That’s the thing about having your job hang by a loose thread…it eventually snaps.
Del Rio has been on and off the hot seat for years, but he would manage to cool it down by getting the Jaguars to mediocre marks, but he couldn’t overcome this year’s 3-8 start.
This was Del Rio’s ninth season with the Jaguars and he was the franchise’s second head coach. His job was thought to be in jeopardy this season when owner Wayne Weaver said it would be playoffs or bust for the former USC and NFL linebacker.
Turns out, it was bust.
The Jaguars, handicapped by a woeful offensive unit that ranks last in the league, failed to win several close matchups this season and, for all intents and purposes, are out of playoff contention. Many of the team’s struggles in close games can go back to Del Rio’s poor clock management. Most notably, the Jaguars botched late-game drives against the Carolina Panthers and Cincinnati Bengals this season and a lot of that had to do with inept clock management.
Del Rio’s tenure in Jacksonville has been marred by inconsistency and a lack of interpersonal skills. He logged a 69-73 record with the Jaguars, leading the team to the playoffs twice. The Jaguars went 1-2 in the post season and never won the AFC South under Del Rio.
As the AP’s Mark Long points out, Del Rio will largely be remembered for his inability to deal with both coaches and players.
“Del Rio refused to let offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter and linebackers coach Mark Duffner interview for lateral positions,” Long wrote. “He couldn't stop quarterbacks coach Mike Shula, whose contract ended, and receivers coach Todd Monken, who returned to a college job at Oklahoma State, from bolting.”
Del Rio will also be associated for several bizarre snafus handling quarterbacks. He announced rookie Byron Leftwich as the team’s starter in 2003 and benched veteran Mark Brunell without telling the team. He later would cut Leftwich right before the 2007 regular season in favor of David Garrard.
He did the same this year with Garrard and rookie Blaine Gabbert.
Del Rio, in perhaps his finest moment, brought in an ax and a wood stump for players to cut as a motivational ploy in 2003. Then punter Chris Hanson hacked his own leg with the ax.
Nearly a decade later, Del Rio finally got the ax as well.