WOW, what a day that was in Jacksonville! November 29th, 2011 will long be remembered as the day the Jaguars hit the trifecta: fired their coach, extended their G.M. and sold the team. It has to be a first for an NFL franchise to announce all three in one day. To say the least, it was a little overwhelming for anyone like me who has been or is involved with the Jaguars organization.
Let me start with the one that caught me the most off-guard: the selling of the team to Shahid Khan. I knew that Mr. Weaver was interested in selling the team in the near future, but I just didn’t realize how near it was. Wayne Weaver was responsible for bringing the Jaguars to Jacksonville and has made huge contributions to the Jaguars organization and the city of Jacksonville. He has been a model owner and will be missed in Jacksonville. I don’t know much about Mr. Khan, but I am excited to meet him and see the energy he will bring to the organization. One era has ended and a new one will begin for the Jaguars on January 4th, 2012.
The announcement that didn’t surprise me was the firing of Jack Del Rio. Over the nine years Jack was the head coach of the Jaguars, he had a losing record (68-71 in the regular season), with only two playoff appearances and no division titles. The fan base had grown tired and frustrated with the lack of progress, especially in the last four years, and what many considered to be questionable game management decisions. Mr. Weaver said it best in the press conference announcing the decision that the fan base and organization deserve better. You can’t pin all the struggles of the last nine years on Jack–for example, the level of his involvement in the selection of poor first-round draft picks early in his tenure was always debated–but when you’re the head coach of an NFL team, if you don’t win, sooner or later, you will be fired. Mr. Weaver was more than patient with Jack.
And lastly, as far as the decision to extend the contract of Gene Smith, I am in agreement and like the move for a few reasons. First, I think that Gene has done a good job rebuilding this roster in the three years he has served as General Manager. He has taken a defense that was 28th in the NFL last year and added the personnel that has transformed it into a top-five unit this season. Secondly, I think extending Gene brings some stability to the football side of the building during the transition of both a new head coach and new ownership. Gene has been in Jacksonville since the beginning and is very well-liked and respected. Finally, Gene has earned the right to finish what he has started and have a chance to put his guy in as the head coach. Gene inherited Jack Del Rio, and while there was never any open tension, they definitely approached things differently. I think to truly evaluate a G.M., you have to give him a chance to name at least one head coach. After everything shakes itself out, 11.29.11 will definitely be a day that stands out in Jaguars’ history.
- Tony Boselli
Tony Boselli was the first draft pick in Jacksonville Jaguars history and played for the team from 1995 until 2001. He is now an analyst for Dial Global’s coverage of the NFL, and will be Dial Global’s sideline reporter for the first game in the post-Jack Del Rio era, when the Jaguars host the San Diego Chargers on Monday Night Football. Coverage begins Monday at 8 PM Eastern.