Reviewing the team's 5-11 record, the Jaguars coach said a lot of things will have to change to get the team back in playoff contention -- including a tougher training camp. And players have to buy into his plan and participate in the offseason program in Jacksonville. No more training at different sites.
"Obviously 2008 was not a good year for the Jaguars organization," Del Rio said. "We went into the year with high expectations and didn't realize those expectations, really didn't even come close to it. On the whole, the year was unacceptable. It was disappointing, and we're all accountable.
"Certainly accountability is something I believe in, and it has to start with me. I myself recognize the need to do a much better job with my staff, and we as a staff need to do a much better job with our players in maximizing the ability our players have and putting out a much better product. I feel like we left some things out there in 2008.
"It's up to me to lead the way, show this organization the vision that I have for us getting things back in order and getting back to the postseason, which is what I'm hired to do is to get this team into the postseason, get us back to the postseason in 2009 where we can contend for a world championship."
He also wants the team to reclaim its old personality as a physical team.
"I think for me, for us, there's really a need for us to get back to the true identity of who we are as a football team," he said. "I believe in smart, tough football. I believe in having a physical football team. I believe in having a team that can stop the opponent from running the ball and that can hassle the quarterback and harass the quarterback. I believe in having a locker room full of unselfish players, a staff of unselfish coaches, and that together we can accomplish great things.
"I don't believe we had enough of that togetherness and unselfishness this year, and it's something that I very much want us to get back to and am very determined to see that that is the case."
Del Rio did concede the team dealt with a lot of issues last year.
"When you look at the year, certainly I can acknowledge some of the difficulties that we were confronted with," he said. "Nobody could anticipate the Big Rich (Collier) incident. Certainly we had our share of injuries. We took a swing and I guess you could say missed with a couple of the free agent acquisitions (Jerry Porter and Drayton Florence) that didn't quite pan out the way we had hoped. Certainly there was the incident where Mike (Peterson) and I had a disagreement.
"There were some contract issues that were part of the climate that created a selfish atmosphere rather than an unselfish atmosphere. Those are not conducive to having the type of team that I desire to have here in Jacksonville.
"I acknowledge those are all out there, but I don't choose to dwell on that. I think they're there. They're part of the past. It's my belief that you acknowledge the things that are part of the reality, but you don't have to sit there and dwell on that forever.
"I think for us the most important thing is to acknowledge what they were, learn from the mistakes that have been made, and go forward with renewed energy. So we're going to put that in our rearview mirror, that's a part of 2008, and as we start 2009, we're going to go forward with a lot of energy, a lot of determination to make this thing better."
But the biggest problem is the team's lack of talent, as the Jaguars have drafted only one Pro Bowl player (Rashean Mathis) in the past six seasons. That record of futility led to the resignation under fire of James "Shack" Harris, the vice president of player personnel.
But the Jaguars didn't bring in a new chief of personnel. They just promoted Gene Smith, the director of pro and college personnel, to the top job.
Del Rio only survived because it would cost owner Wayne Weaver $21 million to fire him. But if Del Rio has another losing season next year, Weaver will likely bite the bullet and fire him.
Tough Guy Del Rio
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