The pressure surrounding Jack Del Rio was already palpable, but when the Jacksonville Jaguars selected former Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert, the temperature on the head coach’s hot seat went even higher.
Win or else is the mantra for Del Rio, and he realizes that it should be. He recently told the Florida Times-Union:
“That’s what I’m about; that’s what motivates me. I’m not motivated by the fear of hanging on to this job. … And that’s not to say I don’t appreciate and respect the position that I’m in. I’ve said it time and time again that I consider it an honor and a privilege to be in this position, but my motivation comes from pursing a championship. If you want to hang on for another year and continue to be at a certain level, that’s not what we’re after.”
Del Rio should already sense this mounting pressure outside of the team drafting a rookie quarterback instead of help in the secondary or along the defensive front. In eight seasons, Del Rio has a .508 winning percentage with one playoff win to his name. His teams have run the gamut from five wins (twice) to 12, but generally maintain a .500 record. In a loaded AFC South where the Indianapolis have reigned supreme, that just won’t cut it.
Yet pressure typically finds a release, so there’s a chance Gabbert starts early. After all, the person feeling the pressure transfers it to someone under them — namely from a head coach to a quarterback. That could be frustrating for a rookie like Gabbert being thrown into the lion’s den. The obvious best case scenario for Gabbert is a successful season for the Jags and Del Rio, allowing David Garrard to mentor Gabbert and an Aaron Rodgers-like succession to the throne.
Another year like last season’s 8-8 finish won’t stand in Jacksonville, so Gabbert should be prepared for an earlier start than what he might initially be told. The price paid by the Jags to move up in the draft started with a first and second round pick. In the end, it could cost them a head coach as well.