Better late than never, coach Jack Del Rio is finally cracking down on his players. After nine incidents, including eight arrests since January of 2006, Del Rio announced a get-tough policy Monday.
After meeting with owner Wayne Weaver, Del Rio announced that linebacker Justin Durant and offensive lineman Richard Collier will be suspended for Sunday's game against Tennessee and will be fined.
Both were arrested in separate incidents after staying out late Friday night and both didn't make the trip to New Orleans last weekend. Their two-game suspensions started with that game.
Del Rio also announced that Khalif Barnes, who sat out the first half Sunday after being late to work Saturday morning, will be fined.
Del Rio said that he and Weaver hope this action sends a message to the players.
"We have talked through this thing and want to make sure we send the message where the guys understand this type of behavior is not going to be tolerated in Jacksonville. We need to get this thing tightened up," Del Rio said.
Del Rio also said that players "are going to put game checks and game time at risk if you don't do the right things."
When he was asked why he's put up with so many incidents involving Barnes, he said, "I evaluate all the time. If we determine a guy can't be trusted and isn't dependable, at some point, we're going to do the best to replace him."
Weaver issued a statement in which he said he was "disgusted with the irresponsible behavior that some of our players have demonstrated."
Both Durant and Collier issued statements of apology and Barnes declined to comment.
Linebacker Mike Peterson said the players got the message, but added, "We should have gotten it earlier, though."
Del Rio was asked about the perception that he had lost control of the team because it took nine incidents, including eight arrests, for him to take this action. On the CBS telecast Sunday, announcer Randy Cross said the Jaguars have few rules.
Del Rio said, "If somebody wants to have that opinion, what you're speaking of (Del Rio waiting too long to take action), they're entitled to that. Anybody who has been watching us closely would know I have a different opinion."
Del Rio added, "We have rules and we have discipline. Let me clarify that for you. This (is) a misunderstanding out there. We have tons of rules. We have a booklet of rules just like every other team. We have a manual on rules."
The Jaguars coach then added that he has three simple rules that summarize all the rules.
"I have three simple rules that will keep you out of trouble: be on time, be prepared and be a professional. If you do those things, you're not going to have these issues. A professional wouldn't think about making the choice to be out late as opposed to being in bed," he said.
Del Rio said he had been stressing to the players lately the importance of preparing properly and even had veteran back Fred Taylor address the team on the subject.
"He went through the things he does to provide a positive example," he said.
Del Rio said he was personally affected by the players' behavior.
"It cut me very deep because I know that even if these things weren't exposed, there's no way in the world these guys could have played well for us on Sunday. How can you play well without any sleep?" he said.
Del Rio said he didn't want to alibi for the loss in New Orleans, but he said the incidents were one more factor the team had to contend with over the weekend.
"They all add up. Playing on the road, playing without your starting quarterback, there are a lot of factors that are tough to overcome. That's (the incidents) just another factor you have to be able to overcome," he said.
When Del Rio was asked if the Jaguars should do a better job of researching the background of players before the draft so they don't take problem players, he said the team does a thorough job of getting information on players.
"That's an area we're focused on and we're going to continue to focus on," he said.