Let me start out by saying that this is nothing personally against some posters here that have recently called for JDR to be fired. I am also completely ok when BigBlueShoe and those crazies over on the jaguars.com discussion boards claim JDR is the worst coach in the league.
The Jaguars right now have a lot of problems, and obviously this season was very disappointing. I'll tell you what's not a problem for the Jags - their head coach. Common complaints are that he's lost the team, the players have quit, he takes no risks, he runs too much (when the play just called wasn't a pass), he doesn't run enough (when the play just called was a pass gone awry), his team plays with no emotion, and he runs a fundamentally bad team. Let's go through this and work it out.
"The team has quit; he's lost the players; this team plays with no emotion"
As Chris has documented on a recent post, the players say otherwise, and if you're not going to believe the players, then why bother doing any research at all? Just assume everyone is out to get you and is always lying, start a conspiracy theory website, and never go outside again. MJD: "You just learn so much about the guys you play with, and I think the guys fought hard and a lot of people thought we were going to quit. We just kept fighting hard. Sometimes, the ball doesn’t bounce your way. We just have to get better and remember this and look back at it and see what we did here and know we have to fix it."
Even Mike Peterson, who knows he's not coming back to Jacksonville and can say anything he wants about his coaches with no repercussions: "The good thing about it, though, the guys in this locker room – I know you all wrote us off early with everything that had happened – but these guys never quit. You can say whatever you want to say about us, but you never saw anybody in this locker room quit. We fought until the end."
"He has no guts, he doesn't take risks, he's too conservative"
Some quick stats on going for it on 4th down for the 2007 and 2008 seasons combined:
Jaguars: 28.5 attempts/season; League average of the other 31 teams: 15.6 attempts/season
Jack is crazy. Crazy like fox. He will do whatever he wants whenever he wants, and he'll make you like it.
Look, I would love if every play was a successful deep pass, but that's just not going to happen until we have a legitimate deep threat and an uninjured offensive line that can block long enough for a deep route to develop. That's not JDR's fault. In fact, it would be terrible coaching on his part if he demanded plays that we just don't have the players for right now.
"The Jaguars suck, and it's Jack Del Rio's fault"
This is the most infuriating comment to me, because it's so general that it's actually hard to respond to.
Look, the Jaguars were not good this year. They could not rush the passer, cover the pass, block for the QB, or catch the ball. But really, they couldn't do that last year either, and everyone seemed just fine with the coaching then. The Jags were 12th in total defense last year and 17th this year. They dropped from 7th to 20th in total offense, but a patchwork line that couldn't create running room or keep David upright was a main reason for that.
Simply, it's players not plays. it always has been, and it always will be. It's always very easy to blame the coach or the quarterback, but that's usually just a way of avoiding actually analyzing what went wrong and what needs to be done to get better.
Let's all wish Gene Smith good luck and wise judgement in rebuilding for the future, and let's all be glad we have Jack Del Rio instead of Herm Edwards or Wade Phillips or anyone from the Bill Belichick coaching tree.