Since 2000, the Jaguars have had three winning seasons, the last coming ten years ago. So we have some experience with teams out of contention at the end of the year. Some give up, some just play out the string, others try to build for the future. The 2016 version of the Jaguars is different from any other. Talented, but without any results to show for it, they approach each game as if it’s own season. What’s weird is walking into the locker room after another loss and feeling like you’re in the movie Groundhog Day. Nothing seems to change.
“I think the one thing you can’t do is start to point fingers,” Blake Bortles said in his post-game press conference. “I believe that there’s nobody that would do that in our locker room and that’s why it’s such a special group of guys.”
He’s right about that. You’d have to be special and feel like you’re part of something that can be good to do this week in and week out.
“It’s hard because what we’re doing is not working, and it’s hard to believe in, kind of, I guess, our routine because there are no positive results,” Bortles explained. “There’s nothing you can do besides continuing to work.”
Nobody’s happy, but nobody has an answer either. They keep coming to work, doing the things they think will allow them to win, but they keep on losing. As if they’ve forgotten how to win.
“It’s tough anytime you lose,” Blake said. “I know for me personally, I can’t wait to play on Sunday the following week and get another opportunity and hopefully to try to erase some of this stuff that’s going on and maybe wake up from this nightmare.”
A common theme among the players is “do more.” Sometimes that leads to pressing, and that’s never the answer. But being as detailed as you can might make the difference.
“Yeah we’re doing good as a defense but we’re not doing enough,” Malik Jackson said in front of his locker. “I think we have to start nitpicking and really thinking about things as far as just looking at ourselves just more in the mirror.”
When asked for specifics, Head Coach Gus Bradley ticked some things off the top of his head that he saw from the sidelines.
“It’s special teams,” he said. “Field position, penalties, roughing the punter. The coverage teams haven’t been up to par.”
But just when you think one part of the team is coming together, like the defense, the Vikings score two touchdowns in the 4th quarter to come from behind and win the game.
“You have to make your own momentum,” Bradley explained. “You gotta play like you’re behind all the time.”
Could it be the defense just thinks it doesn’t matter what they do, the offense and special teams won’t do enough to win the game? It could be something close to that, but with every move on video, players don’t want a record of them loafing since they’re constantly auditioning for all 32 teams. Not just the Jaguars.
It’s almost as if they players realize that Gus’ attempt to give them the power of accountability didn’t work. They need a solid shot of discipline and focus. Attention to detail across the board. Bradley continues to talk as if this losing could pay off at some point. “This game teaches you so much,” he said. “I do believe this will bring us to greater places, but it’s just challenging. It’s tough man, I’m not gonna lie about that. It challenges your inner strength,”