A TURNING POINT;Del Rio: Jaguars didn’t panic after rough stretch

Coach Jack Del Rio saw the positive signs in the

Jaguars’ darkest hour just two weeks



Jaguars stuck together after a pair

of 25-point losses to San Diego and Philadelphia and clawed their

way back into a four-way tie for the AFC South lead.

“When we were hit with adversity in those couple of big, tough

losses, I felt zero finger-pointing,” Del Rio said Monday.

He added, “It seemed like a very together group. Very committed,

staying the course. They continue to believe, keep the faith. Those

kinds of things allow you to persevere and come out of it.”


Jaguars beat Indianapolis and

Buffalo the last two Sundays.

“Here we are after Week 5, sitting there very much in contention

with a big division game coming up [Monday night against the

Tennessee Titans] and we’re looking forward to it,” Del Rio


This is a rare opportunity for the

Jaguars, who haven’t won a division

title since 1999, to contend for the division title because Peyton

Manning and the Colts have dominated the AFC South since it was

formed in 2002. The Colts have won the division title in every

season except 2002 and 2008, when the Titans won it.


Jaguars were 12-4 in 2005 and 11-5

in 2007, but had to settle for wild-card berths both years because

the Colts were 14-2 in 2005 and 13-3 in 2007.

The 3-2

Jaguars also need a victory to stay

above .500, which has been the trend for the

Jaguars in the Del Rio era. Del Rio

is 61-59 as a head coach.

Del Rio lauded the team’s work ethic, which he said was a

hallmark of the team since the Tom Coughlin days.

“This team has worked hard, I would venture to say, in its

entire existence. And most teams typically work hard, although some

are more committed and all in than others. This team has just got a

good feel to it. They’re a group of guys that bust their butt every

day,” he said.

Del Rio also said the victory over Buffalo was an “indicator of

some growth.”

He said, “It was a little bit of a test for us to respond coming

off a big divisional win at home here [against the Colts] and then

to go on the road [to play a team that] was desperate and very

hungry for a win, and then throw in some adversity early and being

able to overcome. I thought that was good for our team.”

He liked the fact that the team overcame a 10-point deficit.

“Just listen to what Maurice [Jones-Drew] says about that. This

is a new team, the 2010 version. I just believe that each year you

get a chance to redefine who you are, and we’ve really committed to

being better than that,” he said.

He said the

Jaguars also have raised


“Part of that is being consistent in our approach in everything

we do. This football team understands the things that are stake and

the work needs to be put in,” he said.


Jaguars aren’t surprised by their


“Part of the expectations are that we expect to win and we

expect to go on the road [and win]. We expect to follow a strong

performance against a divisional team with a win on the road. We

expected to. Even though it didn’t go the way we hoped it would, I

thought we continued to believe and continued to work,” he


He added, “Anybody that watched our game, there was no sense of

panic. It was a team that continued to go about its business and

kept coming, kept coming. We just feel like as a football team when

we continue to do that, good things will happen for us.”

Del Rio also predicted that the team will continue to improve,

including on the coaching side.

Del Rio said he usually doesn’t second-guess himself, but said

he shouldn’t have gambled on fourth-and-1 at the

Jaguars 45 in the third


“That probably went more to the gambling side there. That was

not a strong play by me. That’s a mistake. I should not do that,

but I did. The momentum they got there, I should have punted that

ball. I probably got a little overaggressive there,” Del Rio


The Bills took over and scored a touchdown to tie the game


Del Rio added, “That doesn’t mean I won’t do it again. That just

means I don’t like the way that one turned out.”

He said he had to make better educated guesses because, “You’d

like it to be something where you feel like the odds are in their

favor and that didn’t work out very well,” he said.

vito.stellino@jacksonville.com, (904) 359-4279