Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver finally concluded early Tuesday morning what everyone around him knew was obvious -- he could not justify keeping coach Jack Del Rio until the end of the season. Not with three home games remaining, including next week's Monday Night Football matchup with the San Diego Chargers, and most of all, not with the dark cloud of having an undeclared lame-duck coach running his team for another five weeks.
With the Jaguars having national television games coming up in two of their next three games, owner Wayne Weaver had little choice but to fire coach Jack Del Rio Tuesday. Weaver changed the subject. Now instead of the announcers focusing on Del Rio's status, they will be focusing on the future of the franchise and how Mel Tucker will do as an interim coach. With the Jaguars having no shot at a division title or a winning season and with the fan base turned off by all the losing, it was time to start the process of reenergizing the franchise.
The fortune Shahid R. Khan will tap to buy the Jacksonville Jaguars stems from a multibillion-dollar automobile parts manufacturing business in Illinois he built after immigrating from Pakistan at the age of 16. Khan, 61, is known for giving large gifts to the University of Illinois and his passion for football, both college and pro. He bid unsuccessfully last year for the St. Louis Rams.
Hours after he was fired as head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Jack Del Rio said he understands why he’s out of a job, but that he believes he can take pride in his team. Del Rio told Channel 4 in Jacksonville that Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver warned him that this was a win-or-else season for him. Del Rio added, however, that he thought his players were continuing to play hard even at 3-8.
You’ve no doubt seen that the Jacksonville Jaguars have undergone a massive shakeup today, whether via Twitter, TV, the internet, or Justin Wendel’s quick writeup on this site an hour ago. First, Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver announced that Jack Del Rio would no longer be coaching the Jaguars. Mel Tucker was named as the interim head coach and will finish out the season. Second, Weaver announced that he had agreed to sell the team to Shahid Khan, a businessman who had previously tried to purchase the St. Louis Rams. Finally, it was announced that general manager Gene Smith had been signed to a three-year contract extension taking him through the 2014 season. That’s a LOT of change for one day.
Early Tuesday, no way did Paul Posluszny expect a day like this. Maurice Jones-Drew didn’t see it coming, either. Posluszny, the Jaguars’ starting middle linebacker, and Jones-Drew – their two-time Pro Bowl running back – were among several players who spoke to the media late Tuesday morning shortly after major news broke around the organization on several fronts.
One regime changed Tuesday, while another continued. Jack Del Rio, the Jaguars’ head coach since 2003, was relieved of those duties by Jaguars Owner Wayne Weaver early Tuesday afternoon, the same day Weaver announced he had signed General Manager Gene Smith to a three-year contract extension.
Notes from Wayne Weaver’s news conference at which he announced he fired Jack Del Rio as head coach, installed defensive coordinator Mel Tucker as the interim coach, given general manager Gene Smith a new three-year contract, and is selling the team to Shahid Khan.