclose. When it works out, it'll become obvious to everybody."

They are the only words from Tuesday's combative press conference that really matter. Forget about who was calling whom a liar. Forget about the language Del Rio used to dodge the real issue and avoid the real truth. Forget about the posturing and politicking. Forget about the little coach vs. media chicken fight. What really matters is Del Rio's reference to the "plan."

Yes, the Jaguars have a plan. That's the good news. We're not going to be made privy to that plan, and that's understandable, but at least it's comforting to know there's a plan.

The quarterback position will roll out according to the "plan." Kyle Brady got a three-year contract extension and was handed another $2 million of bonus money yesterday, raising his remaining amortization to a dangerous $5.1 million, per the "plan." Tony Brackens' contract was re-structured and he will be kept or cut according to the "plan."

Back in the spring, the "plan" called for the Jaguars to address their long-range future by making Byron Leftwich the seventh pick of the draft, even though that same "plan" had just spent $6 million in signing bonus on a 32-year-old defensive end and considerable other amounts on stop-gap veterans such as Jermaine Lewis, Keith Mitchell and Marc Edwards.

The "plan" has produced a quality draft class that makes the future look bright, but just when we thought this team was all about that future, it turns around and trades what we believe to be a seventh-round pick for a veteran special teams player.

So, what is the plan? That's obvious. No need for full disclosure. No need for events to work themselves out. The "plan" is as obvious as the confusion it's causing, but those who want to purge the roster and sell out for the future don't get it, and neither do those who believe in the philosophy of live for today and to hell with tomorrow.

Why don't they get it? Because the Jaguars' plan subscribes to neither concept. The Jaguars' plan is a hybrid of both concepts. The Jaguars' plan is to build for the future while addressing the present.

Wow! That's some plan! Apparently that's why as many as 14 rookies may make the roster of a team whose salary cap boasts $29 million of remaining amortization in four very veteran players (Mark Brunell, Jimmy Smith, Tony Brackens and Kyle Brady).

But this reporter can't help but wrinkle his brow. He's one of those "build for the future" guys who just doesn't get it. He'd rather be the 2002 Baltimore Ravens, who purged their roster and dived head-first into rebuilding and now, a year later, find themselves being touted as the favorite to win their division. This reporter would rather see the Jaguars sink their teeth into a thick piece of leather, as the Buffalo Bills did two years ago, and keep biting down until the season is over, with the idea that piece of leather will be unnecessary for the following season.

But that's not the plan. The "plan" makes no provision for pieces of leather. The "plan" is all about pain-free recovery.

Wow! What a plan! But will it work? That's the only question that really matters. In time, the answer will be obvious to us all.

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