Yesterday, Alfie Crow at Big Cat Country floated the idea that Jack Del Rio, barring a disastrous 2011 campaign, could likely be back in 2012. Crow argued that Del Rio may benefit from playing a rookie quarterback at some point in 2011 and be the benefactor of a "free pass" for playing Gabbert. I like Del Rio as a coach, but there won't be anything resembling a free pass this year.
Since taking over the Jaguars in 2003, Jack Del Rio has a combined record of 65-63. The Jaguars are, for our purposes, a .500 team under Del Rio. I like the fire that he brings to the table. He takes risks that most coaches wouldn't take, and he's benefitted from those risks from time to time. For all the times the Jaguars have had things go their way under JDR, they've never been able to assemble a complete team. That's something that seems to get closer with every season under GM Gene Smith, and I think Del Rio deserves to get a chance to coach a complete roster, but that doesn't mean he'll actually have that opportunity.
Only Wayne Weaver knows what is expected of JDR in 2011. Maybe it will be a playoff birth that will save Del Rio's job, but that sort of talk is all speculation. We do know that Weaver sent a message when he said that the Jaguars would be in the playoffs in 2011, or heads would roll. Granted, he has since backed off somewhat from a playoffs or bust stance, but I think 9 seasons (at the end of 2011) should be more than enough time to determine whether Del Rio is the guy to lead the team going forward.
It's really early to start asserting that one guy is safe, and another guy is toast. Going into 2010, who thought the Vikings, Titans, and Cowboys would all be awful? Who thought that Wade Phillips and Brad "Chilly" Childress would be out of their jobs before the conclusion of the regular season? I don't see a scenario where the Jaguars aren't competitive in 2011.
So, I guess it's time that I make a Del Rio prediction. Here it is. If the Jaguars are in the playoff hunt, and they don't collapse late in the year, Del Rio will be the head coach of the Jaguars in 2012. If the Jaguars are either not in the playoff race, or drop the ball in December again, the Jaguars will be talking to potential head coaches in January and February of next year. I, for one, hope Del Rio is the coach for a long time, but it sure would be cool to get Coach Cowher out retirement. Just a thought.