It’s a turnover, an interception for a touchdown, a penalty that keeps a drive alive or a break that doesn’t go in their direction. Any one of those things can lead to defeat in the NFL. A combination of those every week has put the Jaguars at 2-10 with seven straight losses.
“It’s the biggest nightmare possible,” Quarterback Blake Bortles said in his post game remarks. “But what are you going to do about it? You can’t sit there in a corner and pout. You can’t blame people. You can’t feel sorry for yourself because I think all that’s going to do is affect the way I play.”
He’s right about all of that and the reason to put the latest loss behind you and move on, no matter how many in a row it is. Blake also gave some insight to how he has to approach each game, each practice, every day.
“You can’t press,” he explained “I think I was doing some of that early in the season and that didn’t go well. You’ve got to stay true to what we do and what we believe in and go through the process. All you can do is put your head down and continue to play as hard as you can and prepare each week.”
It would be easy to see the locker room fall apart at this point in the season, especially as the defense comes into their own and the offense, with Bortles at the controls, continues to struggle. But there was no hint of that in the Jaguars locker room and some veteran players say they won’t let that be an issue.
“We’re going to keep holding each other accountable,” Malik Jackson said, defiantly. “We’re not going to start the blame game so the blame should be pointed at ourselves. We, as individuals, have to find a way to put the team over the cusp.”
It’s the same for defensive tackle Sen’Derrick Marks who has had his ups and downs this year, but says professional players should only know one way.
“I go out and see how I’m going to beat the guy in front of me every single week,” he explained in front of his locker. “This is what I do and who I am going to come in every week and play ball. I don’t know any other way of thinking about it. If you’re a football player, you have to go out and play football. Win or lose each week, there’s a whole different team we have to prepare for.”
It was a very matter-of-fact Gus Bradley at the podium after meeting with his team. When asked if turnovers were the difference Bradley deadpanned, “Yes.”
But he remains committed and somewhat philosophical when it comes to the losing and how it might have a positive effect on players in the long run.
“And what I’m hoping is through all this pain we’re going through as far as adversity that we’re worthy of it come in the end. When that happens, I don’t know if it’s next week or two weeks, but I think this team is really trying to gain as much strength from this as they can for future times.”
There are plenty of calls for Bradley’s job and he’s been around long enough to hear it, but ignore it. To him, he has a job to do and he’s going to do it as well as he can until somebody tells him it’s over. It’s a laudable personality trait that has carried him through four tough years as the Jaguars Head Coach. Maybe the expectations were set too high, too soon for this team. Almost every personnel evaluator in the league says the Jaguars will be a winning team shortly. While Bradley might not be around to lead them, he remains a believer in the character of the 2016 Jaguars.
“I know the question was asked do you think they’ll come back next week? Well, I felt like they came back this week. Do you think they’ll come back next week? Yes I do. It’s who they are. They’ll work their tails off and they’ll come back and they’re going to learn from this and I truly believe these things that this team is going through will only benefit.”