Without question Jack Del Rio said things are tough.
Del Rio, in his ninth season as the Jaguars’ head coach, said while there’s no doubt the current five-game losing streak – the longest in his tenure – is difficult emotionally and whatever other way you can imagine, dwelling on the toughness is pointless.
His solution? Keep working, because there is no other way.
“You do what you have to do to continue to do the things you need to do,” Del Rio said Monday afternoon, a day after a late Jaguars rally fell short in a 17-13 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pa.
“I’m a human being. My deal right now is, ‘Continue to keep the faith and continue to keep working hard, doing the things that are the right things and do them for the right reasons.’ I will continue to do them.”
The Jaguars, after winning their regular-season opener, have lost their last five games despite an improved defense that ranks No. 8 in the NFL. The offense has struggled throughout the season, and after producing 209 total yards Sunday, remains ranked 32nd in the NFL.
The Jaguars on Sunday allowed the Steelers 315 yards in the first half and trailed 17-3 at halftime. They rallied in the second half, allowing just 55 yards and pulling to within four points with four minutes remaining.
Still, the result was a loss and two-and-a-half game deficit in the AFC South – and another week of Del Rio being asked about keeping the team’s morale high in difficult times.
“I’d say it’s pretty much the same (answer),” Del Rio said. “There’s only one way to do it. You have to stick together and you have to continue to do things you know are right – the preparation, the understanding of the tendencies of the opponent, the principal work that goes into it. There is a lot of volume to what you do to get yourself prepared for every ballgame.
“The things that we have been doing in that capacity, we’ve been doing very well. You don’t want to let go of that part. You want to hang tight and continue to believe and stick together. Those are the things we’re working on.”
Del Rio said he sees no morale problems with the Jaguars.
“It’s been a lot of fun to coach this group,” Del Rio said. “It continues to be a team that works hard and has great work ethic. (Former Jaguars Head Coach) Tom (Coughlin) taught them how to work. When I got here, they knew how to work and this team continues to work.
“It has a strong work ethic and has the entire time I’ve been here. We come to work and we’ll grind and we’ll prepare. We’ll do things that continue to be done to give yourself a chance.”
Also on Monday, Del Rio:
*Said rookie quarterback
*Said the coaching staff Monday discussed ways to get defensive end
*Said defensive end
*Discussed the decision to kick a field goal on 4th-and-6 with 4:17 remaining and trailing 17-10 rather than go for a first down. The Jaguars had the offense in the game ready to go for the first down, but Gabbert called timeout and Del Rio opted to kick a field goal. “We felt like the way the defense was playing right there, we’d be able to get a stop – take the points, get a stop, get the ball back,” Del Rio said. “We did. Unfortunately, we allowed Big Ben (Roethlisberger) to fall forward for a yard more (and a first down) than he needed to take a little more time off the clock than we’d like. We make calls all throughout the game. That’s one where you look back and certainly ask that question. When they go well, they don’t get asked. We did what we thought was right.”
*Said down and distance played into the decision to kick the field goal, too. The Jaguars faced 3rd-and-4 one play earlier, but a run by