Inside Slant / Matt Jones

Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio is losing his patience with wide receiver Matt Jones. Drafted on the first round in 2005, Jones was supposed to make the switch from quarterback to wide receiver, but he's been a near bust.

Not only does he have only three catches in the team's first two games, but he often acts lackadaisical on the field and often jogs when he's not in the play. Del Rio has seen enough of that attitude.

"I'm not comfortable with some of the body language he's exhibiting," Del Rio said while reviewing the team's 13-10 victory over the Atlanta Falcons Sunday. Del Rio declined to say when he talked to Jones, the team's 2005 first-round draft pick, about the issue. "I talk to my players all the time when I see things," and said that Jones has improved in practice, "But I'd like to see it carry over in the games."

Jones was not available for comment Monday. Del Rio declined to go into much detail about what he told Jones. "What I saw and the responses I get are for private consumption," he said. Since Jones doesn't appear to be eager to take contact over the middle and sometimes drops passes when he's hit, Del Rio was asked if he thinks the receiver is "soft."

"I don't think that's something (soft) that anybody ought to ever say about an athlete," Del Rio said. "I'm not sure that's appropriate." Del Rio, though, said that body language can make a difference because the players "feed off each other." "If you come into a room and you're smiling, you can infect people around here. A guy like Reggie Nelson, he's so full of energy, when he enters a room, he has an infectious ability," Del Rio explained. "It's kind of contagious. Other people feel energized. I think conversely, sometimes when you have a more casual demeanor about it, it can be misconstrued."

By going public with his unhappiness with Jones, Del Rio is showing he's no longer shy about criticizing the first-round picks of James "Shack" Harris, the team's vice president of player personnel. He's already cut Byron Leftwich, Harris' initial first-round pick in 2003. Del Rio is likely to be fired if the Jaguars don't make the playoffs and he obviously wants to make the point that one of the team's problems is that Harris' first-round picks, including Leftwich, Reggie Williams, Jones and Marcedes Lewis, haven't become big-time players.


Jags Illustrated Top Stories