JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Is this the week everything changes?
After national reports about dysfunction amongst the coaching staff and at least one unhappy player, and a visit from the team owner, the Jaguars face one of the worst teams in the NFL Sunday. Is this the week the Jaguars’ offense clicks? Is this the week the Jaguars look like a professional outfit? Is this the week — dare I say it? — that the Jaguars win a game after five straight losses?
If ever there was a week for the coaches to be focused, the players to be motivated and the setting to be conducive, this is it.
Jacksonville’s offense has scored just 64 points in the last seven games, including being shut out Sunday by the Titans in Nashville. But perhaps facing the worst-scoring defense in the league will lead to a change of fortunes.
“We tried tempo, we tried two-minute. We jumped into two-minute because the players asked for it. I mean, we’re trying,” said Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer. “It’s not being effective right now, but when you talk about trying and looking at different things, spending time on Monday and Tuesday night until late hours, just trying to put the puzzle together. Who’s healthy, who’s not healthy? We’re trying.”
As for who is healthy, running back James Robinson is improving, according to Meyer, who said Robinson told him it’s the best he’s felt since injuring his heel Oct. 31 in Seattle.
Getting the rookie quarterback going would also be a benefit. Trevor Lawrence has thrown just one touchdown in the last six games and he hasn’t had a multi-touchdown game since the season opener against the Texans when he threw three. Lawrence’s leadership has been outstanding for a rookie, but his production has been backsliding as the offense has struggled. It’s going to be up to the offensive leaders to change that.
“There’s a lot of people in this building and outside, like the fans, and staff, all those people, but why you really play is for the guy next to you. That’s why you play, that’s why you want to come to work, and that’s why I love coming to work every day,” Lawrence said. “You get to be with those guys and try to build something special. That doesn’t change if it’s not going well. That’s still the most important thing and I had a lot of talks today [about] that’s one thing I’m proud of is, like I said, how we’ve handled it.”
Wide receiver Marvin Jones is another veteran who has been singled out as a leader by Meyer. Last week’s report of Jones and Meyer getting into a heated argument happened —the intensity of the disagreement is in dispute, depending on whom you believe. Jones addressed the dust-up Wednesday in a brief comment.
“I’ll just say this: there was something that was brought to my attention that I didn’t like too well,” Jones said. “I approached him [Head Coach Urban Meyer] about it and we talked, and we handled it like grown men. That’s all I have to say about that. That was now two and a half weeks ago.”
While the offense has struggled, the defense has played admirably, despite being on the field far too long as a result of the offense failing to maintain possession. The veteran leaders on the defense seem to have kept the focus on their side of the ball and, so far, avoided any finger-pointing that can happen when one unit isn’t carrying their share of the load.
“Yeah, we’ve all got to make plays, we’re on the same team. But if we can control our jobs, if we can play better, then that can almost affect the offense or special teams. All we need is one play. So, if we can generate that one play to encourage our teammates to go out there and play harder the next play, then that’s what we’re doing on both sides. But I feel like as a defense, we played good, but we didn’t play great.”