JAGUARS HEAD COACH JACK DEL RIO
Postgame Press Conference
January 7, 2006
JDR: Clearly a good football team, a championship football team over there. They got the best of us tonight. A couple of key areas where we fell short-- we were concerned about being able to wrap up and tackle some of their quicker skill people in space, and they have some talented tight ends. We struggled with that a little bit. We gave them some opportunities. The other thing I was worried about was us being able to make plays and catch the ball and do the sort of things that we needed to do in order to give ourselves the chance to hang around, and we didn't. Minus two in the turnover ratio is difficult to overcome any time, particularly on the road against an excellent football team. So we have to tip our hats to the Patriots, congratulate them on a good game. As a football team we feel like we have better football ahead of us. We feel like we're building something here that is going to be strong for many years and it just wasn't strong enough today against a very good team. A lot of guys fought through injuries and showed up and played with courage and played with effort and energy and it just wasn't enough today. I told our guys in there just now that I'm proud of the year we put together. I'm disappointed for all of them for the finish, because it was not a good way to finish. But it was a good football team. We tip our hats to them and move on.
Q: You were down 7-3 at the half, right in the game. What were your thoughts at halftime? You were right there.
JDR: We were right there and really pretty much where we've been all year. It felt like it was setting up the way we like. We came out in the second half and they were able to put a nice drive together, make some third downs and methodically move the ball down field and got a score. And then we had a drop right in front of me on third down that would have been a conversion. And then we got them into third and thirteen or fourteen yards and missed three tackles and they got a touchdown. And all of a sudden instead of us having an opportunity to keep it close, it got blown open right there. A series of plays like that in a close game against a championship team, if you have that series of plays go bad they can run away with it. That's what they did. They ran away with it right there. It wasn't a lack of effort or toughness or desire. I thought we had an excellent plan, and we just weren't quite good enough to get it done today.
Q: Did Byron [Leftwich] aggravate the ankle? Is that why you made the switch?
JDR: Late in the game like that, he was gutting it out pretty good, but I thought it was the right thing to do.
Q: Were you wearing down at that point? [Ben Watson's touchdown]
JDR: I don't think so. I think he just made a play there. He's a good player, a talented player. You've got to wrap him up. I thought Mike [Peterson] was one of the guys involved in it, and with his cast I don't know if that was a problem or not for him, probably. Not to make excuses, but he's battling through. I thought he played pretty good really. I didn't think we would get as much out of him tonight as we were able to. But I think that is a situation where we would like to have two healthy hands trying to get him down there.
Q: You had mentioned this past week that you were concerned about missed tackles. Were you clairvoyant? Did you see something?
JDR: No. I know that playing well in big games comes down to basic fundamentals of blocking and tackling and catching the ball and holding onto it. We were minus two in the turnover ratio. On the year we were a healthy, positive turnover ratio type of team and today we were negative two and that is tough to overcome. But the tackling thing, the fundamentals of playing the game, those are the issues that I was concerned about all week because those are the things that win games in January for you.
Q: In looking at the film of the Patriots, what did you see at the end of the season that you didn't see at the beginning?
JDR: I think they just kept playing, kept practicing, kept getting better. I think it appeared from a distance --I wasn't here-- it appeared that several of their leaders stepped forward and just basically let it be known that it wasn't going to be the way it was going-- that it was going to be better and they were going to pull together and get it done. You could just see it kind of galvanize. I think Tedy [Bruschi] coming back helped galvanize them defensively a little bit, even though he didn't play much tonight. I think they've got some proud veteran leadership over there and they're champions. They responded when their backs were kind of getting up against the wall earlier in the year and they've come back and put together a nice string here late and obviously they're playing good football now.
Q: Did you get away from the run for any reason? Did you come in wanting to throw it?
JDR: We came in wanting to throw it more. We thought there would be some opportunities attacking their secondary. I don't come out of the game feeling a whole lot different about that. I think their front seven is pretty solid. I thought we'd have some opportunities in the air and we did.
Q: Can you talk about Byron's performance?
JDR: Aside from the interception there late, I thought he played pretty well. He was pretty accurate. He did a good job directing the offense. We just didn't function well enough to score points. I didn't think the play of the quarterback was going to be the difference in this game, despite all of the attention it got. I really thought if we tackled well enough and blocked well enough and protected the football well enough and did those things fundamentally around whichever quarterback was playing, I thought we'd have a chance.
Q: What happened with the [technical] communication problems before the half?
JDR: I was a little frustrated by it. It seemed like for about --I don't know-- after the first or second series of the game, the remainder of the second quarter, we had problems with the coach-to-quarterback and system and my system was malfunctioning. I was frustrated by it. I asked the official several times if he would at least take away their ability to use it while we didn't have it, and he indicated that league rules don't allow that, don't mandate that. So I asked him to make a note in his game report so we can discuss it at the league meetings. It's clearly an advantage for the home team to be able to use their coach-to-quarterback system and have their head coach functioning with their coordinators and me not be able to do that.
Q: So it's not a rule that if a team's equipment is malfunctioning the other team can't use theirs?
JDR: Not yet. That was my understanding. I'm hopeful that the league will look into that and make amends. If that is in fact clarified and verified then I would think that the league would make an effort to fix that. We were at a disadvantage in the first half. I'm not going to stand here and tell you that's a reason we didn't do well; I'm just saying it was frustrating. That's why I was asking the official to come over and doing all of that, going back and forth with the officials in the first half.
Q: When did it get fixed?
JDR: When I came out in the second half. It wasn't a problem in the second half. Of course our worse football occurred in the second half. I should have probably wished they'd would have left that thing alone.
Q: After 17 games, grade the offense and what needs to improve to score in these types of games.
JDR: It clearly wasn't good enough tonight for us. I'll have a chance to reflect and kind of sum up the year. I think we can do that a little bit tomorrow maybe. We did some good things. We accomplished some things this year. We established some things. Anytime you win 12 games in the National Football League you've done some good things as a football team. So I know there are some things we can look back on that we'll like, and then there are areas that we'll need to strengthen. And it won't be long. We'll take a short break and get right back to it.
Q: Do you think you were ready for this level of competition without playing winning teams in the second half?
JDR: We don't have any say over the schedule. Certainly this is the best football team we've seen in a while.
Q: Do you think Bryon showed any rust?
JDR: I didn't really sense that at all. Other than that late interception on fourth down when we're trying to stay alive --in a hurry up, catch up mode-- other than that I thought he directed the offense pretty well.
Q: You've played everyone that's in the mix in the playoffs, at least in the AFC. How do you rate the Patriots' chances?
JDR: I think they have as good a chance as anybody. I thought that the disadvantage they have is that now they'll go on the road the rest of the way. I thought coming in that every team that was in this playoffs had a chance and I still think that the teams that are left all have a chance. [The Patriots] and the other four.