So you want Jack Del Rio fired?

Canned?

Booted?

Sent packing?

Pink slipped?

Run outta town on a rail?

Tarred and feathered for good measure, too?

Whatever. I get your point. I recent caller to the Sports Final Radio” show – hosted 10 a.m.-1 p.m. weekdays by Jeff Prosser on 101XL sports radio – called Del Rio the NFL’s worst head coach, noting no other coach could survive eight seasons with Del Rio’s record.

I haven’t done any scientific research nor polling, but I’d bet Del Rio couldn’t get elected Duval County dog catcher. Well, maybe he could if it meant he’d give up coaching the Jaguars. Tom Coughlin was riding a wave of popularity compared in 2003 when he was fired by the Jaguars compared to the love given Del Rio these days.

Okay, say you could convince owner Wayne Weaver to eat the remaining two years of Jack’s contract ($5 mill per). Who’d you want to coach your Jaguars?

I’ll agree with you if you say Bill Cowher. He did compile a 149-90 record in 15 seasons running the Pittsburgh Steelers. There were two Super Bowl appearances and one victory included in his 12-9 playoff record. Cowher’s available and he’s hinted he might return to the sidelines. But for the time being he seems happy working in television.

The next most popular choice seems to be Jon Gruden, a look-a-like for the “Chucky” character in all of those horror movies who’s now building a successful TV career for himself. Here I draw the line and warn Jaguars to be careful what they wish for. Gruden has a charm that’s difficult for me to understand and a reputation that far outweighs his resume.

Don’t believe me? Look it up. I did. In four seasons with the Oakland Raiders he had a record of 28-26 in the regular season and 2-2 in the playoffs. When he was canned in Oakland he was called a liar by Managing General Partner Al Davis. He did win a Super Bowl in his first of seven seasons with Tampa Bay, having inherited a playoff team from Tony Dungy. I’ll give Gruden credit for the Super Bowl. I don’t want to be picky here. He obviously made the right calls and won the big ring.

But by the time he was fired in Tampa Bay his record was 57-55 (95-81 overall) and never won another playoff game. The Bucs were a wreck. I know Del Rio’s biggest and loudest critics point out how the Jaguars have a habit of late season collapses under Del Rio. Maybe Gruden showed Del Rio the blueprint of how NOT to finish a season. The ’07 Bucs were 8-4 and appeared playoff bound. They lost their three of their last four games, the last two being home losses to finish 9-7. It was worse the next season. The Bucs were rolling at 9-3. Then came a blowout loss for all to see in an NFL Monday Night Game. Then came an overtime loss and, finally, back-to-back losses at home to finish 9-7 and out of the playoffs. Bucs management had seen enough and, thus, set in motion the beginning of a promising TV career for Gruden. Just in case you’ve gotten confused, those last two seasons were lowlighted by a 1-7 record in the closing month.

As a footnote, if you’re among those who don’t like Del Rio because you think he is arrogant and a bit of a pretty boy, then you haven’t caught Gruden’s away-from-the-TV-cameras act. Many of those who know both would rather spend a week of lunches with Del Rio than have a cup of coffee with Gruden.

Another popular choice to replace Del Rio is Jeff Fisher, who up and quit as Tennessee’s coach earlier this season. I’ll admit I like Fisher. Like his style. Like his candor. But he did end his 17-year run as the Titans head coach by going 8-8 and 6-10. His overall record is 142-120 and 5-6 in the playoffs, but his team did have 10 – that’s 10 – non-winning seasons. Like Gruden, his reputation is better than his resume.

For the record, Del Rio is 63-63 in eight seasons as the Jaguars head coach. He’s 1-2 in the playoffs. It’s certainly not an outstanding record, but he did suffer through Shack Harris’ awful first-round draft choices for six years and has been part of Gene Smith’s rebuilding program for the last two. I’m okay if you don’t buy those reasons (excuses), but I felt compelled to mention them. Del Rio has had three winning seasons, two break-even seasons and three losing seasons. His teams have won at least seven games six times. Yeah, I feel your pain about the late season collapses: 0-3 in ’06 (8-8), 0-4 in ’09 (7-9) and 0-4 last season (8-8).

He isn’t building a hall of fame coaching career. No doubt about that. But his record is better than Marvin Lewis, who is 60-67 (0-2 in playoffs) in eight seasons with Cincinnati. Miami’s Tony Sparano is 25-23 in three seasons.

This isn’t a plea to save Del Rio’s job. I understand how hungry Jaguars fans are for a playoff-caliber team. I understand the frustration of Jaguars fans because of the ongoing ticket issues and how Jacksonville is the national poster city for struggling franchise. And, yeah, I understand Weaver (or any owner) for not wanting to pay someone $10 million for two years NOT to coach while having to pay a new coach.

I’m simply trying to open your eyes. It is difficult to win in the NFL. Is it better to make another major change and hope for the best or is continuity the best course of action?

I thought it was a mistake when Weaver hired Del Rio. He’d been an assistant coach for only four years and a coordinator for one when Weaver named him as Tom Coughlin’s replacement. It’s reasonable to think Del Rio didn’t have that much to do in running Carolina’s defense in ’02. Would new coach John Fox, who got the Panthers’ job because of his defensive coaching with the New York Giants, really begin his head coaching career by turning over the defense to a young assistant? Think Steve Spurrier having an offensive coordinator. Who’d really run the offense: The OC or Spurrier?

Del Rio has grown as a head coach in every area. Will he become a great coach? Really good coach? Don’t know.

But I know the Jaguars have bigger problems right now than their head coach. Can quarterback David Garrard elevate his game? Can rookie Blaine Gabbert become a franchise quarterback? Can anyone wearing teal and black put pressure on an opposing quarterback?

For the time being I’ve got Jack Del Rio’s back.

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Comments
  1. Terri says:

    No! I want Gene Smith fired and the jaguars foundation to stop giving money to planned parenthood…heck they even have blue cross blue shield giving now:(

  2. Stephen says:

    Thanks Terri for going completely off topic and making no point what-so-ever.

  3. Jay says:

    Wait what… We are going to fire Del Rio. He already is keeping his job. This seems like an article for December

    • lammatlarge says:

      This article is for the fans who are still calling for Jack’s job. Regardless of what Wayne has said or what has been reported, there is still a LARGE contingent of fans that want to see him go…and want a famous face to grace their sideline in his place. This article is for them, and now is the perfect time for it, if you don’t mind me saying.

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