Jags Back Jack

The Jaguars are verbally backing coach Jack Del Rio. Now the question is whether they're going to back him on the field and save their season.

Del Rio was criticized by former Steelers coach Bill Cowher on CBS for his decision to toss Mike Peterson out of a team meeting last Wednesday after Peterson tried to explain why he celebrated after a sack when the Jaguars were trailing 21-3 in Cincinnati.

Del Rio also cracked down and instituted some new rules, including no loud music in the locker room or hat and hoods in the meeting room.

Del Rio had a reputation for being an easy-rider until he cracked down.

"When you look at the situation, he (Peterson) did some celebration, that's how he plays the game of football," Cowher said on the CBS pre-game show.

"Now in terms of taking away some of these privileges: taking away music, taking away playing dominoes. If it was OK when you're winning, now all of a sudden take it away when you're losing - be careful what kind of message you're sending. You want your team to be loose and confident, not uptight and play cautious. I think I'd be concerned about the message you're sending to your team."

Cowher added, "He knows the pulse of his team. To me you address those things on Monday. For him to still have that going on Wednesday, we used to have a 24-hour rule whether it was good or bad. When you come back on Wednesday you focus on the next week. To come back on Wednesday and to still have this thing being addressed is a little bit of a distraction."

On top of that, Marshall Faulk said on the NFL Network that Del Rio lost the team.

Del Rio was fortunate that the Jaguars played the winless Detroit Lions Sunday. But Del Rio will find himself under the microscope Sunday when the Jaguars host the unbeaten Tennessee Titans.

The Jaguars need a victory to even their record at 5-5 and put themselves back in the playoff picture. A loss would leave them at 4-6 and all but end their playoff hopes.

After the easy victory, the players insisted they still support Del Rio and insisted he hasn't lost the team.

"We're behind Jack 100 per cent," Garrard said.

Offensive tackle Tony Pashos said, "Nobody's lost any faith in each other or the coach."

"Jack still has control of this team and we're still unified," defensive end Reggie Hayward said.

And Hayward said Del Rio's outburst last Wednesday when he ejected Peterson was about more than the loss in Cincinnati the previous Sunday so he didn't violate the 24-hour rule.

Hayward said, "He had some things he wanted to get off his chest. It was a culmination of things that started in the beginning of the season."

When Del Rio was asked about Cowher's comments, he said with a smile, "That's good. That's good."

Del Rio added that Cowher isn't a coach anymore.

"You're a media guy. It's good stuff, they provide colorful insight," he said.

When Del Rio was asked about the perception that a players' coach can erode a team by being too lax over a long period of time, he said, "I'm not concerned with feeding or playing or worrying about perception. I'm worried about the reality of coaching this football team. I'm going to do the things that need to be done for the good of this team. That's what it's all about."

Del Rio, though, disagreed with the perception that he had been too lax and was cracking down to restore discipline.

"I think that's a negative characterization and it's inaccurate," he said.

Explaining his actions, he said, "All I did was re-focus. It was really quite simple, we just refocused on things that are important to win games. Really quite simple."

Del Rio also said it wasn't difficult last week to take actions that seemed to be out of character for a coach with an easy rider reputation.

"I never had a problem with any of that. It's not more difficult at all. In fact, I don't ever consider difficulty. I only consider right and wrong. Some of the things that are absolutely the right things to do are the hardest things to do, but that doesn't factor in to whether it gets done or not. If it's right, it's the best thing for the team, I'm going to do it. That's what I center my decisions on," he said.


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