As first reported by ESPN's Chris Mortensen, the Jacksonville Jaguars have fired head coach Jack Del Rio after a 3-8 start in 2011 and a playoff drought that goes back to 2007. The team has not had a winning record since that season, going 8-8 as a franchise high in 2010. Had there not been a lockout in the most recent offseason, it's entirely possible that team owner Wayne Weaver would have terminated Del Rio's employment before.
Defensive coordinator Mel Tucker will be the interim head coach. The Jaguars next face the San Diego Chargers on "Monday Night Football."
It's been a frustrating season for the Jaguars since the start, when the team released quarterback David Garrard and decided to go with rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert after a brief flirtation with veteran Luke McCown. Gabbert has struggled while other rookie quarterbacks, such as Andy Dalton and Cam Newton, have excelled, and it seems that the erstwhile Maurice Jones-Drew is the team's only consistent offensive weapon.
Worse still was the recent blamescaping set up by Del Rio after a 14-10 loss to the Cleveland Browns. When asked about the team's anemic offensive attack, Del Rio threw water all over offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter in public. The words may have been warranted, but head coaches are generally better off taking the hits for the people on their staffs.
"Our offensive coordinator calls the plays," Del Rio said. "I can't speak to his thinking. You'll have to get with him … We certainly talked about those things through the course of the drive. We got down and took our crack. You can make a case for doing that. You can guess any number of plays when you don't connect. [It's] a missed opportunity.''
Then, when asked why the team didn't call a specific timeout in Jacksonville's 20-13 loss to the Houston Texans last Sunday, Del Rio said, "I asked Dirk, 'Do you want a timeout there?' and he said, 'No'. That's why."
Del Rio benched Gabbert in the fourth quarter of the Houston loss.
Hired before the 2003 season, the former NFL linebacker for five different teams and position coach for the New Orleans Saints, Baltimore Ravens and Carolina Panthers had a 68-70 record as the Jaguars' head coach, and 1-2 in the playoffs. He will likely be a hot commodity as a defensive coordinator in the offseason as teams rejigger their coaching staffs, and the former USC standout could hit the collegiate ranks as well.
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