David Garrad (Winslow Townson/AP)
Players talk about what the REAL issues with the Jacksonville Jaguars are. Find out more on the topics of money, contracts, attitude and roles... from the players themselves.
Coach Jack Del Rio wants his players to watch the playoffs.
Wide receiver Dennis Northcutt said that at the team's final meeting of the season, Del Rio told his players, "'See what you're missing. Let that bad taste hang in your mouth a little while so that next year when you're in training and when you come into the season, you know how it felt back in January when you weren't here.'''
The Jaguars have made the playoffs only twice in Del Rio's six seasons with the team and won just one playoff game, a victory at Pittsburgh last January. And they're 24-24 the past three seasons.
This year, the team finished at 5-11 after a 27-7 loss to Baltimore Sunday.
A larger question is whether the team has enough talent. The Jaguars went 12-4 in Del Rio's third season with a core of players former coach Tom Coughlin left behind. But now those players are aging or departed and they haven't replaced them with quality players.
They drafted only one Pro Bowl player (Rashean Mathis) in the last six seasons and that led to the departure of James "Shack'' Harris, the vice president of player personnel. He was replaced by Gene Smith, who had been the team's pro and college scouting director.
The Jaguars need a dynamite draft if they're to start to turn this around.
They also have to overcome several other problems, according to several players.
"It went from money to injuries to confrontation to not even focusing on the details, not buying into a lot of things. And losing causes frustration and a lot of guys letting their frustration come over them, players and coaches," running back Maurice Drew said.
"When you lose, it all blows up," Drew said.
"People wanted money last year, David (Garrard) wanted his money and a lot of people wanted money last year. Coach Del Rio wanted money last year, but we were winning so it wasn't a big deal. This is the NFL. It happens to everybody. You just got your first taste of it happening to the Jaguars."
Last year when they made the playoffs, Garrard and Del Rio got lucrative contract extensions and they brought in free agents Drayton Florence and Jerry Porter with big contracts, but not all of the players shared the wealth.
Garrard also said that when the team started to lose, things quickly unraveled.
"It just seemed like when things got hairy early on here, it felt like it was starting to divide (the team). We can't let that happen again," Garrard said.
Garrard said he'll be a bit more vocal as a leader in the future.
"If I see something that's out of place, I will say something about it. Sometimes, it calls for a confrontation. Not fisticuffs, but sometimes you have to approach somebody. If I have to talk to somebody, I definitely will," he said.
Garrard said he didn't know why some players didn't buy into the program.
"You should have the respect for the game to go all out every time, regardless of the situation. Everybody's not like that and so you have to confront guys and say, 'Hey, we need you to pick it up. We need you to do whatever.' But you would think everybody would buy in. Everybody's not built the same."
Mathis said another problem is that players didn't always seem to be content with their roles.
"Everybody can't be chiefs," Mathis said. "Everybody's got to have some Indians. You have to have some followers. Regardless of what your role is, you need to play to the best of your ability. Who says that if you're an Indian, you're not going to be a chief one day. But right now, if you're an Indian, be an Indian and let the chiefs be chiefs. I think that's where we fell short. Some people felt that their role wasn't as big as they needed it to be."
The Jaguars obviously have a lot of problems to solve in the offseason.