JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Jacksonville Jaguars coach Doug Marrone didn’t mince words about the state of his football team after a two-game losing streak in which they were outscored 70-21.
The Jaguars may have been a Super Bowl contender when the season began, but now they’re struggling with basic football fundamentals.
“We have to do a lot of things better,” Marrone said. “I’m more focused on what we have to get done in practice and do those things before we can even go the next step and get out there on the field Sunday.
“We have a lot of time between now and Sunday to correct a lot of bad football that we have been playing.”
The Jaguars (3-3) host streaking Houston (3-3) in a critical AFC South game at TIAA Bank Field. The Jaguars are coming off blowout losses to Kansas City and Dallas, with the supposed elite defense having given up 63 points, 49 first downs, and 802 yards in the two games.
The offense has been even worse. Quarterback Blake Bortles has committed six turnovers — five interceptions — and the offensive line has struggled because four starters are banged up and the fifth is the third-string left tackle. In addition, the team’s wide receivers are having a hard time getting open.
Also not helping is that the team’s best offensive player — running back Leonard Fournette — is out indefinitely with a right hamstring injury.
That’s why Marrone said the team is going back to stressing basic football fundamentals rather than worrying about injuries, scheme and playcalling. The Jaguars can’t just assume the defensive front will have success against a Texans offensive line that has given up the second-most sacks in the NFL (25).
“Well if you think of it like that, I think that’s a pretty good path to probably get your ass kicked,” Marrone said. “Fundamentally, we have gotten away from some things and that is on us as coaches. What I have challenged the coaches and I challenged myself with this week is, ‘Hey listen, we have to get back to fundamentals. We have to stick with something that we can sink our teeth in and this way we can go out there and just perform.’
“This may just be my philosophy that anytime you see football being played as poorly as we have been playing, then that is what it comes down to [fundamentals]. That is my philosophy. You guys may differ, but you have to do things well fundamentally. Usually when you do that, you have a chance to play better.”
Marrone is energized by the challenge of getting the team back on track. It means a lot of extra hours and work, but he’s been in this situation before and responded.
He believes it can turn a team’s season around.
“There is no magic pill or magic moment that you can just snap your fingers and go,” Marrone said. “The only way to start playing better is you have to work your ass off. You have to work hard. You have to go back there. You have to coach better. We have to play better. I have to do a better job. That is how simple it is.
“It is like that with anything in life, whether it is football, family or work or whatever it may be. You eat some s— and you go out there and you get your act in gear. You pull it up. I like it because it is challenging. What’s better than hitting adversity and coming back from it?
“It happens all the time. It happens to me my whole entire life. For me, I like it. I don’t want to be here, make no mistake about it, but the one thing you don’t have to worry about — the one question you are not going to get is are you comfortable? There is no way anyone in this building should be comfortable. We know that. We earned that right to be where we are. We are the ones that put us where we are.”