Jacksonville Sports News, Sam Kouvaris - SamSportsline.com

Jaguars Decision-Making

On a team with Vince Lombardi and Tom Landry as the coordinators, you might think the head coach would operate in relative obscurity. But Jim Lee Howell was well respected as the Head Coach of the New York Giants, getting them into the NFL Championship game three times in his seven years as head coach.

In the 1990’s, when asked about the defensive prowess of his Gators football team, then Head Coach Steve Spurrier always said, “You’ll have to ask coach Stoops,” referring to Defensive Coordinator Bob Stoops. Current Gators Head Coach Will Muschamp did the same last week when asked about the offense, deferring to Charlie Weis as the offensive coordinator.

So when for a few weeks now Jaguars Head Coach Jack Del Rio has referenced Dirk Koetter, the offensive coordinator when asked offensive questions, I shouldn’t have been surprised. But I still don’t have to like it.

No matter what your specialty, the head coach is just that, as Del Rio has reminded us over the years, a coach of all phases of the game and generally the face and the voice of the franchise. Early in the 2011 season, Del Rio said he’d like to see the offense “mix it up a little bit” yet didn’t do anything about it while the game was going on. He admitted the plays go through him via his headset on the sideline, but he didn’t speak up.

After Sunday’s Jaguars loss to the Texans at home Del Rio gave us some insight as to how things work, or don’t work, in the Jaguars hierarchy.

Down by a touchdown, Luke McCown (who had replaced an ineffective Blaine Gabbert at quarterback) completed a third down pass for 25 yards to Marcedes Lewis brining up a 4th and two with just over a minute to play. With one timeout left, it seemed that would be the logical thing to use at that time. Get everybody together, call your best two-yard play and get the first down. But instead the Jaguars ran to the line of scrimmage and threw a quick slant to Mike Thomas that fell incomplete and the game was over.

More than a minute to play and the clock runs out with the Jaguars holding a timeout in their pocket.

“We had a play we liked and the coverage we expected, we just didn’t execute,” said McCown in a quiet Jaguars locker room. And that’s what you expect the quarterback to say. But when asked about it, Del Rio said, “I asked Dirk if we wanted a time out there and he said no, so we didn’t call it.”

So at the most crucial point of the game, the head coach relinquishes the decision making to one of his assistants? That’s why I was trying to give Jack an out when I asked him if he had made the decision to change quarterbacks in concert with Koetter. “No. I did,” Del Rio quickly answered. Which makes no sense at the most basic “Who’s in charge” level.

The head coach let’s the assistant decide if they’re calling a time out yet unilaterally changes quarterbacks? The head coach has to be the final arbiter of any kind of decision like that and even if he’s not he can’t sluff it off on one of his assistants. You’re on the sidelines; you have to have a feel for what’s going on in the game. There’s not a person in the stadium that wasn’t thinking, “Nice play. OK, call a time out here and get organized to get the first down.”

Maybe they were trying to catch Houston off-guard, maybe there are a thousand reasons not to call time out.

I just wanted to hear one.