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Jack Del Rio: End of Season Press Conference Transcript

Here's the full transcript of Jack Del Rio's end of season press conference.  It's long, but has some good stuff in it.  Worth reading in its entirety.

Jack Del Rio:

"We're proud, but not satisfied. I think we're proud of the fact that for two of the last three years we've been in the postseason, proud of the fact that we won 12 games, proud of the fact that we won a playoff game on the road at Pittsburgh; but not satisfied because we intend on bringing home a world championship, and until we do that we're not going to be satisfied.  Going back to that theme and that comment, I'm very proud about becoming a real team. I feel like this year, more so than any year in the five years we've been here now, we truly became a team - more consistent in our approach, leaders stepped forward.  We had the captain patches for Fred Taylor, for David Garrard, for Paul Spicer - each of these young men really embodied what we're looking for in terms of being unselfish and being good football players, but being more than just good football players; being the right kind of guys. I think that showed on the field on Sundays for us. I think that showed in terms of our preparation, being more consistent and in terms of the energy we brought week in and week out, it being more consistent and I am proud about that. The other thing is I know I have a defensive background, but I'm the head coach of this team and I'm involved heavily and committed heavily in all three phases, and I want all three to be outstanding and this year you saw our offense really emerge.  No question that Dirk Koetter and Mike Shula and Todd Monken were excellent additions to our staff. I thought Dirk did an incredible job of utilizing the people that were here, the players that were here, the coaches that were here and really meshing that with what he had in terms of design and thoughts, and put together a heck of an offense. I think with that David Garrard obviously became our guy and took the reins and ran with it and took that ball and took off with it and led this football team, and showed you that he can be our quarterback for many years to come and give us a chance to get into the postseason and win in the postseason. And that's what we're all about."
"Obviously along the way we broke several team records including for points scored, and I talked since I got here about wanting an explosive offense.  You saw signs of that this year and we believe that we're just getting started.  There is a good solid foundation and with the continuity we expect to have more.  We'll add to the talent base as we do every year, going through the personnel evaluations over the next several weeks and months and going to free agency and the draft with a plan to put together, to get as many good players as we can to add them to this roster and keep going forward."
"Lastly, I just want to say again going back to the whole thing about what I'm proud of, I've preached from day one here that we want to be a smart and tough football team. And I think anybody that's watched our football team understands that we bring a tough, physicality in our play. But I'm also encouraged by the fact that I'm beginning to see what I'm really looking for, and that is a smart and tough football team.  We did a nice job with not being penalized a bunch this year; I believe the fewest penalties in the history of this team, this franchise, and that's the kind of thing we want to build on. We want to play smart, tough football and have explosive offense and be stingy on defense, be opportunistic on special teams, and bring us a world championship here in Jacksonville.  That's what we're after.  We'll continue that quest.  We're going to get a few days downtime and then we'll be back at work going to the Senior Bowl, evaluating the college talent and putting together a free agency plan and off into our offseason work.  There's offseason, there is regular season, there's postseason - you get into that offseason, you're very quickly back at work.  So, we will catch a little bit of a break now that our season is done before we turn our attention to '08."

(TVs and radio)
(you said a couple times during the year that you really love coaching this team more than any team. Can you recreate that in the future or can you put your finger on why this team became that kind of team that you really like?)

"Each year you have to recreate, and you can assume nothing.  I think you're right, I spoke about my love for this group of guys, the way they were unselfish. We had players here - Sammy Knight, Aaron Glenn - guys who have played a long time in this league, Fred Taylor himself, guys who have played in the NFL for a long time and they all spoke about what a special bond we had and how guys were unselfish. And we will seek to duplicate that, absolutely. We will seek to build on that.  It wasn't that we arrived and that was a great one-time experience. We want that to be what we're known for. We want to be a true team, a group of men that will give to a common goal, a common purpose and understand there is a lot of sacrifice required and willingly sacrifice for the good of the team, and that's what we're looking to build here."

(would you agree you've created an environment and a team where free agents will look at Jacksonville and say "I'd like to go play there?")

"Well, we think so, yeah.  First of all, Jacksonville is a great city. Good people here, a great place to live, a nice warm city and there are a lot of draws here. Then you add on top of that a good staff, a good group of guys, an unselfish environment, I think guys get excited about winning football.  We've been a winning football team over the last four years. We're right up there with the top five or six teams in the league. So yeah, I think winning and doing those things and having that type of culture, I think that definitely helps you bring in people."

(with your team having success, other teams may look to your coaching staff to hire for key positions. How is that different in replacing them and what philosophy will you use going forward to make those replacements when they come up?)

"One of the things I said to the staff and players yesterday is that change is a part of the NFL. You're constantly being evaluated. You're constantly being pushed and challenged.  When you have success then people want to come in, whether they're in free agency trying to get your players or trying to get your coaches, that's just part of the game. So we understand that and we've got plans to address those things and you deal with them as they come up.  I think you understand there are possibilities that are out there, and you do your best to prepare for those possibilities. Obviously in terms of the staff that we've assembled here, I'm very proud of the staff we've assembled.  They did a nice job working and maximizing, I thought, what we had available to us this year and we'll look to continue to do that.   So we'd like to have the continuity where we can and where we can't we'll make the adjustments and move forward."

(what are the areas that need improvement?)

"A lot of areas, really.  I think first of all we've established a standard here defensively. This is the first time in our five years that we didn't finish in the top 10 defensively, finishing at number 12. We did finish in the top 10 points-wise, but it wasn't the type of dominant defensive play that I like to have, that I'd like to continue to have, that we've basically established a standard that you come to expect, which I love. And we'll address that.  We'll look at that, look at why. Obviously, we've had our share of injuries on the defensive side, we've had guys plug in so I think with that you can turn it into a little bit of a positive that we're getting experience with some guys that were really brought here to be in supportive roles that end up playing a lot, that get great experience and so you should be better for that going forward.  But we'll take a good look at that in the offseason. We want to get back to being dominant on defense. We want to build on the explosiveness that we've developed offensively, and I think the other guy that we added this year, Joe DeCamillis on special teams, you can see that Joe's got a lot of passion, he's willing to take some risks which really fits more to my personality. I think Joe is a great fit for us here in Jacksonville and so we just want to build on the positives and recognize...We recognize there are some things we've got to do better and the most obvious one is defensively. We've established such a high standard here. Believe me, we're not content with being 12th in defense."

(how does the tackling get better?)

"The biggest thing I like to do in terms of personnel and how you go about that, first of all I think you always evaluate your scheme and how you're doing and what you're doing, and you always want to maximize what you can do with the personnel you have. But I always believe in creating a competitive environment and so we're going to make every situation, every position as competitive as possible and know that in that competition that the cream rises to the top.  When you create that type of environment where guys are fighting for roles, fighting for jobs, fighting for playing time then the cream will rise to the top and we will be better going forward."

(in the Patriots game, your defensive scheme seemed fine but the problem was in the tackling. How frustrating is that and can you make those players better tacklers?)

"I think you can improve. I think that's part of what your offseason work is about.  I think that's part of what as coaches that we pride ourselves on, is being able to get guys to do things as well as they're capable of doing them.  Specifically to Saturday night, we knew one of our must-do's going into that ballgame was tackle the short passing game. We knew with the way their offense was designed that there are a lot of short, sometimes behind the line of scrimmage bubble screens, dump-down passes that you had to come up and tackle well if you were going to stop them, and we understood that going in.  And we were OK in stretches and poor in others, and I think some of the poor ones got magnified as things usually do in the postseason."

(from a fan's vantage point, it looks like a lack of toughness.  As a former defensive player, how do you see it?)

"I wouldn't go there with it. I'd say I have to admit I might have missed a tackle when I was playing."

(but it wasn't because you didn't want to put your head in there.)

 "No, and I don't think we're dealing with that type of thing. We'll be better going forward. We're going to make it where we have to be and we'll create competition, we'll challenge guys and we'll expect to be better going forward. Certainly that was an area that wasn't what we needed it to be Saturday night."

(on the wide receivers and dropped balls)

"The great thing is again, I think you pointed it out, we were able to be sixth in the league in scoring and set a franchise record with the guys we have. So yes, we want to build on that. We want to be better.  We're not playing next weekend so we know we didn't have enough and do enough, but we're going to build on what we did well. Absolutely, we're going to look to continue to challenge across our roster. We're going to look to be better, be stronger, be more talented and assemble those guys and collect the best 53 (players) that we can going out of camp next year for the '08 season.  But right now I think you look at it and you say, David Garrard emerged as a legitimate franchise quarterback.  He developed throughout the year.  He got the opportunity and really put it together and we believe there is more there for him. We believe that he has an opportunity to take his game to another level.  I'm really pleased with the way he developed, the way he worked with Coach Shula and Coach Koetter and maximized his abilities this year. We think we can build on that going forward.  So, to have that quarterback, to have that guy that you know that you can go win with, that's a big part of the puzzle and a good place to start. Our offensive line play has been solid, strong up front, we've been able to run the ball. We're going to continue to do those types of things. You have to be excited when you see guys like Marcedes Lewis.  You look at what was presented there with Kyle (Brady) leaving. Was he going to be able to hold up as a blocker? Yeah, we ran the ball very well.  He did a great job blocking and we got that tight end threat down the seam that we've been looking for.  He had a big catch early in that ballgame, that big 34-yard catch Saturday night on fourth down.  So, we're going to build on those positives.  Was it perfect?  No. We're proud of the effort; yes, we are. We're not satisfied at all."

(will you be very active in the offseason with free agency?)

"We've got plenty of cap room and we're loaded with draft picks, so we're going to be looking. I think what you can't do is you can't generate and manufacture talent that is not there. I think what we'll do, what we've done a great job of, we'll continue to do a great job of is assess the market and determine where we think there is a fit and if there is, go out and get a guy, go out and get several guys.  But you can't manufacture it. You can't just go pay a guy and declare that he's going to be a great player if he's not a great player. I think you have to go out and acquire people that can help your football team and that's in the free agency part, and then the draft part obviously comes a little bit later.  But we will do all that we can to take this from a good solid football team to a team that we think can contend for a championship.  Obviously the next order of business is we need to be having a home playoff game, and the only way you're going to get that done is to win your division. We've got to find a way to win our division and get a home playoff game. The odds of being successful when you're at home go up, and having that week's rest obviously would be huge, and so those are things that we've got to turn our attention to and really fight for."

(how many tough decisions will you have to make on players you probably don't want to let go but it may be smart in the long run?)

"Again, we're going to have to look at that.  That's something you go through, you take your time.  You've got time, you go through it.  You do all your work, you meet with the doctors, determine where they are, where you think they're going to be and all that, and the you make a decision going forward for your football team of how you want to proceed.  And obviously there are a lot of guys that are coming back from injury, they're in that situation where we'll be talking about it, but to sit here now and say that we have those answers, it's way too early in the process.  We're going to spend the next several weeks looking over our roster, looking around the league trying to put together a plan in terms of going forward for 2008. We really haven't even gotten start yet.  We're just really wrapping up the 2007 season."

(in evaluating free agency, does how a player blends in personality-wise become a more important part of the evaluation?)

"I think it's always important. We've been working at the cohesiveness, at the mentality of this football team for five years, so we will continue to do that.  It doesn't become more important than it was because it's been important the entire time. So we'll continue to work at that, address that and make sure that we're doing that."

(do you have a better idea of how those guys will fit in now?)

"We'll continue to work the process in terms of looking at the player and trying to determine coachability, mental capacity, obviously you're looking for physical capabilities. But the character of the man, how he's going to fit into our locker room, whether he's going to be a good teammate, whether he's unselfish, all those things are important to us and we will continue to look at those things."

(with David Garrard's emergence, how confident are you the team will have him locked up to an extension in his contract before the start of next season?)

"There are a lot of different ways to go about it.  Dallas took an approach with (Tony) Romo where it actually went into the season.   So, we'll work on our timeframe.  Again, we'll meet with Wayne (Weaver), Paul (Vance) and Shack (Harris) and myself and the coaches and we'll work on our wish list and then we'll turn over the negotiation part to Paul and let him work on it like he always does. And hopefully we'll be able to get something resolved and it won't be an issue going into the year. But again, it's happened before so you hope for the best that there is something out there that makes sense for both sides and you get it done."

(Garrard mentioned in his postgame news conference he'd like to get his contract renegotiated as soon as possible.  Does that make it a priority then?)

"No, that doesn't make it.  Everybody has a wish list.  David is our quarterback and we're excited about the year he had, think that he can get even better.  That's kind of the business side. That'll work itself out. We'll work on that.  There is a process that needs to take place, we'll go through that and the appropriate people will handle that."

(would your input be to get this done as soon as possible?)

"Oh yeah. He's a good player. He's good for our football team. He's a right kind of guy and I like the way he approaches things. I liked the way he approached things before he became our guy. I like the fact that once he became our guy, he continued to approach things the right way. And I think that the players in that locker room respect that."

(will there be a contract extension for you?)

"Obviously there will come a time when that becomes important for me. Right now, quite honestly, I've spent my entire last several months just immersed in trying to maximize this team's ability to win week in and week out, game planning, doing all the things I need to do to be at my best for the football team. At some point here we'll turn our attention here, or I will, onto that and we'll have the appropriate discussions and again, go through that process and hopefully we find a situation that's good for everybody involved."

(is that what you would like, to sing an extended contract?)

 "Of course. We've worked hard for the last five years to build this thing here in Jacksonville. It's a great city. I love living here. I love working here.  My family loves being here.  I'm blessed to have a great owner, Wayne Weaver is a great owner to work for.  We've assembled a strong staff. We've got a great culture here in our locker room.  There are a lot of things that I personally am invested in here and absolutely, we look forward to continuing this quest for a championship. That's really what we're about.  We want to win a championship, and want to contend for several and win several championships, but you've gotto get that first one before you worry about several. But the bottom line is there is a lot that is established here that I have worked hard personally and that we have worked hard collectively to build here and absolutely, I want to be a part of this, but we'll go through the process and hopefully that'll all take care of itself."

(do you have an option in your contract, is that not true?)

"Not true."

(I said the other night this is the beginning, and not the end. Do you feel that way?)

"I do feel that way.  I think probably the thing that gives it that kind of feel is that our quarterback is new. I know he's been in the league for a few years, he's kind of had some seasoning before he had his coming out party, but he played awfully well the other night.  You come out there and you're kind of disappointed you didn't win, obviously you'd love to be advancing, (but) our quarterback played pretty well; in fact he played very well.  We were going toe-to-toe with an undefeated football team with an all-universe quarterback and our guy was right there. We didn't blink.  We were going toe-to-toe with him.  So that has to give you hope, that has to give you optimism going forward."

(what kind of impact has Mike Tice had on your offense the last few years?)

 "I used to tease Mike a few years back.  I told him we could have won a Super Bowl in Minnesota if he had brought me up there because that's how much respect I have for what he can do offensively, and the confidence I have about what I can bring defensively.  So, we've got him here now and that's what our quest is, to bring a championship here. I think Mike is one of the top guys out there offensively. He does a heck of a job, really understands the running game, really understands protections, he's got a great presence about him and he's done a great job for us here in Jacksonville."

(what have Mike Shula and Todd Monken brought to the offense?)

"I think you saw the detail at those individual positions that we needed to have in order to go to another level with the same guys. The detail in terms of Mike Shula working with David, in terms of understanding exactly where the progression led him and why, what his answers were and why. And I think Todd Monken did that for our receivers.  Reggie Williams has a career year and now is our touchdown record-holder for the number of touchdowns in a season, and what the difference was was the detail at the end of the routes for him. Being patient and finishing the route, don't come out of your break early when the quarterback is not ready for you because then the quarterback is ready for you and you're not open because you got out of your break too early. Things like that, where the will was there but the detail of the assignment was lacking. And I think the detail is the biggest thing that those positional coaches brought to their positions that helped us go to another level."

(on telling your players to not be afraid to stick their neck out, are they more inclined to listen when they see you doing that?)

 "I think the players understand if you're genuine, and if you're genuine and you have confidence in them they feel that. And that's really what that was a reflection of, was my confidence in what I saw. And I think when you are proven to have seen things correctly, yes, I think they gain confidence in your confidence. And so yes, I do believe in that. I do believe that there is some of that once you've established yourself to be somebody that does make the right call and you've done it repeatedly, then they gain more confidence in your ability to do that.  Whether it be going for it, whether it be personnel decisions, whatever it be, if you're leading the right way and they build confidence in that and trust that then they end up totally buying in to what you're selling."

(do you think what your team accomplished this year will have a carryover affect into next season with the fans?)

"I would anticipate it would. I don't know how it wouldn't. When you have a chance to be special, and we feel like we do, and you really answered a lot of the questions that you had.  To be right now a football team that just broke its scoring record, that means you can score. And we've shown we know how to play good defense here. We're going to get back to playing better defense here, I promise you going forward.  So, we're on top of what we've built offensively, to get back to what we're doing defensively, to be a part of something special, an unselfish team, maybe that's the fan in me or maybe I'm optimistic but yeah, why wouldn't you be excited about it? I would think that anybody who likes good football, that likes an unselfish team-first approach ought to enjoy watching the Jaguars play."

(do you think the Chargers have a chance to beat the Patriots in the AFC Championship game?)

"I haven't seen the injury report, they have a few guys banged up, but I think they do have a chance, yeah.  I think that San Diego, when I stood up here and talked about their roster, the number of Pro Bowlers, the amount of talent they have, that's an extremely talented football team and I don't think they've lost since we beat them.  So, they're playing at a high level. Obviously the team that they're going to go up against in New England is an exceptional football team so it'll be a huge challenge.  But I think everybody in this league has an opportunity to win if you play real well and the other team doesn't, so there is a possibility."

(do you expect any news this week about coaching staff or moves?)

"You get on with your business.  We're going through our meetings now in terms of personnel and all of that, looking at all those things.  Like I was asked earlier, we don't anticipate anything being imminent, that we're going to lose people, but you know that's always a fluid situation. We're getting into the personnel right now and we'll have our meetings and go through that.  I wouldn't want you to be sitting on the edge of your seats waiting for anything. We'll just see how it plays out."

(do you anticipate making any staff changes in the next few weeks?)

 "I'm not anticipating.   We'll see how that works out."

(how do you evaluate yourself?)

"I'm going through this other part of it before I sit down and really reflect on the year for me.  I know over the course of the year I felt very proud of the way we, as a staff, approached our work and the way we got, I thought, week in and week out the most our team had to give. And I'm proud of that.  There are a lot of different things that I reflect on now that certainly I'm proud of, but I think each year I've gone back, taken a look or reflected on how the year went for me and the things that I was confronted with and had to deal with and I've learned and continued to look to be better the next time out.  I'll approach it the same way."


(what needs to be done to improve the defense to get it back to where it once was?)

"We've established a pretty good standard of expectation here for defensive play and we just want to make sure that we're going back and revisiting all the things that we believe in that must be accomplished to play well.  I think as far as schematically, you always go back and make sure you're doing things that are sound schematically so you give your guys an opportunity to be at their best, and then you want to make sure that you make the situation as competitive as possible with personnel so that guys are fighting for roles and playing time and things like that. So, we'll look at it, work hard at it in all areas - schematically what we're doing, how we're doing it and fundamentally, what we're teaching, how we're going about it, and then personnel-wise making sure that we're creating a very competitive situation for players. I believe in that environment, when you create that type of competition that you get the best the players have to give."

(are you concerned about Marcus Stroud being able to get physically back to being the player he once was?)

"That'll be something that we'll look at. The doctors will have to look at, trainers and as coaches when we're given the green light to work with him then we'll do that accordingly. But anybody that's been injured that comes back, and we've got several guys in that category, you always are concerned about them getting back, but that's something that's part of the process."

(do you think injuries started taking its toll on the defense?)

"Our expectations and our understanding of our guys and what we would or wouldn't be capable of, those are things that we have a good feel for.  We knew it wasn't going to be an easy year.  We knew we had some challenges.  We'll seek to be maybe a little more aggressive in terms of making sure that we have capable and able bodies to prepare this next season with."

(will you pursue a long term contract with David Garrard?)

"We'll go through the process in terms of all that and hopefully the two sides will get together and get something worked out.  I think he's established himself as our franchise quarterback. Obviously there is a process and hopefully...That's the same thing with every player. Every player would be the same way.  When you want to get a guy extended, you hope that both sides are able to come to an agreement that makes sense for both sides.  He established himself as our quarterback and did a nice job with his opportunity."

(what about you? Don't you have to work out your own situation before the others?)

"No, we wait. The process continues and I think as far as I'm concerned, I've spent the last six months really immersed in this team and maximizing week-to-week, day-to-day everything that I could for the good of this football team and this organization, and there'll be a time at some point here to address my situation.  I love it here in Jacksonville. I really feel like we've assembled a very strong staff.  I feel like we've created a great culture in our locker room with unselfish players that are committed to winning, and the individual and the personal things, those will get taken care of in due time."

(do you anticipate being here?)


(why did you change agents?)

"It's personal."

(how would you characterize the future of this team?)

 "Promising.  We've got a good, solid core group of players.  We've got a lot of cap room.  We had a quarterback emerge.  To me, we've shown this year that we're playing with an unselfish attitude, a consistent approach. There are just so many positives right now.  Yeah, it's not perfect.  There are things that we need to build on and things that we need to improve on as we go into this offseason, but we're excited with where we are and what the future may hold."

(can Greg Jones be a free agent?)


(what did you mean that you're going to be more aggressive in having capable and able players?)

"One of the ways you can acquire players, I think, is free agency and the draft."

(so you're going to be more aggressive in free agency?)

"We're going to create a competitive environment here."

(do you expect the free agent crop to be good, or will teams try to sign their own guys?)

"Yeah, I think more and more teams are working hard to get their guys extended or re-signed, but you always have a pool of players to choose from. But we'll do our work, do our due diligence and go through the process and know who is available.  I think the biggest thing, and I know I've it in the past, but you can't manufacture a player.  Obviously the money has gone pretty high. You can't just pay a guy a huge contract and make him a star. I think you've got to just evaluate properly and select properly and find guys that fit what you're doing, what you're looking for. I know we'll work it like we always do."

(you aren't known for paying out big money in free agency. Do you expect that philosophy to continue?)

"I think we visit it every year the same in terms of our approach.  Regardless, whoever we give money to it seems like it comes under a lot of scrutiny right away. Last year it was (Tony) Pashos and (Dennis) Northcutt. The year before it was Brian Williams, the year before that Reggie Hayward, and the big questions, `What are you looking at?', `Why would you pay him that money?' and then a few years later saying, `They're pretty good players. They knew what they were doing.'  We're just going to keep working at it. We're going to keep evaluating and working the process. You know the market is rising in terms of what players are being compensated.  So, we'll continue to work at it like we have and put together a plan and go through...The first place is we'll start with our own roster.  We'll have a real thorough evaluation of our own roster, the personnel we have, look at that that is potentially going to be available in free agency, and we'll put together a plan."

(what is your evaluation of your division?)

"A strong division, top to bottom, and in the top was the world champion last year. The bottom made it to .500 this year.  It's strong, top to bottom. I think all the teams will be working hard this offseason to be improved for next year.  It's going to be a battle."

(what are your expectations for John Broussard and Mike Walker?)

 "My expectations are for them to work this offseason and come back the next offseason and compete, training camp, OTAs and all that, come back and compete, fight for a spot, fight for a role."

(did Walker have another procedure on his knee?)

"Yeah, he had a little clean-out done since he went on IR."

(Cincinnati is sending signals they want to trade Chad Johnson and Arizona is sending signals they want to trade Larry Fitzgerald.  Do either of those guys interest you?)

"You know I can't comment about people on other rosters."

(did Mike Tice interview with the Miami Dolphins?)


(did they contact you for permission to interview him?)

"Not yet."

(what are your thoughts on Reggie Nelson and the year that he had, and is there a chance there could be cornerback in his future?)

"He's got athletic ability to do it, I think.  I think he had a really solid rookie year and I think he's going to be a great football player here for a long time.  He's got a dynamic personality.  I didn't notice him, I'd be curious to hear what he says when I visit with him, but I didn't really notice him hitting the rookie wall.  He's a guy that has great energy.  He really played with great energy, brought great energy every day. He was attentive in meeting. He's got a real thirst for knowledge. You could classify him as a gym rat kind of guy, just loves the game, loves to compete. So I really like his make-up. I really like the way he approaches the game.  So long as he continues to approach it that way, there is no reason why he won't be a special player in this league."

(he also said he didn't hit the rookie wall.)

"I didn't see it.  I think he really took heed with some of the advice he was getting in terms of they way you avoid that rookie wall is to go to bed, get off your feet, eat right.  Sometimes it takes you a while to learn as a young man that you're not invincible, and so it sounds like he's listened to some of the veterans who are telling him hey, go to bed at night, get your rest and eat right."

(did he have a lot of missed tackles?)

"I think on the year he tackled pretty well.  Deon Grant was a good player for us; he missed a few, too.  There are Pro Bowl guys around the league that are going to miss a few now and then.  Nobody is perfect."

(what about your backup quarterback?)

"Quinn (Gray) was our back-up this year."

(will he be a free agent?)

"Right.  So going forward we'll see how that works out."

(on Justin Durant)

 "He was one of those guys that was thrust into duty maybe earlier than was originally planned, and I thought he did a great job with the opportunities that he had.  He certainly gained some experience.  He's got some excellent quickness.  He's a pretty quick learner and I think he's a guy that's going to be a good football player for us for a while."

(talk about what the offensive line did this year, and if there is an interest in bringing Maurice Williams back.)

"Two separate things.  I think for Maurice, for all of the guys who are up, there are a few guys who are up and I think with all of them it comes down to we do our evaluation, we go through our process and then the two sides talk and if a deal could be struck that's good for both sides, we get a deal done.  If it doesn't then they go to the market and test the market. So that's going to be the same for everybody.  Certainly I'm appreciative of all of their efforts. As far as the offensive line goes, I thought Mo did a great job of filling in. He ended up playing a position he really hadn't played and really did an admirable job down the stretch, giving us a chance.  So he ended up being a very valuable guy for us.  Much like David, he was in a situation where it wasn't necessarily something a guy could be excited about, having somebody else be made the starter at your position, but he handled it well, handled it with class and was very positive in terms of continuing to work at his trade and being a good pro and doing all those things. And when the team needed him, he was there and so I know there was a lot of appreciation for that."

(is Mike Smith the only coach on your staff who has interviewed with another team for a head coaching position?)

"Thus far that has interviewed?  Yes."

(do you anticipate bringing you entire staff back this year?)

"I feel good about the staff that we've assembled. There is always the threat once you've assembled the staff, of people wanting to come in and raid  your staff, and obviously we'll be ready to adjust to that if we need to."

(so you're not going to make any changes?)

"No, I don't anticipate making any changes."

(that's a pretty good feeling to have, isn't it?)


(there's a thought that the goal in the NFL is to be competitive and go to the playoffs, not win championships. With having to beat Tom Brady and Peyton Manning to get to a Super Bowl - how do you deal with that?)

"First of all, you're a competitor. You don't just accept that you're not going to do something. How did Pittsburgh go win three on the road when it had never been done?  Tom Brady was in that playoff field. You know, you go play and I think you said one thing that made a lot of sense, we all want to get into the tournament because you can't win a championship if you don't make it in.  I think the first thing that we want to do every year is make into the playoff tournament, and from there you have a chance. And your chances increase if you go in with a home game, and then your chances increase even more if you go in with a bye (week) in the first round and a home game. So I think you keep trying to maximizing your chances. The first thing is to get in. Two of the last three years we've been able to get in, so that's a reason for optimism, absolutely. Is Tom playing fantastic football?  Absolutely, but that doesn't mean we're not going to compete.  Anybody who watched that game the other night would have to draw a lot of confidence as a Jaguars fan. We're toe-to-toe with the champs.  David Garrard, there was one incompletion in the first half. We had one incompletion.  They were perfect and we had one incompletion.  I think David was 11 for 12 and Tom was 12 for 12.  No, that gives you optimism, that gives you hope.  I do look at it like you want to get in every year because I think that's where it starts, and we've talked about that.  The first thing is to find your way into the playoffs somehow, someway.  Ideally you'd like to win your division and get a home game, and obviously your odds go up in your favor if you get a bye and a home game. Certainly not a guarantee, as Indy found out, Indy went down yesterday, but it increases your chances."

(is that the immediate goal - win the division?)