<
>

Buy-in makes JDR coach of the year candidate

11/25/2009

For a young team that’s not loaded with talent and is at the start of a new regime, the buy-in is big.

If players aren’t invested and don’t believe in what the coach is telling them, it’s a difficult road. But sometimes that buy-in can overcome a lot.

In the Jaguars’ first year with general manager Gene Smith making personnel decisions, coach Jack Del Rio’s players have stayed on message. And that message increases in strength when it produces results. Three wins in a row and four out of five serve the messenger well.

Jacksonville hasn’t seemed to have any guys wandering this season, but if they were early on, they aren’t now.

“I feel like the buy-in has been good,” Del Rio told Jacksonville reporters. “I think when you string a couple wins together it helps any of those that maybe are holding something in reserve, and start to really understand maybe a little better. It kind of clears the picture a little bit for some of those people. But the energy and the commitment has been outstanding year-long, and we’re going to need that to continue as a football team. If we can stack some wins together, who knows what can happen? But right now we’ve got to find a way to beat these 49ers.”

With four consecutive losses, the shine is off of Denver's Josh McDaniels. Might Del Rio be at the top of the list of coach of the year candidates?

Jim Caldwell deserves strong consideration, but he inherited a good team, and voters typically look to upstart, surprise teams when casting votes for the honor.

I suspect Sean Payton would be the favorite right now, but I’d put Del Rio with Caldwell in the top five along with Brad Childress and Marvin Lewis at this point.

Del Rio currently stands at 79 percent in SportsNation's coach approval ratings, tied with Jeff Fisher behind Payton, Caldwell, Ken Whisenhunt, Tony Sparano, Childress, Jim Schwartz and Todd Haley.