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Jack Del Rio Conference Call Transcript

Jack Del Rio: I think the guys are believing in what we are asking them to do and they are playing with great energy and great enthusiasm.



**Q: Billy Miller from the [Houston] Texans that he has never seen a defense play as hard yours did this past Sunday. He said it seems as if it was a complete transformation from the first time you guys met. What is your defense doing now as opposed to the first few games of the season?

JDR:** Well, it's not a matter of Xs and Os. I think the guys are believing in what we are asking them to do and they are playing with great energy and great enthusiasm.

**Q: How long did it take to try to infuse a team with that kind of mindset?

JDR:** Well, that's been goal number one from the day we got here. I'm not sure precisely when the transformation occurred, but certainly we are playing with a much greater sense of urgency right now than we were earlier in the year.

**Q: Do you look across and look at some of the Patriots and see a team that maybe is playing with the same kind of cutthroat intensity that you one-day want to have your team to play with all the time as well?

JDR:** I see a football team that is very fundamentally sound in everything they do, very talented, and right now probably the hottest team in the league. They represent a great challenge.

**Q: Your numbers have been great, in terms of defense, all year long. Is it just the turnovers that have prevented you guys from having a better record?

JDR:** I think turnovers have been a major concern and issue. Being –2 and climbing the last few weeks to get back to that level certainly gives you the opportunity to not have the success you are looking for. Yes, protecting the ball is probably the biggest thing.

**Q: Do you see similarities in this year's Jags team and last year's [Carolina] Panthers team? A team that maybe isn't rated this year, but then the next year takes the next step.

JDR:** We hope that's the case. I do believe that we are building something here and that it's positive. The commitment and the energy that the fellas are putting out has been very good, and that gives you an opportunity to have success.

**Q: How has Hugh Douglas been moving? I saw he was very slow at the start of the year. Is he hurt or is he just getting into the new system?

JDR:** Well, just a bunch of things. When he was winning his one-on-one matchup, we didn't have very good coverage. The last few weeks he has been more of a factor, and our coverage has been a little better and he has showed up. When he is winning, he is getting the opportunity to get the sack. I believe that coverage and rush go hand-in-hand and the better that our coverage gets, the better our rush is going to be.

**Q: How much did getting that win over Indianapolis, it was such a nice win, did that get things moving in a direction where you could see results in terms of wins rather than you had just played close? Did that change the atmosphere and direction at that point?

JDR:** Believe it or not, it probably happened a little before that. I think that was finally the reward of putting out good effort and doing some things well and finally being rewarded for that effort. I don't know if there is any one particular moment or game that you can say that was it.

**Q: What is the story with [Fred] Taylor? Has he been playing as well as he has the last couple of weeks all year long?

JDR:** Fred Taylor has done an outstanding job all year. Our offensive line has done a nice job opening holes for him and he has run hard all year. I think he has had a terrific year for us.

**Q: How difficult has this year been for you, making the adjustment to being a head coach? Have a lot things surprised you? You have been an assistant for awhile and you have been around some successful head coaches, but when you step in there and you are the guy, what has the adjustment been like? What are the big surprises?

JDR:** Well it's been an adjustment. I don't know if anything just totally caught me off guard. I was well prepared, I learned under a bunch of very good coaches and lean on some of them from time to time for advice and get something from their experiences. I think the biggest thing is just staying the course. Despite a rocky start, we've done a nice job of keeping our head down and continuing to grind through this thing. The guys are beginning to see some of the results of their hard work. And I'm hoping that we can finish strong here in the month of December and build for the future.

**Q: You've had some odd things happen this year, the heat in training camp, your punter hurting himself, Jimmy Smith being out the first couple of games. Was it tough for you to stay the course, did you ever think, 'Wow maybe I should change something'? Or were you pretty committed to the way you were doing it at the start. You thought, okay, let me ride out the storm?

JDR:** The storm analogy is a good one. I talked about the fact that I was going to hold on to the rudder and navigate this ship. I believe in what we were doing. I believe in the direction and the things that we are asking our men our to do and ask them to continue to believe and to continue to work. To their credit, they have.

**Q: What's the real strength to your defense right now?

JDR:** I don't know. I think the fact that we have 11 guys that are playing hard is probably the place to start.

**Q: Is any one area in particular better than it was earlier in the year?

JDR:** I think we have improved our pass coverage. We've been stopping the run, effectively all year. I think Kiwaukee Thomas returning from injury has helped in our sub position. When we moved Rahseen Mathis from safety to corner and put Deke Cooper at safety, those guys have give us a more physical presence in the secondary and I think that has benefited us.

**Q: The front guys have played well the whole way through?

JDR:** I think big Markus Stroud has had an excellent year. Big John Henderson as well. I do believe that it starts up front and certainly with our two big tackles, they have been solid all year.

**Q: Do you feel any sort of kinship with Bill Belichick given your both defensive backgrounds?

JDR:** I have a lot of respect for him. I know he does a nice job preparing his team. He's had success in the league. That's basically what I know. I don't have a special friendship with him or anything, but I respect what he does.

**Q: Can you talk about Byron [Leftwich], his evolution of being a high draft pick, moving in as a starter and what he has done? What have you liked about him, I guess more mentally than physically? Or just in general what stood out the most?

JDR:** Well two reasons we were so high on him coming out of the draft is that he is very intelligent and very tough. Guys that are smart and tough usually find a way to have success in this league. So I think that is a great place to start for any position, and certainly quarterback is a very important one. The other thing is that he has showed tremendous poise in dealing with the adversity, in dealing with lost time, not being here for most of camp. I am very pleased with the way that he has approached the game and studied and worked at some of the things that he needed to work on and will continue to work on.

**Q: What level do you think he is right now?

JDR:** I think he is a very good football player and he has a very bright future ahead of him.

**Q: What do you think of Mike Vrabel's performance in the recent weeks for the Patriots?

JDR:** He has played very well. I think the defense as a whole is playing excellent football. To go four weeks and not allow a touchdown at home is a tremendous accomplishment. He is doing an excellent job brining heat off the corner.

**Q: When you look at the Patriots defense what strikes you, as a defensive guy, as being the reason they have been so successful?

JDR:** They are sound in what they do. They are physical. And I just think they are getting after people playing defense.

**Q: Do they do a lot of things more than others? They seem to be jumping around a lot?

JDR:** There are certain things that they like to do. Bill [Belichick] has always had a new twist and a new little something for his opponent and we anticipate that they will continue to do that.

**Q: Do you think your defensive background as a player gives you any more cache with your players, particularly your defensive players? There are coaches that haven't played in this league that have been successful, like [Bill] Belichick, but you have been a player?

JDR:** I think that makes for a nice story, but the bottom line is when you are coaching guys, if you can help them be a better player on Sunday, then they are going to listen to you. The fact that I played certainly offers up insight. But in terms of preparing my guys, the fact that I played, that doesn't give you a whole lot of credibility beyond teaching them something that helps them play better football on Sunday. That is the most important thing you can do.

**Q: The incident with the axe with your punter, obviously you took some hits with that nationally in the media. How did you react to that and how important was that to get that behind you?

JDR:** Well like each of the incidents during the course of the year, I dealt with it head on and put it behind us as quickly as possibly and tried to concentrate on the future

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