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Friday, January 15, 2010
Del Rio can quiet staff status talk

By Paul Kuharsky
ESPN.com

Jaguars tight ends coach to Bears offensive line coach is a lateral move that is a question-provoking one for Mike Tice.

But Dan Pompei puts a bit to rest with this report: Jacksonville granted Chicago permission to talk to Tice while it was still unclear what would become of coach Jack Del Rio. Tice wants to be closer to his kids in the Midwest.

Del Rio has never hesitated to change assistants but seemed headed for a stable offseason. Indications from inside have long been, however, that there were two tiers on the staff -- those who qualified as JDR’s inner circle and those who didn’t.

Had Tice been in the second group, this move would have been more understandable. But he was not. He was viewed as a confidant and I would have thought the Jaguars would have worked to keep him.

In either spot, Tice would have been working for a boss who will land on the hot seat if his team doesn’t make a dramatic improvement. Lovie Smith needs his team to make a big jump to remain secure.

Del Rio is now in the market for a tight ends coach.

And he has an opportunity to shape this shift to his benefit. Instead of letting us wonder if the replacement will fall inside or outside the inner circle, he’d be wise to work to grant the newcomer and the entire staff the status.