JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- In news that got pushed down in the headlines, the Jaguars need a new head coach.
Owner Wayne Weaver announced today the firing of Jack Del Rio after 8-plus years of "very average" teams.
Weaver admitted the timing of that announcement was "awkward" since it was overshadowed by his sale of the team, but said waiting any longer wouldn't have been fair.
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"We deserve better," Weaver said of the team and the city. "We've been very average over the last few years."
He also said it would be "unfair to leave Jack (Del Rio) twisting in the wind."
Del Rio led the Jaguars to the playoffs twice, following the 2005 and 2007 seasons, and the team won one playoff game in his tenure.
Del Rio's record in Jacksonville was 68-71 in the regular season, 1-2 in the post-season.
Defensive coordinator Mel Tucker, whose defense ranks in the top 5 in the NFL, will take over as interim head coach for the final five games of the season.
Weaver was clear that Tucker is only an interim coach, though will have the opportunity to interview in an "extensive" search that will begin after the season for a full-time coach.
"This team is not far away from being a very competitive football team," Weaver insisted, as he admitted that injuries this year and several first round draft busts in recent years have set the franchise back "years."
Weaver also said rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert will be a very good team leader, but needs more weapons and time on the job to succeed.
Gabbert was drafted in the first round of the 2011 NFL draft, and was expected to develop behind David Garrard this season, but Garrard was released and Luke McCown was benched, thrusting Gabbert onto the field early in the season.
Tucker, speaking this afternoon, expressed his confidence in Gabbert as well.
"He's the guy," Tucker insisted, though he said he will continue to leave the offense to the offensive coaches.
"My expertise in in defense...I know good offense when I see it," was his response to questions about the offense.
He looked back only briefly. "Jack Del Rio has done a great deal for me...I wish him nothing but the very best."
Looking forward, Tucker said the job begins immediately as he decides what changes need to be made.
"We'll do everything we possibly can to get the job done...What can we do to put these guys in the best position to play winning football."
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