Tag Archives: Jack Del Rio

Del Rio and Steve Bruce must wish they had the luck of Stoke City’s Tony Pulis

By Calvin Palmer

It has been quite a week on the sporting front both sides of the Atlantic.

Jacksonville Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver finally grew some balls and fired coach Jack Del Rio after Sunday’s humiliating and inept performance against the Houston Texans.

When the TV commentator, usually so forgiving like all TV commentators are, expressed surprise that a three-man Texans rush could get past the five-man Jaguars offensive line to sack rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert, it was pretty obvious we were witnessing something verging on the pathetic.

I doubt Gabbert will shed many tears over Del Rio’s departure. There is now every chance that his talent will one day flower rather than be crushed into obscurity.

It will be interesting to see if the players start playing to their full potential with interim coach Mel Tucker in charge on Monday night. Whether the game suffers a TV blackout hangs in the balance.

I wonder if tight-end Mercedes Lewis, for older English readers Marina Lewis would be a more appropriate name, will actually start catching the ball and help take the pressure off Gabbert. Lewis was a Pro Bowl tight-end last season. This season he has looked more like toilet bowl material. Still, he got a nice fat contract during the close season and has repaid the franchise in pretty much the same way former quarterback David Garrard did after he received his improved contract.

Weaver did not stop at firing coach Del Rio. He also announced he was selling the franchise to Illinois businessman Shahid Khan who nearly bought the St Louis Rams in 2010.

Quite what the First Baptist Church bigots and Jacksonville’s white supremacists will make of Shahid Khan owning the city’s NFL franchise is anyone’s guess. I can envisage a burning cross on the halfway line at EverBank Stadium.

Already, racist comments have appeared along with the view that an American sport should be owned by Americans; so much for Shahid Khan’s U.S. citizenship. Those comments only serve to show the racist underbelly that sadly still exists in Jacksonville and northeast Florida.

It is probably just as well that the Jaguars did not draft Tim Tebow, given the turn of events this week. Tebow would probably have spent all his time trying to convert Khan rather than converting drives into touchdowns.

Across the Atlantic, second tier Crystal Palace took on Premier League Manchester United and succeeded in knocking them out of the Carling Cup and at Old Trafford. A friend from my university days who is a staunch Palace supporter will be delighted.

Stoke City also secured their place in the last 32 teams of the Europa League on Thursday with a lacklustre performance at home to Dynamo Kiev. Kiev should have had the game sewn up at half-time but squandered two chances that would have put the game beyond Stoke’s reach.

It took a pinpoint cross from winger Jermaine Pennant and a powerful header from Kenwyne Jones to give Stoke a goal they never really looked like scoring throughout the entire game. Stoke’s performance was not much different than that of the Jaguars against the Texans. Del Rio must wish that he had the luck of Stoke City coach Tony Pulis.

The same goes for Sunderland coach Steve Bruce who was sacked on the same day Del Rio was fired.

Writing in The Guardian, Louise Taylor stated:

“Arguably one of the principal reasons Bruce is no longer in charge at the Stadium of Light concerns his apparent inability to tweak formations or tactics during matches. Whenever a rival manager re-configured his system mid-game, Bruce invariably failed to come up with a countermeasure.

“In recent months Alan Pardew, Mark Hughes, Roy Hodgson and, most recently, Roberto Martínez have all seemingly out-thought him as Sunderland dropped points against supposedly weaker sides they really should have beaten.”

Tony Pulis has similarly been out-thought by managers of clubs Stoke were expected to beat and yet he remains in charge with his square pegs in round holes team selections that sees Stoke taking the field in most games without recognized full-backs, a geriatric midfield player and no creativity whatsoever, hence the lack of goal chances let alone goals.

The one bright spot in Thursday’s game against Dynamo Kiev was the performance of Wilson Palacios, playing his first full game since his summer transfer from Tottenham Hotspur. I stand to be corrected but as far as I could see, I don’t think one pass from Palacios went astray and they were all played to a teammate’s feet.

If that basic footballing skill could be passed on to the rest of the team, my fears regarding Stoke City’s future in the Premier League would evaporate.

Tomorrow, Stoke take on Everton at Goodison Park and I am sure it will see another poor away performance that ends in defeat. I hope I am wrong.

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Del Rio’s quarterback gamble makes Jaguars a laughing stock

By Calvin Palmer

Ask any sports fan anywhere in the world why a 30-year-old NFL quarterback has only made eight starts in their career and the answer is more than likely to be because he is not good enough.

Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Luke McCown made the ninth start of his seven-year career on Sunday At the MetLife Stadium against the New York Jets and proved why he has made so few starts. He was unbelievably bad.

McCown made 6 completions from 19 attempts for a total of 59 yards. Yes, 59 yards! He threw no touchdown passes but did manage to chalk up 4 interceptions. His rating was an abysmal 1.8. Needless to say the Jaguars went down to a humiliating 32-3 defeat.

Rex Ryan informed the Jets players in the locker room that McCown’s rating was the lowest ever achieved by an opposing quarterback in the Jets’ 51-year history. That fact was delivered with a huge grin by the triumphant Ryan.

I wonder if Jaguars coach was laughing. On September 6, just five days before the start of the NFL season, he cut regular quarterback David Garrard and announced Luke McCown would be the starting quarterback for the Jaguars.

I have no argument over the decision to cut Garrard, the Jaguars have saved $9 million, but I disliked the manner in which it was announced – a couple of hours after Garrard attended a luncheon thrown in honour of the Jaguars by the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce.

Now the Jaguars face having to throw rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert in at the deep end. I guess that would prove whether Gabbert’s potential is for real.

Sunday’s game did reveal a new position in NFL football and one that is exclusive to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Rashean Mathis in conventional terms is regarded as a corner back. But Mathis rarely makes a tackle preferring to use guile and cunning instead to allow the wide receiver he is marking to cross into the end zone unhindered for a touchdown. I am convinced every quarterback in the NFL has been instructed to throw to whoever is being marked by Mathis in the knowledge that nine times out of 10 the result will be either a 15 yard penalty or a touchdown.

Against the New York Jets, I noticed on several occasions that Mathis would arrive  just as a colleague had made a tackle on a Jets player.  Mathis would then tap his colleague on the shoulder. It then came to me in a flash. Mathis is not a corner back but a tackle supervisor, there to see that his colleagues tackle correctly and in a timely manner. I wonder if the position will catch on with other NFL teams?

Clearly, a lot is wrong with the Jaguars organization if it continues to keep Mathis on the playing roster. The only reason I can think of, aside from Mathis having the pictures of Del Rio and the rubber duck, is that there is no other corner back. I suppose that is par for the course since the team doesn’t really have a quarterback.

Could this disorganization and prospect of a meltdown season have something to do with the Jaguars moving to Los Angeles?

Owner Wayne Weaver can salve his conscience by saying the fans have not supported the team sufficiently enough during this season. Given the lack of support and the present  financial climate, he reluctantly was forced to sell. Of course, that conveniently overlooks the fact that the fans have not been given a winning team for several years.

The only glimmer of success came four years ago when the Jaguars reached the play-offs, beat the Pittsburgh Steelers before bowing out to Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. Since then it is has been mediocrity and failure. What better way is there to kill the enthusiasm of fans? People like to see their team winning and preferably winning well.

When the Detroit Lions can go 2-0, with 27-20 and 48-3 victories, surely it cannot be all that hard to achieve.

Over to you Jack.

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Del Rio walks fine line between genius and insanity by cutting Garrard

By Calvin Palmer

Five days before the start of a new NFL season, the Jacksonville Jaguars decided to cut quarterback David Garrard, leaving deputy Luke McCown to step up as the starting quarterback.

In footballing terms, the move by the Jaguars is like Arsenal deciding to sell Cesc Fàbregas.

Oops! They have done.

Okay, it would be like Stoke City getting rid of Rory Delap and his famous long throw-ins.

Actually, that wouldn’t be a bad idea. Delap at 35 is getting past his sell-by date as a Premier League footballer and his long throws no longer have the potency they once had. Premier League defences have wised up to the ploy.

I guess the timing of the news of Garrard’s departure is what is surprising. And there is also a degree of nemesis.

Former Jaguars quarterback Byron Leftwich was cut a week before the 2007 season and replaced by back-up quarterback David Garrard.

What goes around comes around.

Garrard’s departure has incensed former Jaguars defensive end and ESPN NFL analyst Hugh Douglas.

Douglas was asked in a radio interview if there was one NFL coach he’d like to fight and without pause answered Jack Del Rio.

Douglas said: “If there was ever a coach who needs to be punched in the face for not being truthful to his players, it has to be Jack Del Rio.”

Douglas would need to get to the back of the line. A great many Jaguars fans would also like to punch Del Rio in the face.

Del Rio’s perpetual smug expression on his face just invites it to be hit.

I wonder if fans in Jacksonville are organizing a whip round in order that Douglas can go to the front of the line.

Garrard has reportedly got two offers of a contract with other NFL teams, according to his agent. Who is sworn to secrecy. Well, at least until he figures a way of making a quick buck or two thousand.

NFL pundits are suggesting that the San Francisco 49ers and Miami Dolphins may offer Garrard a new home. I guess that goes to show just how desperate some NFL teams are.

Jacksonville Jaguars are, make no mistake. Still looking on the bright side, if the Jaguars fail to make the play-offs, Del Rio will be out of a job.

William Hill has the Jacksonville Jaguars at 100/1 to win the Superbowl and 9/1 to win the AFC South Division.

See ya, Jack!

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Time to end the embarrassment of Rashean Mathis

By Calvin Palmer

In these days of ever higher standards in professional sport and increasing competition for places, it is rare that someone totally inept is allowed on the field of play to not only embarrass themselves but also supporters of the team they play for.

But there is always an exception and, sadly for fans of the Jacksonville Jaguars, the exception is cornerback Rashean Mathis.

The Jaguars have now played nine games. The only positive contribution Mathis has made all season came against the Dallas Cowboys when he managed to intercept a throw from John Kitna. In other games, Mathis has made an art form out of not picking up his man and not tackling. The latter is probably due to the fact that he must be the only player in the NFL who is incapable of tackling.

The Mathis way of trying to stop a player is a womanly push in the back, which may well work against a slightly built girl but against a six foot plus 190 pound wide receiver going at full steam… well the effect of a Mathis “tackle” is pretty obvious.

His other ploy is to arrive on the scene just as someone else makes the tackle he should have made. I have to admit that I somewhat surprised that his teammates haven’t taken him to one side in the locker room and talked/beaten some sense into him.

Against the Texans, Mathis also managed his regular trick of pass interference, with the resulting 15-yard penalty. But he even out-did the Mathis of the previous eight games when he proceeded to move away from the wide receiver he was marking as the ball was thrown, leaving Andre Johnson completely unmarked in the end zone to secure a touchdown.

My background is football, or soccer as the Americans call it, and the action of Mathis was akin to a central defender marking Wayne Rooney on a corner-kick, to suddenly run away from Rooney leaving him completely unmarked in the six-yard area with only the goalkeeper to beat. Any central defender pulling a move like that could expect never to play for the club again.

And here is the puzzling thing. Jack Del Rio knows Mathis is not up to standard but insists on playing him. Talk about shooting yourself in the foot.

When Mathis’contract with Jaguars expires at the end of this season, he will be fortunate if any other NFL franchise snaps him up. He stands a better chance of pursuing a career as a female impersonator. He certainly walks like a woman but whether he wears a bra is probably just ugly gossip.

The Florida Times-Union saw fit not criticize Mathis’ performance against the Texans, the nearest it came was in the Report Card feature. Under Pass Defense, the Jaguars were rated at D-, with the following comment:

“It’s a good thing the Jaguars didn’t give in on cornerback Rashean Mathis’ offseason wish for a contract extension. He was taken to school by Andre Johnson (9 catches, 146 yards).”

The real criticism of Mathis came from the fans in the Monday Morning Quarterback column:

“My aunt will be in town next week. Tell Mathis to leave his uniform at the door… she’ll take his place and do a better job.”

“Number 27 (Mathis) is an embarrassment dancing around the field. Why don’t the coaches recognize that?”

“I am ashamed with the lack of effort by Rashean Mathis. He must be benched or released.”

“Rashean Mathis is the worst cover man I have ever seen. He doesn’t hit, he seems to wait for someone else to make the play.”

“Can’t wait to read Rashean Mathis’ book – “How To Play A Whole Season In The NFL Without Getting Your Uniform Dirty”.

In 2006, Mathis made the Pro Bowl and he seems he has been living off that ever since. In any sport, a player is only as good as his next game. Mathis is never going to have a good next game. It is time for coach Del Rio to ensure Mathis has played his last game for the Jaguars.

This embarrassment can no longer continue.

[Based on content in The Florida Times-Union.]        

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Victory against the Colts wins Del Rio a reprieve

By Calvin Palmer

A week ago I called for the resignation of the Jacksonville Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio should the Jaguars lose to the Indianapolis Colts.

In one of the greatest comebacks since Lazarus, the Jaguars yesterday secured a memorable 31-28 victory thanks to Josh Scobee’s 59-yard field goal in the dying seconds of the game.

The Jaguars were unrecognizable from the team that was humiliated last week by the Philadelphia Eagles.

How much of that transformation is down to Del Rio is hard to say but the win has secured him a reprieve but he is no means off the hook.

Defeating the Colts has given the Jaguars a much needed boost but the big test comes next Sunday in Buffalo.

The Jaguars have something of a reputation of raising their game against the big boys in the NFL, the Colts are the defending AFC Champions, and then becoming ludicrously charitable to struggling teams. The Bills are winless this season after four games.

At the post-game news conference after yesterday’s 38-14 defeat by the New York Jets, Bills coach Chan Gailey said: “We were a bad football team today. When we protected, we couldn’t catch it. We couldn’t protect.

“We had people going into the wrong spots, getting to the wrong people.

“We couldn’t get off the field on third down. We couldn’t convert a third down.

“We were not good on special teams.

“We turned the ball over twice. We didn’t get any turnovers.

“We got sacked three times. We didn’t get any sacks.

“If you play that way, you’re not going to win. You’re not even going to look decent in this league.”

When asked if the Bills are the worst team in the NFL, Gailey was unable to say that they were not.

So it would appear the Bills are a prime candidate for the largesse of the Jaguars, if the Jaguars live up to their reputation of old.

One man can change that perception – Del Rio.  

Yesterday’s win against the Colts has raised the bar on the expectations of the Jaguars fans. They tasted the euphoria of victory and like it. A defeat at the hands of the winless Bills would be a bigger embarrassment than the one the Jaguars fans endured against the Eagles. For Del Rio and the Jaguars players defeat against the Bills is not an option.

A lot of pundits claim Jacksonville is not an NFL city. Those pundits should have been at EverBank Field yesterday. The noise the fans generated during the game was at times deafening. If you don’t believe me just ask Peyton Manning.

But it was what came after the game had finished that really impressed me. In all the NFL games I have attended since moving to America, Dallas Cowboys games before moving to Jacksonville, I have never before witnessed such passion and emotion by a crowd.

Walking down the ramps to leave the stadium, the fans were in full cry, chanting “We are – Jaguars!” It was an incredible atmosphere and reminded me of English soccer supporters. Few sports fans in the world match their level of passion.

I should imagine a lot of people in Jacksonville went to work this morning with a big smile on their faces and a spring in their step.

The Jaguars fans are hungry for success. They are playing their part in the team’s revival but Del Rio is the orchestrator of their hopes and dreams. It is up to him, and the team, to deliver.

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Resignation by Del Rio the decent thing to do if Jaguars fail against the Colts

By Calvin Palmer

A defeat in football is one thing. A humiliating rout is quite another.

Defeat, when a team has given all it has to give but has been bested by the opponents, is part and parcel of sport. There are always winners and losers.

A humiliating rout, when a team fails to perform in any department and is an embarrassment to its fans, is symptomatic of a greater malaise and a remedy needs to be sought and quickly.

The Jacksonville Jaguars yesterday suffered a rout, losing 28-3 to the Philadelphia Eagles in what must have been one of the most inept performances since last October’s 41-0 defeat by the Seattle Seahawks.

But yesterday’s performance followed on from another West Coast debacle last week when the Jaguars went down 38-13 to the San Diego Chargers.

These two defeats, particularly their nature, do not sit well with Jaguars fans. Blog sites are awash with comments calling for the head of coach Jack Del Rio on a platter.

When things go as badly as they have done for the Jaguars in the past two games, it is clear the problems extend far beyond the playing field. Sure, quarterback David Garrard has been singled out for his torrid and pathetic performance yesterday. But Garrard cannot be blamed for the non-existent secondary defense.

Given yesterday’s failure in all departments, the finger of blame has to point at coach Del Rio. He could argue that the fault lies with the defensive coordinator or the offensive coordinator. Del Rio may even blame President Barack Obama, given that Jack is a big supporter of Sarah Palin.

The simple truth is, the buck stops with Del Rio. He is neither a manager of men nor motivator. If he were either, the second half performances these past two weeks would have seen some improvement on the first half. There was no such improvement, which suggests that he has lost the support of the locker room. If that is indeed the case then his days are clearly numbered.

This season the City of Jacksonville has pulled out all the stops to back the Jaguars to the hilt. The fans, not renowned for passion and blind loyalty, have responded and what have they gotten in return? Nothing! Absolutely nothing!

Will any fans turn up for the next game against Peyton Manning and the Indianopolis Colts? They might to just to see history in the making – an NFL side, the Colts, winning by a margin of 100-0!

Del Rio has six days in which to galvanize the Jaguars into becoming a competitive NFL side.

If he fails and the Jaguars lose again in another poor performance, I would hope that he would do the honorable thing and tender his resignation.

Such a move would bring wins all round.

Owner Wayne Weaver would not have to buy out the remainder of Del Rio’s contract and could use that money to securing his replacement. Del Rio’s standing with the fans, which is at an all time low, would rise considerably, as many fans would view him as being an honorable man, falling on his sword for the good of the franchise. And the fans on whom the club relies for its very existence, would have their enthusiasm rekindled and be able to view the remainder of the season with a degree of optimism.

So go on Jack, if you fail again next Sunday, be a man of honor. Tender your resignation and depart with the good wishes of the Jaguars fans.

The writing is clearly on the wall that you will be fired at the end of the season. Why drag the Jaguars further into the mire and in doing so become a despised and reviled man?

It would be better for all concerned if you were to go of your own volition.

Jacksonville is crying out for a team it can be proud of. The plain fact of the matter is that you are unable to deliver it. So stand aside and let someone take charge who can.

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Jaguars emerge as Jacksonville Pussies

By Calvin Palmer

In a rare moment in NFL history, the Jacksonville Jaguars became the first team to change its name during the half-time interval at Seattle.

Trailing 20-0 after one of the most inept first-half displays ever witnessed in the NFL, Jacksonville emerged for the second half bearing the name Jacksonville Pussies.

If the cap fits, wear it. And that cap certainly fits Rashean Mathis. Is there any other player on a NFL roster who tackles like a girl? He seems to think a gentle tap on the back of an opposing player with the palms of his hands will stop them in their tracks. Wrong!

What this big girl’s blouse is doing playing pro football escapes me.  I would be reluctant to have him serving on a stadium hot dog concession stand. I doubt he would have the strength to split open a bun.

Quite what Jack Del Rio will say at half-time is anyone’s guess but he did not seem particularly concerned as he left the field.

It would now appear Jacksonville sports two jokes – The Florida Times-Union newspaper and now its football team.

Having suffered further humiliation is the second half, it would be appropriate if every player of the Jacksonville Pussies who took the field at Seattle donated their weekly wage to a charity of their choice. They certainly did not earn this money this afternoon.

Inquiries about the kick-off time of next week’s game against the St Louis Rams are likely to be met with, “What time can you get here?”

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