Despite his team's 3-7 record, Jacksonville Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver is standing behind coach Tom Coughlin. But Weaver also isn't sticking his head in the Ponte Vedra Beach sand about the state of his franchise.
The Jaguars have gotten themselves into a salary cap nightmare, having to trim more than $30 million in the 2001 off-season and facing comparable cutbacks in 2002. Weaver is trying to take some blame for the mess, but it's Coughlin who handles the day-to-day football operations.
"Probably the biggest criticism that is fair is we have created a salary cap problem that has inhibited or restrained us from doing some things as we have had injuries to shore up this football team," Weaver said last week in an interview on the Jaguars' Web site. "It's no question that has hurt big-time."
Two years after playing in the AFC championship game with the conference's best record, Weaver said the Jaguars might have to dismantle their roster and start from scratch with younger players.
"We have to make some very difficult decisions," said Weaver, whose toughest choice will be deciding whether Mark Brunell remains his starting quarterback. "I've said from the beginning, we made a big bet on keeping this team together. ... [Rebuilding] is going to be painful for the fans and it's going to be painful for us."
Weaver might have interest in modeling his team like Pittsburgh, which rebuilt its roster through the draft after being gutted by free-agent departures. But for that to happen, the Jaguars must do a better job of college scouting.
Of the 30 players Jacksonville drafted between 1998 and 2000, only four are starters. Six of the 15 departed players were selected in the first four rounds, while 2000 first-round pick R. Jay Soward has been suspended for almost as many games (12) as he has played at wide receiver (13).