"I think the speed that we've added is evident. If you look at some of the additions - offense, defense - guys who will impact our special teams, we've increased our team speed. That was something we set out to do entering the offseason, and something I think is evident when watching practice. One thing I was fortunate enough to inherit here is Tom Coughlin established a real strong work ethic here, and we've maintained that and built upon that. This team knows how to work. This is a hard-working, tough-minded football team and I like the work ethic of the squad. I think the area that's been most scrutinized, I guess because it lagged the other areas of our football team, is the passing game offensively. I feel confident based on what I've seen and the steps that we have taken that we will be an improved offense with our passing game in 2007. We're going to throw it and catch it better. A lot of things go into it. We've made some progress, and we still have a lot of work to do, but I am confident we are going to throw it and catch it better this year. I think what may not be fully appreciated is the fact that you have to go back and things that you even did well last year, you don't just start over and get those. You have to go back and earn that. Things that we have not had a chance to really look at, our run defense, it's important to be able to stop people from running it down your throat. There are different areas that we've got to be better at. Our special teams, we need to be better with our net field position and making big plays to win games and not allow them to cause you to lose games. A lot of different areas are being addressed, but obviously that's the one that's had the most attention and I see progress being made and I know we still have a lot of work to do."
"The quarterback thing continually gets bandied about. We have, like we do at all positions across the board, when we look at what we think are opportunities to upgrade then we look at them. The question was asked, 'do you handle the quarterback position any differently in terms of the communication?' And my answer was that we want to open lines of communication with our players and our staff. I encourage our staff to do that all the time. I think what transpired last week was when Dirk (Koetter) contacted the quarterbacks, he was doing what I had asked him to do, make sure the guys understand where we are and what we're doing. So was there any special effort made just because of that position? No. I think we do understand that there is more scrutiny at that position. The head coach and the quarterback are the two guys tied to the won-loss record. They're the guys the media is going to want to hear from all the time, so there is more scrutiny that way. But I expect and desire to have an open line of communication with my coaching staff and the individual player groups they coach. I want that relationship. We work hard at having that."
"And then obviously the releasing of Donovin (Darius). As I mentioned earlier, he's been a real class guy both on and off the field. He's a ferocious safety known for big hits and affecting the people that want to try to come over the middle and things like that. I think he's a good young man that's done a lot good things in the community. He's been a real positive influence in our locker room, and I told him when we talked this morning, I told him that I really respect him as a player and as a person, the way he conducts himself off the field and on the field. I wish him the best in his pursuit of future opportunities."
(in looking at the injuries the last two years, the drafting of Reggie Nelson and Josh Gattis and the cap number, did all these factors combined result in the release of Donovin Darius or was it one more than the other?)
"I think you could add the emergence of Gerald Sensabaugh who is into all of what you said, but I think it's always inclusive. I think you look at the total body of work, you look at the direction of the organization, you look at that specific position and the strength of that position and I think you try to make good, solid football decisions as an organization, and that's what we've elected to do."
(what evidence did you see in the OTAs that you liked to make you think the passing game will improve?)
"Conceptually, I like the design. I think Byron is a fan of the design, which helps. I think when your players buy into your system and embrace it, I think you have a chance to really captivate them. The spacing and some of the options that we're giving our quarterback. And I think the other thing is that we've settled on what we're determined to be good at. The plays we're working on now are the plays we're going to work on in camp and they're going to be the plays that we work on and execute and run in the games, and I think that's important. I think one of the things we did last year with our run game is identify exactly during the offseason, a very thorough process, what were we going to be good at? Let's rep the things we're going to be good at and lets make sure we understand how to handle the different looks you're going to get, that it really gets clean and clear for them and that's why I use the term black and white. I don't want to overdo that, but the bottom line is when you clean it up and it's real concise, guys know exactly where they belong and they can play fast, and when you see a team that plays fast that means they're executing, that means there's a crispness to it and I just believe the top teams do that. We've always prided ourselves defensively on playing fast and eliminating the gray. So I think Dirk and the staff have done a real nice job putting together our package, the package of plays we're going to work on. I think they suit our quarterback, I think they suit Byron Leftwich very well. Byron is excited about it. And then it comes down to the individual execution, the things that we're doing with all the quarterbacks in terms of the footwork and the balance and the timing and the receiver needing to be at the proper depth and be there every time, not half the time. The precision of it is what allows you to execute, and the difference between precision and execution is the difference between a ball coming out on time or not, and if it's on time, there's a chance to take advantage of the hole in the defense, and if it's not on time and it doesn't come out and the spacing is not proper, then it all breaks down, and the guy who is going to take the heat for it is the quarterback. So I like what I'm seeing in terms of the attention to detail in all those areas. When I say that I'm saying I see where it's going and where it needs to go and I know we have a lot of work to do yet, but I like the progress that I'm seeing."
(if Daunte Culpepper is signed here, will it be a situation where he is going to be able to compete for the starting job?)
"No. Byron is our quarterback. We're not going down that road. I've been very clear with everyone involved. I can't talk about players, but I've been very clear in that this is a supporting role and Byron is our quarterback."
"Changing gears and kind of finishing is that one thing I think Todd Monken has done a great job of being very blunt, open and honest about it. We're searching for somebody to emerge. Coming out of the OTAs, the guy who has really stepped up and put himself into the picture is Charles Sharon. He's a guy who has earned his way into an opportunity and a look in camp to see if he can be as productive as he's been in these OTAs. So we're looking. Where a guy was drafted, how a guy was brought in here, how they got here really doesn't matter at this point. We're kind of beyond that. I think at this point in our development as a football team, we're at a point where the guys who step up and get where they're supposed to be consistently and fight for and catch the ball consistently and help us make plays consistently, those are going to be the guys you're going to see lining up."
(Mike Walker looked really good the last couple of days. Would you be comfortable going with a rookie if he's the guy who emerges?)
"It's wide open. Everybody is going to have an opportunity. (John) Broussard, (Mike) Walker - they're obviously the youngest guys here but … Dennis Northcutt was brought in here to fill a role and he's exactly what we thought we were getting. Tony Pashos was brought in here to fill a role. We think he's exactly what we thought we were getting. We need that group, somebody to step up and take charge. Ernest Wilford has had an outstanding offseason. Once again, he's very dependable, very consistent. What he lacks in top end (speed), he makes up with sheer desire. But we're going to let the most productive guys emerge and play. We've done this at other positions where nobody thought we could get it done. We've had corner situations, running back situations, we've had linebacker situations, each year there's a group that's being challenged with speculation whether or not we'll be able to find a guy to do it, and I'm telling you that I think we have the guys here and through competition we're going to find the right combination of players to help us do the things that we want to be able to do offensively."
(what is the health status of Matt Jones and Reggie Williams at this point?)
"They practiced today."
(what percentage are they healthy?)
"I wouldn't try to gauge that."
(are they 100%?)
"I wouldn't speculate on that."
(are you happy with their…?)
"I would say that either."
(they've been hurt a lot during camp, where do they stand now?)
"They don't stand at the front of the line. One thing that is apparent, the best ability is availability, and it's really difficult to improve as a football player if you're not taking reps. We can work on maybe attempting some type of osmosis, to transfer information into their heads, but I think really ultimately it comes down to being productive on the field, the timing of the routes with the quarterback, getting to the right spots, being where you're supposed to be when you're supposed to be there so the quarterback can get rid of the ball on time based on his read. Those are the things that we will be better at, and that's why I'm saying very clearly that the guys that show our staff that they can be depended on to be there to do those things are going to be the guys that play."
(are you saying it's up to the players to show up to training camp healthy?)
"I'm not trying to make a statement. I think I'm making the ones I care to make. I'm saying plenty."
(are Jones and Williams 'not in the front of the line' because they're not producing or because they're hurt?)
"It doesn't really matter, does it? I don't think it really matters why. The bottom line is we have a good football team and we're counting on getting production and we're going to play the guys that are going to produce."
(are you getting what you thought you would out of Tony Pashos?)
"Yes. Tony is a great fit for us. He has a real tenacious approach, a dogged, determined guy. He's a big ol' right tackle. It was our desire to firm up the pocket and to create some more holes and I think he'll be nice addition for us."
(you don't need to put on the pads to know that?)
(what does the addition of Pashos mean for Maurice Williams? Do you see a roster spot for him still?)
"Well, yeah. When we went into the offseason, he was contending for a backup spot, getting an opportunity to start with Khalif (Barnes) on the left side, pushing Khalif. Khalif has had a real strong offseason and right now it appears that Mo would be more of a backup. Of course we'll see when the pads get on. All that stuff gets more cleaned up then. Tony is what we thought he would be and Khalif has had a real strong offseason."
(on resolving Bobby McCray's contract issue)
"Bobby signed his tender."
(are you worried about him being unhappy? Have you spoken to him about this situation?)
"I haven't spoken with Bobby."
(what was your first reaction to the charges on Charles Sharon, which were recently dropped? Did you think it was out of character for him?)
"I don't really see any benefit in rehashing charges that have been dropped. I think it's an incident that is behind us and behind him and we're moving forward."
(will Chris Naeole be at training camp? Have you talked to him?)
(on the progress of Marcedes Lewis. Do you feel he's back to where he needs to be or not there yet?)
"He's still got a lot of work to do. I think he's going to be a good player but he still has a lot of work to do. Greg Estandia has had a real nice offseason. Another guy, like Charles Sharon, that just showed up every day and made plays, and he's done a nice job with the opportunity he's had. Jermaine Wiggins is a great veteran presence for us. Can do everything right, can do everything - a solid veteran. (George) Wrighster is on the mend. We've got two guys that are at this point question marks for being prepared for training camp, and George Wrighster is one and Brian Smith. Those are the two guys that are question marks for the start of camp."
(what about Reggie Hayward?)
"I've heard nothing but good things about Reggie being ready. But those are the two guys at this point, today, who remain a question mark more so than Reggie."
(is Andrew Carnahan ok?)
(how close was Donovin Darius to being ready physically?)
"He's close. He has a little calf strain he's working through but he's close."
(how do the tight ends line up right now?)
"Marcedes Lewis has a lot of work to do as well. I think Marcedes is going to be fine, but he's got a lot of work to do. We'll see. I'm not trying to dodge it but why worry about it? I just said there's work to be done. I like the work that's been put in, but there's still a lot of work that's yet to be done and it's necessary for us to go to that level that we expect to be at. I feel confident that we will get there and that we will be productive and where the question is, is who is going to be the guy doing it? That's still going to be determined through camp."
(what are your expectations for the season in terms of your division?)
"Our expectation every year is to earn a spot in the playoffs, and the surest way to do that is to win your division. On top of our division is the defending world champs, a very good football team. So obviously they're the one out in front that everybody else is chasing. My expectation is for this football team to complete its offseason, finish building that foundation of conditioning that will enable you to stay on the field and help our football team in the fall. And then we're going to go to camp and we're going to prepare this team to go contend for that division crown. Obviously they're the team everybody is chasing."
(are there two more weeks of conditioning left?)
"Yes, two more with the team. You take a little break as a player but you can't be totally static for six weeks."
(at the end of last season you said the two areas you thought were major emphasis for this team - do a better job of winning in the division and the quarterback has to be able in the final minutes be able to win the game. With the new offense, do you expect it will increase your chances for that to happen when those needs arise?)
"In part of our evaluation of everything, which we've done very thoroughly, the entire building, we've looked everywhere to try to be a little bit better wherever we possibly could, and one of the things that in reviewing what Byron has been is that Byron has done well in the two-minute setting several times in his career. Having Byron healthy and in the game will give us an opportunity to be successful in those settings, and he's already in his short career provided examples of that. The Jets game, the Buffalo game, even last year at the end the Washington game, so he's shown that ability. That's one of the things he brings. He's a big, strong, intelligent, big-armed quarterback that is very calm and very efficient in that setting."
(across the board, have any other players other than Mike Walker, Ernest Wilford and Greg Estandia caught your attention?)
"(Charles) Sharon, Dee Webb has been very good. He really kind of picked up where he left off last year in terms of footwork and overall awareness of our defense. He's done a nice job. (Gerald) Sensabaugh is really coming on. Justin Durant has come in and picked up things defensively very well. He's going to be a good football player. James Wyche has had a nice offseason and Brent Hawkins has been awesome in shorts. Obviously, those linemen can't wait until he gets some pads on so they can have something to hold on to. He's very, very explosive. Last year he had that little groin issue he was fighting through camp. We have not seen him at full speed, really, since the first couple days of camp last year. He's been fighting this injury. It's something that he fought through and fought through and finally it just completely tore or ruptured or whatever happened, but the injury got bad enough to where he couldn't continue to go on. But he's mended up and healed up and he's an explosive element that we have defensively, and I'm excited about it."
(on LaBrandon Toefield and Montell Owens)
"Montell, he made his mark on special teams. He came in here last year, he was ninth out of nine running backs in a five-man race, and he made the team. A great story in terms of a guy not worrying about where he was on the depth chart, just came to work every day and he just was so impressive in special teams drills that you had to find a way to get a look in the games. And he was so good in those games that all of a sudden coaches are fighting for a way to keep him and he ended up making our football team. So, Montell has made the most of the opportunities he's been given. LaBrandon is a real solid running back. He's a good runner. He kind of can do everything. He's got good size. A good football player. We're glad we have him back."
(on Greg Jones)
"Greg's looking good. He's recovering from his injury. He's back practicing with us. He's a big, strong, tough guy."
(is he favoring his knee?)
"No, he looks good. We'll be smart with him. There will be a few guys that we'll want to be smart with during camp and be proactive in terms of how much we subject them to in terms of reps in camp."
(has the time for development and production arrived for Matt Jones and Reggie Williams?)
"I think first of all there are two reasons that there is…one, there is a perception of there is a long leash. I think what it is, is obviously you saw something in that person in your evaluation that as an organization allows you to put him up there and take him that high. So you believe you saw something that was worthy of development. At some point that player needs to show that development and you need to see it. I think it's important that you're patient enough to allow that development to occur, but there is no question that at some point there has to be the production to match. I refer to the Chris Naeole situation in New Orleans where he was taken high. You don't need the guy to merit the pick. The pick is done. What we want is a guy who can help us win, and so there is no question that where we are as a football team, we're simply looking for the best guys to help us win. And where a guy was selected has very little to do with it."
(on training camp being different this year)
"A little longer work at night. A little shorter work in the morning. We're still going to work once a day on Wednesday during camp but we're going to make that earlier. We're going to practice at 1:30pm, I believe, on Wednesdays. Just some tweaking of the schedule."
(what is your thinking with the shorter mornings and longer nights?)
"We're getting closer and closer to one-a-days. Some of the morning practices, at my discretion, will go to what we call a 'slide and glide' mode where won't wear the helmets. We'll just go out in shorts and get the mental reps but not punish the bodies."
(on two-a-day practices)
"The old-fashioned two-a-days were designed to get players in shape, and now you're taking your team into camp in most cases in shape. So now what coaches do is utilize the time that we have them here when we're working twice a day to get the mental preparation for all the different looks you need for the development of your system that you're going to use throughout the course of the season. You're working situations, you're working personnel groupings, you're working multiplicity of formations and shifts and all those, and motions and what-not, and all the different game situations you need to cover so your team is prepared to play. Well, we can do some of that work without being full speed and wearing down our football team. What our design is is to take this football team and prepare it but have it as healthy and fresh as possible for the opener."
(would this concept also help cut down injuries?)
"That should be a benefit as well."
(so did that go into your thinking as well?)
"I feel like we have a good football team. There is mental work that needs to be work, there is conditioning that needs to be done, but we want to do only what we need to do to prepare our team to be ready to go and where I see opportunities to pull back a little bit, then I'm going to pull back. There is no way to get around one thing; camp is tough. It's hot and it's competitive. There's a lot of banging, there's a lot of soreness. There's no way getting around that, but we are systematically taking steps in an approach we think will help us get through the season healthier and fresher."
(with Fred Taylor turning 31 this year, do you perceive cutting back him at all, especially with the emergence of Maurice Jones-Drew?) "We did that a little bit last year in terms of sharing the load, having a one-two punch. I think it worked very well for Fred and I think it worked very well for Maurice and offensively I don't know if there was a better one-two punch in the league."
(are you concerned about Taylor's age at all?)
"I'm aware of his age. I think he is too. He's still a very good football player."
(on Justin Durant's speed)
"He's very sudden. He's got instinct for the position and I think he's very sudden in and out of his cuts, tracking backs, matching receivers, blitzing, accelerating. He's got some bursts. He's an explosive athlete."
(what side to you have him on? Are you training him for both outside spots?)
(How has Gattis looked?)
(in describing your offense and what is different from the past?)
"I don't really care to try and contrast what we're doing now versus what was because then you get into conversations that there is no benefit in going back and discussing what wasn't good about the past. I prefer to talk about what we're doing going forward and where we can keep questions along that path I'll be able to open up and give more insight. But I don't think it does anybody any good to sit here and talk disparaginly about any of the coaches that were here. I have respect for those guys and there's no reason to get into that."
(on referring to working on the spacing on the offense, was that something when you interviewed Dirk Koetter was a big conversation point or a calling card of his?)
"I think that anybody that throws the ball well does a nice job with their spacing. The simple things of prying open a curl route with the timing of the underneath portion pulling the curl-flat defender out early enough for the window to open up on time with the quarterback so the quarterback can deliver. Just stuff like that. Not that it wasn't done but I think the detail with which he's married up the depth of routes and the timing of the routes coming open and the preciseness of the depths and the detail, it's I think what it needs to be. I think it's very strong. I think the detail, the preciseness and the organization of it all, the thoroughness of it all has been very good. It's very concise, very teachable and so that's what gets into that, 'ok now it's been clearly defined.' It's 15 yards. It's not 12 sometimes. It's not 18 sometimes. It's 15 yards. And when you're coming out of your break, we need you coming 45 back to the quarterback, not half the time turn it out, half the time coming straight back. 45 degrees every time, and when you hear the right thing over and over and you're told to do the right thing, eventually you kind of understand what is expected of you and you begin to do it and those details are what separate those very good teams from the solid teams. I think the detail is where you separate. We're all talented. The whole league is full of talented players and coaches. How many times have I said that? How many examples to do you see? The margin is small. I just believe that the approach, the precision, the detail, the way it's said the same way every day. The same play comes up, it's exactly how it is going to be executed, and now you just have to get it. Even if they make a great play, a great catch and a great throw but it wasn't 15 yards, it's supposed to be 15 yards, it's not just 'good catch anyway.' No, it's like we need 15 yards there. We got away with it here but it's going to hurt us. We need 15 yards."
(during Dirk Koetter's interview, what was it that told you he was the guy to hire?)
"It wasn't just me interviewing him and meeting him this year because I had a relationship (with him). I spoke at Arizona State after the Super Bowl or the year before the Super Bowl, I can't remember which, but '99 or 2000, I've known Dirk since then. He was teammates with Marvin Lewis. I've known him through Marvin for a number of years and have been tracking him, so all of that, it's all a part of being able to get the right guy."
(but don't players make plays? You can call everything brilliantly and if these guys don't execute it what can you do?)
"That's just the start. That's one component. I think it absolutely comes down to the fundamentals of blocking and tackling and different derivatives. Running the precise route, catching the ball, the quarterback's footwork being right, but when all of those details are being worked and consistently applied, that's what coaching is all about. Our job is to rep them and condition them and help them execute to the utmost of their capability. It doesn't mean you're going to be perfect. It doesn't mean you're not going to make mistakes. There are going to be balls that sail or guys that fall down or whatever."
(on not playing consistently last season to the level of the opponent)
"Obviously, we weren't consistent enough. I think that the charge for us is to find a purpose beyond playing each opponent. We've got to find a purpose greater than playing that opponent. I believe in purposed-filled work. Our quest, our vision for excellence, our driving force must be greater than just matching the opponent week in and week out. I think part of what we do in examining opponents and studying them so much kind of creates a certain sense of maybe the attention to focus going on them but I think it's most important for our football team to focus its energy on the greater purpose… I do believe the concept of there being a purpose that is bigger than each opponent. I think that's important for us to develop. I think if our focus each week is the opponent then if they're really good, we're going to play to match that and if they're not considered as good, we're going to match that, and I think our purpose and our vision has to be on what we can be, to allow us to play at a higher level consistently."
(do you think on some level that's sort of been the m.o. of this team?)
"I think that has been the m.o. of this team thus far in our first four years. Except for my first year, we've been a good football team. Not a great team but we've been a good team the last three years and we expect to build on that."
(is this a fair system, where if you coach five years and don't win a playoff game you're in trouble?)
"First, I'm not sure where that's written, what you just suggested. The bottom line is I think for me my energy has to be focused on enjoying what I do, which I enjoy what I do. I love coaching, I love motivating men, I love leading them and for me the charge is to take this group of men and help push, prod, motivate, and get this team to be all that it's capable of being. I'm very appreciative of the opportunity that I have as the head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars, and I'm really excited about the players and the coaches that we've assembled for this campaign. My energies are focused on just enjoying the process of working at it and putting all the positive energy I can into helping this team contend for a championship and ultimately win a championship."
(but now there doesn't seem to be the patience there once was.)
"I think it can't change though the approach of, and I say it all the time, but I think the most important thing to do is to make good, solid, fundamentally sound decisions about your roster, about how you can strengthen it, ensuring that the things you're doing are innovative in all three areas - offense, defense and special teams - and then conditioning and motivating your squad to go out and perform at a high level. That's what we do. Along that line, I really believe that you create a climate and I think we've done that. We've created a climate and a culture here where they expect to be good and they're willing to work at it, and they understand that the coach and the owner want them to not only be good football players but we're looking for good people in the community. Our guys are out doing things, visiting hospitals, visiting schools, they're doing things I'm proud of, and on top of that we're building a real solid football team that we think has a chance."
(on wearing the suit again this season)
"I just got something last night or yesterday afternoon that said that they're talking about possibly having the ability to wear them at home games, so we'll see. I haven't' seen anything formally yet but I know it's being talked about."
(is there a specific area the defense needs improvement?)
"We need to turn the ball over, need to take the ball away from the offense more, specially fumbles have been a big emphasis for us all offseason. To be good on defense, you have to be able to stop the run. You can't let people pound you when they want to pound you. You've got to be able to get off the field on third down and you've got to be able to take the ball away from the opponent. We intercepted it last year but for whatever reason it was just one of those years we did not force near enough fumbles, so I can assure you we will be attacking the football this year."
(on the pass rush)
"We're going to have a real good pass rushers this year."
(better than last year?)
(do you think players like Brent Hawkins and Bobby McCray will help?)
"Hawkins is joining Bobby. We're getting Reggie (Hayward) back and the speed that we have at linebacker with Daryl Smith, Clint Ingram, Justin Durant and Mike Peterson again, those four guys can all go pretty good."
(on special teams, is everything ok except for the punting game?)
"We've been solid in areas. We just feel like we can be better and we feel like Adam (Podlesh) will give us a boost. He's a little better at directional punting. That was an area that Deuce really didn't like. He really didn't like to go directional. We got a guy that has been a directional punter in college. When we're punting from the 50 going in, we simply have to pin them down. We've got to be able to take advantage of that. Then there are times when you're backed up, you have to be able to drive that ball out of there but still have some hang time. Those are things that we think he's going to be able to help us with."
(and kickoffs and kickoff coverage?)
"Yeah, we want to be better everywhere we can and the areas where we've been strong, we want to continue to be strong in and the areas where we've clearly not been as strong, we're going to look for ways to be stronger."
(will Daryl Smith and Mike Peterson be interchangeable at times?)
"We like having flexibility, versatility with our guys. I think Daryl showed last year he's a very good football player and did a nice job going in for Mike. Having options is nice. It's kind of like trying to stack a lineup right now. We just now they're good football players and they'll be able to do some things that we chose to do."
(is Marcus Stroud going to be ready for training camp?)
"Marcus is doing great. He's running. By design we held him off until June before we started to run him and he's run without incident and has really had a great offseason. John Henderson and Marcus Stroud, there are a host of guys who have been working their tails off, but they have really had a strong offseason kind of leading the way."
"We've completed our OTA sessions. We got 18 really good practices in over the last month and a half. We got a chance to see some of our new guys, some of our draft picks who joined the team and have done a nice job. We set out this year to build on what we've done the last couple years here as a football team, as an organization, and feel like we had a real solid offseason, giving us a chance now to finish up our conditioning and then come into training camp ready to finish up getting ready for the season. We've increased our team's speed tremendously. I think those of you who that have been out here watching us practice, you can see that. It's evident. I know the big question out there is wide receiver, quarterback, all that stuff and the passing game. We're going to throw it and catch it better this year. If you've been out enough to know, you can see there are really some good concepts, some really good design and now it's just matter of rep-ing it and getting the execution, and we've seen progress but we know we still have a ways to go. That's no different than any other section of our team right now. I think what kind of gets forgotten is that, it's not perfect in the run front right now either but we're working on it. It's not perfect in the protection yet either but we're working on it. The one thing we do have, I inherited from Tom Coughlin and we have continued here, we have a very strong work ethic here in Jacksonville. This is a tough football team and they know how to work it. Tom really established that in the beginning back in '95 and we have continued that, something I believe in. We have a very tough, strong physical football team that's going to go after people and we're working on all phases. I know one gets more attention than the other. We feel like it was a real productive offseason and now we look forward to a little bit of a break, re-energizing our batteries, getting away, finishing up the conditioning and then coming back strong at the end of July to get started.
"The quarterback situation, I've said it and I'll say it again. I really like our group. I think Byron is poised to have a huge year for us. He's working at it. I believe that it's a really good fit with what we're asking him to do, the freedom that he has right now in terms of using his strength, which is he is very intelligent and has a big strong arm, and he's really embraced the footwork and all the things that are going to help him be on balance more often and be more accurate. I believe going into his fifth year here he's poised to have a real breakout, so we'll see. I'm excited about his development and we'll see how it goes.
"Obviously there was some news this morning that would have to be part of this as we wrap-up our OTAs. We have elected to release Donovin Darius. Donovin Darius is an outstanding human being. He's been an excellent player for us. He's tremendous in the community. He's a classy guy. I met with him this morning and told him those things. I have a great deal of respect for who his is on and off the field. He was a ferocious hitter for us for a number of years. A guy that you definitely offensively had to count for. We have elected at this time as an organization to move forward and to allow him to pursue other opportunities. We have let him know that and like I said, a great deal of respect and admiration for the man and for the player he was here as a Jacksonville Jaguar, but we have made that decision to move on."
(was releasing Donovin Darius a matter of age and injury catching up with him?)
"I think you look at the total body of work and you look at the direction of your football team. Certainly we're excited about some of the draft picks that have joined this football team. We're also excited about the emergence of Gerald Sensabaugh. We believe that Gerald has stepped in over the last couple years when needed and played well. He played in the playoff game. He's got experience. He's really continuing to development and blossom. We think he's poised to really have an impact for us in the secondary."
(did you think when you drafted Reggie Nelson that this was a move that may happen?)
"Obviously as an organization, we're working as hard as we can to be as good as we can be right be now. We constantly have an eye for the future and towards the future. I think you have to do that. So obviously we've had discussions and conversations regarding our entire roster but it was a decision that we had made to go ahead and allow him to pursue other opportunities and for us to move on as a football team."
(how did Darius handle the news when you told him?)
"He's a gentleman. He's a very classy guy. I'd rather let him try and speak for himself, but he and I have a very good relationship and we have since I've been here and I really appreciate the man he is and all that he's brought to the Jaguars."
(you have now lost two leaders on defense with Darius and Deon Grant. How to you replace that?)
"They've got to step-up, that's what you do and no doubt Donovin was a great leader for us. Certainly whenever there is movement where somebody leaves then there is that opportunity for someone else to step up and step into that role."
(was this a salary cap move?)
"No, we're not bound by any cap decisions. We're very healthy in terms of our cap space so it's not a reaction in order to get below the cap or anything like that."
(in terms of internal communication when considering other players, do you have to handle it differently?)
"I talk to my coaching staff all the time, 'listen, we have to have relationships with our players.' I believe that we have a strong relationship right now with Dirk Koetter and the quarterback group, and so when this was developing I asked Dirk, I said make sure that you communicate properly to all the guys so that they're aware of what may be swirling around out there, that I wanted them to understand up front what as organization we were doing. The only difference between the quarterback and the other positions is they're going to get asked how they feel about it, where us poor linebackers, nobody cares what we think. So I think from that standpoint you understand they're going to be asked the questions so you want them to have the knowledge to be able to answer it accurately."
(what do you want the team to do between now and the start of training camp?)
"We need to finish our offseason conditioning. We have a couple of weeks left before we take a break as a team. We won't be on the football field anymore as a team but these next couple weeks are really important. I mentioned l think last week really is the crunch time because you put the cap on offseason and you put a base on your legs before you go into the season. The better you build that base, that foundation, that strength, that conditioning level, the better you'll be able to withstand what we put them through during the year, and so it's important the guys finish it strong and do a nice job with it. For the most we've had really good effort, really good work. A lot of our guys are where they need to be and now they need to maintain. There are a few guys who need to step it up."
(will Bobby McCray be working with the team now that he has signed his contract?)
"I don't know. I know he came in and signed his tender. I've heard about where he's working and what he's doing but I haven't seen him personally so I can't comment."
(which of the rookies and free agents are you most excited about?)
"Defensively, the addition of Reggie Nelson and Justin Durant. Their speed is real evident. They've got ball-hawking ability. Both of them are constantly blurring across the field, across the screen when you're watching the tape and we feel like they'll both be able to have an impact for us on defense and on special teams."
(do you think this is a make or break year for you professionally?)
"Not really. There is always an opportunity to go out and improve on what you did the year before and rededicate yourself to taking advantage of the opportunity. I think we've assembled a really strong football team. We've got a very good situation cap-wise. We're healthy. We have a lot of good young players locked up for the future. We have a real solid core of veterans. We've got a quarterback entering his fifth year that is showing a lot of promise, that he's as healthy as he's been in two years. So there are a lot of things to be encouraged about. So I'm excited, I'm energized about getting the opportunity to take this team and lead this team into 2007 and looking forward to getting through camp and getting some good work done and getting into the season and playing."
(with the Colts being in the Super Bowl champions and in your division, does that give your team extra motivation?)
"I don't think we're short on motivation to chase for the crown. I think obviously Tony (Dungy) did a great job with his team and really answered a lot of questions late in the year that they had been asking themselves throughout the course of the year, and got it right and got hot and won a championship. I think the biggest thing as an organization we want to do is build our football team strong so that we can fight our way into a tournament and then from there, you want to get hot. Last year, they didn't go in as the favorites but they got hot at the right time. I think you've seen examples the last few years where teams are not being ballyhooed about as the next coming or anything but they get hot at the right time and win a world championship. I think the key for us as an organization is to continue to build a strong football team that can fight its way into the playoffs. From there, like I said, you want to get hot."
JagNation Press Pass: Jack Del Rio
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