Del Rio had the look of a defeated man at his postgame press conference following the Jaguars fourth consecutive loss Sunday afternoon.
"I hate losing, I'm sick of it, I'm sick of talking about the numerous reasons why we can't make some of the plays that will allow us to have a lot more fun. Like I said, I hate it, I hate losing. I'm sick of sitting here and answering questions about why we're not winning," Jack Del Rio said with tears in his eyes after watching his team blow a four-point lead with a myriad of mistakes.
As many Jaguars fans are aware of, Del Rio is the first coach in NFL history to lead his team for eight seasons without a single division title- and then get invited back for the ninth. There has been ups and downs throughout his tenure, exactly one more down than up as he has navigated his teams to what is currently a 66-67 regular season record. Del Rio's lone playoff victory following the 2007 regular season led to the contract extension which likely kept him from being dismissed after the last two disappointing finishes in 2009 and 2010.
Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver has always been loyal to his employees, perhaps to a fault as he's had just two head coaches in the team's 17-year history. Weaver's loyalty is not leading to results on the football field and an apathetic fan base is speaking by deciding to stay home when the Jaguars play at Everbank Field on Sunday's.
Jack Del Rio is working hard with the players he has, but the truth of the matter is that the team doesn't have enough talent at the skill positions to win consistently. Although Del Rio isn't directly responsible for all of the talent evaluation, he's the face of a frustrated franchise.
"That's part of the business," Del Rio said. "I've been in this game long enough to understand if you win you get praise. If you don't you get criticism. I understand that part of it."
Del Rio's players still have his back as they refuse to even hint that the team is even the slightest bit unprepared on Sunday's.
"At the end of the day, Jack's not playing. You can call it whatever you want. We have to execute the plays. It's not on the coach," Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew said. "It's sad that he has to take the heat, but he shouldn't. He's not out there strapping it up, going out to play. All he can do is sit and watch. He's not wearing a jersey."
Jack Del Rio isn't dropping passes, fumbling snaps, shanking punts or blowing coverages. He is the guy who's in charge of making sure none of those miscues occur and his teams have looked completely unprepared in two end-of-game situations this season.
"Just put it on my shoulders, I'm not doing enough," Del Rio stated.
If appears to be inevitable that Jack Del Rio is going to lose his job- probably by November 1st. With all of his assistant coaches and front office members contracts expiring at season's end and Del Rio under contract through 2012, it doesn't appear as if the team will win enough games and show enough improvement to warrant new deals for everyone. With three difficult games coming up with Pittsburgh on the road, Baltimore at home and then a trip to the current AFC South leading Houston Texans, it doesn't appear as if the 1-4 Jaguars will be any better than 1-7 or 2-6 at best when they enter their Week Nine bye.
It's impossible to justify new contracts to anyone in the front office or coaching staff and at this point it will be much easier for the Jaguars organization to continue to rebuild with a new general manager. The new GM will have a developing franchise quarterback, a nice high draft pick and he can pick his new head coach.
As for Del Rio, there's no doubt he worked hard and tried his best and was rewarded handsomely with a pair of contract extensions. Although his players believe in him, December collapses and poor clock mis-management have become the norm in Jacksonville and a franchise that struggles to find an identity has become even more anonymous.
Charlie Bernstein is the NFL Insider for ESPN 1080 and 1040 in Orlando/Tampa and the host of "The Sports Crunch" on the Aquarius 7 Broadcasting Network (national), and Editor-in-Chief of Sports Media Interactive, covering multiple teams in the National Football League, NCAA, and National Basketball Association. Charlie covers the Jacksonville Jaguars for FoxSports and has been featured on the NFL Network and Sirius NFL Radio. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. You can follow Charlie on Twitter @nflcharlie
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