Posted on: September 21, 2011 9:48 am

Del Rio makes the only choice

In the first week of camp, I watched Blaine Gabbert throw.

He made some that I hadn't been seen on a Jaguars practice field ever.

So the question is this: Why didn't he just open the season as the starter?

The coaches just weren't sure he was ready. They were concerned that he wasn't comfortable enough in the pocket, not comfortable enough with all the reads.

The team gave him the chance to win the job, but he never did. He didn't take it in camp.

Now it's his.

Coach Jack Del Rio made the decision Wednesday to name Gabbert the starter after Luke McCown's horrible game against the Jets.

Gabbert has a chance to be special.

There are a couple of concerns. Some scouts wonder if he is too apt to feel phantom pressure.

From what I've watched, that's the only knock. But that can be because he's young.

The big arm is there. The ability to read the field seems to be there.

During one practice this summer, former quarterback David Garrard took a snap from center and looked down the field. There was a wide-open receiver, but Garrard never saw him.

Standing behind the play, Gabbert, according to a team source, said, "it's there."

Gabbert, at 6-5, could see over the line. Garrard, at 6-1, always seemed to have problems with that.

Gabbert carries himself like a quarterback. He has that swagger.

Now it's time to show that Jaguars are his team -- for a long time.

The Jaguars have never really had their own draft-and-develop franchise quarterback. Now they do.

If he can show he was worth that top-10 pick.

Why not play him? The Jaguars aren't going to the playoffs anyway.

Category: NFL
Tags: Jaguars
Posted on: June 2, 2009 6:54 pm

Del Rio right to rip Henderson



Jacksonville Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio lit up defensive tackle John Henderson Tuesday after Henderson checked out of an OTA workout for the second consecutive day.

The reason he left?

Sore shoulder.

Here's the real reason: Lack of drive.

Henderson doesn't care enough to be a great player again. In 2006, he was as good as any defensive tackle in the game. The past two years he's been a major disappointment.

Some in the Jaguars' front office think he's been the most-overrated player on the roster the past two years.

I have to agree.

Henderson should be a force like former teammate Albert Haynesworth. But the past two seasons he's been a tall tackle who gets blocked a lot.

Del Rio simply tried to light a fire under him Tuesday by going public with his dissatisfaction with Henderson missing time.

"Back when I played, and even prior to that, I don't think anybody would have had to miss a snap for it," Del Rio said. "I think it's a minor bruise of sorts. I would think Lombardi is probably rolling over right now. It's not something that should keep anybody out of work. But John feels like he can't go, so we'll let him wait until he can."

Del Rio did tell me that he met with Henderson an hour after the comments and the two talked it out.

The Jaguars need Henderson in the worst way. Without him, they would have big troubles stopping the run. That had to be why Del Rio tried to motivate him.

Now we'll have to see if it works.

I wonder.



Category: NFL
Tags: Jaguars
Posted on: March 24, 2009 7:03 pm
Edited on: March 24, 2009 7:04 pm

Quentin Groves can be Jaguars X factor

DANA POINT, Calif. -- Jacksonville Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio is a big believer in the 4-3 style of defense. But the team will use some 3-4 fronts at times this year.

"When I was in Baltimore, they were a 4-3," Del Rio said. "They transferred to a 3-4. It wasn’t like any difficult endeavor. They've been able to morph in and out of it. So there's that possibility, where you can do things that come out of those looks. It's just a matter of one guy. One guy is down or up. It creates some things for the offense. It maybe gives you something to write about or talk about. Fundamentally, it's not a whole lot different. You're going to have four guys in the back end, seven guys in the front. It's just
a matter of one guy being up or down."

That one guy for the Jaguars could be second-year player Quentin Groves. As a rookie, Groves played down end and seemed to have trouble with the bigger tackles. He has his weight up to 260 pounds and the team will use him as a stand-up rusher in some situations.

"He's a guy suited for some of the activity," Del Rio said.

The problem with going to a 3-4 all the time is that defensive end Derrick Harvey, picked in the first round last year, is a traditional 4-3 end. He has to play with his hand on the ground.



Category: NFL
Tags: Jaguars
Posted on: October 6, 2008 3:59 pm
Edited on: October 6, 2008 4:39 pm

Monday Musings

When the season started, we expected the Chargers, Jaguars and Seahawks to all have stout defenses.

After five weeks, none of them do. They are all in the bottom third of the league in yards allowed. The Jaguars are tied for 21st with 344 yards per game with San Francisco. The Seahawks are 26th with 366.5 yards a game and the Chargers are 27th at 379 yards per game.

All three defenses were top 15 defenses in 2007, with the Seahawks at 15, the lowest of the three.

The biggest problem for the Jaguars has been getting off the field on third down. They've allowed opponents to convert on 49-percent of their third downs, which is tied with Kansas City for last in the league. The Jaguars also have just eight sacks in five games.

All three are having big problems defending the pass. San Diego is ranked last in the league, giving up 265.6 yards per game. The Jaguars are 26th at 237.2 yards per game, while Seattle is 25th at 237 yards per game.

In this era of pass-first football, you can't be a good defense and not play the pass well. That's why they're having trouble with scoring defense as well. Seattle is giving up 31 points a game, while the Chargers are at 25.8 and the Jaguars at 22.2.

It will be interesting to see how well these defenses bounce back.


Quick hits

---The way the Seattle secondary is playing it makes one wonder if the Seahawks might want to re-visit the idea of Jim Mora taking over as head coach next season when Mike Holmgren leaves. Mora is responsible for the secondary and it is a unit that is playing awful. Even Marcus Trufant, who has Pro Bowl ability, is struggling. These kinds of situations are why I don't like naming a successor until it's time. What if the Seattle secondary continues to stink it up? Then what?

---How's this for no bang for your buck? In the past two seasons, the Jaguars have given receivers Dennis Northcutt and Jerry Porter contracts that combine to average $47 million with $15 million in signing bonus money. For that money, those two have given the team a combined six catches for 61 yards. Porter missed the first three games as he recovered from hamstring surgery, but he has played the past two games and has one catch. Northcutt has the other five catches, but he's been a healthy inactive the past two weeks. So much for curing your receiver troubles with another team's castoffs. The bright spots for the Jaguars at receiver have been Matt Jones (23 catches to lead the team) and second-year player Mike Walker, who is coming off a six-catch, 107-yard game against Pittsburgh.

---Detroit Lions quarterback Jon Kitna looks done to me. He was jumpy in the pocket Sunday against the Bears and was off target on a lot of throws. It didn't help that when he was on target there were drops, including three by Roy Williams. It's time for the Lions to sit Kitna down. He was nothing more than a stopgap who exceeded expectations, but it's time to see what young player Drew Stanton can do. He's battling back from a thumb injury, but it's time to get him some work with the first team.

---To really see how far Eli Manning has come as a passer, one need only look at his yards-per-attempt number. In his first four seasons, his best number was 6.8 in 2005. In 2007, he was at 6.3. His number this season is 7.8 per completion. That's a full yard better than brother, Peyton, who is at 6.7 per completion. Eli Manning has thrown six touchdown passes and one interception in four games. He's arrived.

---I know a lot of fans are surprised at what Giants receiver Domenik Hixon is doing. He had four catches for 102 yards and a touchdown before leaving Sunday's game with Seattle with a concussion. He's also an excellent return man. As a receiver, offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride mentioned to me a few weeks back that Hixon reminded him of a receiver he had in Jacksonville. That player? Jimmy Smith. Hixon has a long way to go to get to that level, but Smith came from nowhere to become a star back in the day.

---When I did my list of the top-50 players in July, I struggled with not putting Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten on the list. He's on it now. Witten, who is one of the good guys in the league, leads the NFL with 35 catches with two scores. He is the best tight end in the league this season.

---If there's one player I truly feels sorry for it's Chiefs receiver Dwayne Bowe. He's a star playing with some bad quarterbacks. He has 27 receptions with two touchdowns catching passes from some bad quarterbacks. On a good team, he would be Brandon Marshall.

---Steelers linebacker James Harrison was flagged for a terrible personal foul in the fourth quarter of the Steelers' 26-21 victory over the Jaguars. He was called for a late hit on Jaguars quarterback David Garrard. It was clearly a bad call and Harrison said so after the game. "Ridiculous call," Harrison said. "You don't make a call like that. Unless the (official) might have had money on it." One thing's for certain: There will be money on that comment. Harrison can expect to be fined by the league office.

---Julius Peppers is playing good football again. Peppers already has three sacks this season, which is better than he had in all of 2007. "Julius Peppers is back to the Peppers that I think everyone has really learned to respect," said Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden, whose team plays the Panthers this week. "He’s healthy. He appears to be a dominant type of player that can take a game over." When he's on his game, Peppers is among the best pass rushers in football.

---I really love how the national media jumps all over gimmicky thinks when they work. The Wildcat formation has worked the past two games for the Dolphins, and now everybody is ready to make it the next great thing. Really? What happened to the "Slash" phenomenon? Or using option runners like Ray Lucas on the goal line? Gimmicks don't work for long. Really, what is the Wildcat other than a snap to a running back in the shotgun? Who can't stop that? The Patriots and Chargers haven't, which is almost hard to digest.


Category: NFL
Posted on: September 8, 2008 4:02 pm

Jaguars have line problems

The Jacksonville Jaguars have big problems on the offensive line. With center Brad Meester already out for at least another month with a torn biceps muscle, they lost both starting guards Sunday against the Tennessee Titans.

Left guard Vince Manuwai, their best lineman last season, is out for the year with a torn ACL. Right guard Maurice Williams suffered a torn biceps muscle in pre-game warm-ups Sunday and is lost for at least a couple of months.

With Buffalo coming to Jacksonville this week, that's not a good way to be preparing to face former teammate Marcus Stroud. The Jaguars traded Stroud to the Bills in the off-season in large part because he fell out of favor with Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio. Stroud has had this game circled for a while.

The Jaguars might look to Chris Naeole, who they let go after last season, as he recovered from a serious knee injury. They also could look at former Saints and Browns center LeCharles Bentley. He played guard in New Orleans before moving to center, and some scouts think he's a better guard than center.

The projected starters this week are Tutan Reyes and Uche Nwaneri, the two guards who finished against Tennessee. The Jaguars were down to five linemen when the game finished, which is why Nwaneri was in the game despite a dinged knee.




Category: NFL
Tags: Jaguars
Posted on: September 3, 2008 8:06 pm

Prisco Rants

Prisco Rants

---Mike Freeman is wrong again. How the heck can you blame the Jacksonville coaches and the organization for the 10 arrests the team has had in the past couple of years? These are grown men we're talking about. Is coach Jack Del Rio supposed to baby-sit them every night? Del Rio is a former player. He gives his players ample freedom. His only major rule regarding going out is not to do it 48 hours before a game. Other than that, you're on your own. Just don't get in trouble. And show up and work when you're asked to do so. Is that any different than what we all do in relation to our employers? If I get in trouble at night, is it on my boss, Mark Swanson, because he didn't guide me right? It's on me. I'm a grown man. And those arrests are on the players. "I don't think you can blame the coach," Jaguars tackle Tony Pashos said. "Jack's not with me in the evenings. Jack's not with me to hold my hand. Jack's not choosing my friends, choosing the people I hang out with. It's unfair to hold him accountable for that. When it comes to football stuff, it comes to the coach. He treats us like men, and it's up to us to respond like it." Blame the players. Don't blame the coach for their stupidity. That's like blaming your boss if you get a DUI.

---I hate it when people say nothing good happens after midnight. You hear that sentence a lot after NFL player incidents early in the morning following a night out on the town. Look, the time of day doesn't matter. The smarts of the player are what matters.
I've had plenty of fun after midnight. So have you.

---So Chad Johnson is officially Chad Ocho Cinco. Talk about publicity hounds. But that's okay. I'm changing my name to Pete Power Rankings. Hey, we need more publicity too.

---There's nothing worse than an ex-NFL player landing a cushy television job after spending his career being nothing more than a big pain-in-the-ass to deal with on a regular basis. That's you, Warren Sapp. Anybody who covered Sapp on a regular basis knows what an ogre he was as a player. He was rude and obnoxious and always challenged the questioner. He was a bully. Now he's landed on The NFL Network on and Showtime's "Inside the NFL." Sure, he'll be entertaining. But that's Sapp. He always turned the charm on for the right cameras. When they were off, he was obnoxious.

---I love when teams name captains at this time of the year. Who cares? Does it really matter who wears the "C" on the jersey. I think this type of thing is some of the most overrated stuff in sports. Brett Favre is one of the captains for the New York Jets? Yeah, he's played a lot of football for them to earn that.

---When Emmitt Smith said publicly this week that Cowboys running back Marion Barber has to learn to avoid contact, he was right. The kid is going to have his career cut short by all the collisions he initiates. It's one thing to rave about his toughness, but let's talk about the stupidity of it. The life expectancy of an NFL back is short anyway. Doing something that might cut it shorter is just dumb. Barber needs to avoid contact, not initiate it.


Category: NFL
Tags: Jaguars
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