Del Rio defends final, failed sequence at Browns
Coach Jack Del Rio broke down Jacksonville's final, failed sequence at Cleveland and found plenty to fault.
He refused to blame play-calling, though.
Del Rio said Monday he had no problem with offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter calling a pass on a third-and-goal play from the 1-yard line with 3 seconds remaining at Cleveland. Many believe the Jaguars should have put the ball in the hands of their best offensive playmaker, running back Maurice Jones-Drew, with the game on the line.
Instead, Koetter had oft-errant rookie Blaine Gabbert drop back and throw. Gabbert's pass sailed behind Mike Thomas, leaving the Jaguars (3-7) with a 14-10 loss than likely knocked them out of playoff contention.
''I liked our play,'' Del Rio said Monday. ''I think everybody would have liked our play had we scored, and I think anytime you don't make it happen, then that's a natural question, and I certainly understand.''
Del Rio had to answer similar questions following a loss at Carolina in September. Gabbert and Del Rio failed to recognize that the clock started following a replay and allowed several seconds to tick away and ended up with just one final snap.
What happened Sunday was even more inexcusable.
Facing a third-and-1 play at the 5-yard line with 41 seconds left, Jones-Drew ran for three yards. Instead of calling timeout or spiking the ball on first down, the Jaguars were slow to get lined up and let 28 seconds elapse before going with another running play to Jones-Drew.
''I would have liked to have seen the execution of that play go off quicker, which would have allowed us three passes into the end zone,'' Del Rio said. ''I thought we executed well. The one thing, if I could do it again, I'd like that play to be pulled off a little quicker so that we would get a fourth down there.
''In the end, we had two really, really good looks at the end zone - well-designed plays that gave us a chance.''
After Jones-Drew was stopped just short of the goal line, the Jaguars called their final timeout with 8 seconds remaining. That left Jacksonville with two plays.
Jason Hill failed to catch a pass in the corner of the end zone on the first play and Gabbert misfired on the next down.
''We did everything we needed to do to put ourselves in position to win,'' Thomas said. ''We just came up a little short. ... He just missed me a little bit behind me. I'd never throw Blaine under the bus. We both could have done things better on that play. That's just part of us not executing the play.''
Added Jones-Drew: ''The ball just didn't go our way. That's what's been happening to us this year. Somehow, someway, we're going to have to learn from our mistakes.''
Del Rio said Thomas needed to run a better route on the final play.
''Mike's got to define that right there for Blaine, either pivot away or continue crossing,'' Del Rio said. ''We needed a more defined route and a better throw, and we didn't get that and so we didn't connect on the play. We got what we expected. On both plays we got what we expected. ...
''I'd feel good about having that same sequence come up and do it like we did it. We gave ourselves a chance. We just didn't quite come home with a smile on our face because we didn't make that play.''
Del Rio also clarified a comment he made after the game. Following the loss, Del Rio said Koetter ''calls the plays'' and added that he couldn't ''speak to his thinking.''
His quote was interpreted as a veiled shot at Koetter. But Del Rio made it clear he never intended to question the play-calling.
''That was never an issue,'' Del Rio said. ''I just said if you want to get into specifics, you know I let my guys call the game, talk to them. I think that kind of got played up a little more than it deserved. I was being honest.''