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A time for perspective

Posted Oct 9, 2012

Jaguars coach Mike Mularkey's story to players provides perspective after 1-4 start

The message was heard, and the timing was right.

With the Jaguars 1-4 entering the 2012 bye week, Head Coach Mike Mularkey on Tuesday morning told players a story he discussed with the media on Monday – of how his 2004 Buffalo Bills team started with the same record before making a serious run at the playoffs.

The past doesn’t dictate the future, but as Jaguars cornerback Derek Cox saw it, the story provided perspective.

And for the Jaguars right now, perspective is a good thing.

“It hits home,” Cox said Tuesday as the Jaguars prepared for the first of two bye-week practices at the Florida Blue Health and Wellness Practice Fields adjacent to EverBank Field.

“When you see the hard facts of, ‘This is identical, and this is what can happen,’ that increases guys’ beliefs in the process and what we’re capable of.”

The Jaguars in five games this season have struggled at times offensively, and after a victory at Indianapolis in Week 3, they have lost back-to-back games at EverBank Field, losing to the Cincinnati Bengals 27-10 in Week 4 and the Chicago Bears this past Sunday, 41-3.

They also lost at home to Houston, 27-7, in Week 2, and through five games rank 30th in the NFL in total defense and 32nd in total offense.

The Bills, in Mularkey’s first season of 2004, not only started 1-4, they scored 20 points just once and three times were held to 10 or fewer points in that span. They scored at least 22 points in nine of their final 10 games, winning six consecutive games before losing the regular-season finale to finish 9-7 and miss the playoffs by a game.

Mularkey has been asked about the season by media, and he discussed it extensively Monday, but players said Tuesday hearing it from Mularkey reemphasized several points, particularly that the season is not over after five games.

“It’s a real-life example of the exact situation we’re in where they were able to turn things around in a positive way,” Jaguars middle linebacker Paul Posluszny said. “The fact that Coach Mularkey has been through it and he knows how to handle it, that’s nothing but positive for us.”

Players were off Monday, and with this week being the bye, the team will practice Tuesday and Wednesday. Under NFL rules, teams with a bye week must have four consecutive days off with two of those days being on a weekend. The team will return to practice Monday, then visit Oakland the following weekend.

Players on Tuesday spoke in much the same vein as Mularkey on Monday – that while 1-4 is not what the team wanted, the way to move in the right direction is to work together, improve weaknesses and follow the plan established in the offseason.

“I know that’s not the answer everybody wants to hear, but the difference between winning and losing and making a play and not is so small – it’s fitting a blocker six inches to the left instead of six inches to the right,” Posluszny said. “It’s taking a small step coming out of a break and making a clean break, and all of a sudden instead of a catch and tackle it’s an interception.

“Those are little things, but they make all the difference. Those little things have not been going our way early on.”

Said quarterback Blaine Gabbert, “We just have to keep fighting, and chipping off at the block, and things are going to turn around for us. If we approach things the right way, with the right mindset, things are going to get better.”

Running back Maurice Jones-Drew said there have been times this season things have gone more the Jaguars’ way, and not just the victory over Indianapolis. He and other players believe the team is closer to success than many believe, and pointed to Sunday’s loss to Chicago.

The Jaguars and Bears were tied 3-3 midway through the third quarter, and were still very much in the game when Bears kicker Robbie Gould connected with a 31-yard field goal.

Gabbert threw an interception on the ensuing drive, and after Charles Tillman returned it for a 36-yard touchdown, the Bears scored 28 more points to make what Jones-Drew said was a competitive game look more one-sided.

“The momentum didn’t go our way, and then it started sliding downhill,” Jones-Drew said. “That’s very frustrating. We have to understand that it’s not, ‘Not making plays.’ We didn’t make one play and it changed the game. We have to keep working and get better.

“We were in the red zone a bunch in the first half against one of the top defenses in the league. We moved the ball against them. We have to continue to do that and not get penalties and other stuff to stall us.”

Gabbert, as he did Sunday, said the key is correcting mistakes, and he said that very much included the two interceptions he threw, each of which were returned for 36-yard touchdowns.

“When you see a score like that from the outside, it looks awful,” Gabbert said. “It’s black and white. There were certain plays in that game that go our way and it’s a different outcome. Of course, I can’t throw two interceptions for touchdowns. That’s 14 points on the board, but there are certain plays in there – there’s a lot of hidden yards. We’re working on that and we’re going to correct it.”

Gabbert said as an individual he must have a mindset of not worrying about mistakes, and improving, and that essentially the team must approach the coming weeks the same way.

“We have to stick with the guys in this locker room, fit the mistakes we made,” Gabbert said. “We have a work week this week, the next two practices, and we have to get ready to go to Oakland. There are always teams that don’t start the year off, but it’s the way you finish, the way you respond to little things that shows the true character of a football team.

“We’re working hard. That’s not going to change. We’re still coming in here with the right mindset. We just have to see it translate on the field. We go out day in and day out, game in and game out, and try our best, but we have to perform.

“We have to start winning games. It doesn’t matter if you try hard. You have to try hard and win.”

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