First things first:
This one hurt, as have a lot of the others this season, and there was little good about it.
The Jaguars on Thursday night lost a sixth consecutive game, losing to the Indianapolis Colts and their feel-good story and their rapidly improving rookie quarterback by a score of 27-10 in front of an announced 63,272 at EverBank Field.
Much will be made of the margin of victory, but the truth? That didn’t matter much.
It didn’t matter if the Jaguars lost by seven points or 20 points, and that’s true even though the margin of victory in home losses has been a constant topic in recent days.
For the record, the margin is 153-44 in five home games, so we’re not ducking that and we’re not overemphasizing it. The facts, as they say, are facts, and the fact is the Jaguars haven’t won any of their five games at EverBank Field this season.
Overtime, over by halftime . . .
When you’re not winning in the NFL, the difference in one or the other doesn’t matter.
That’s because in the NFL, you’re expected to win, whatever the circumstance, and because the Jaguars haven’t, it has been a dismal scene after most games this season. It had been dismal in the five games since the Jaguars’ last win – a come-from-behind victory over Indianapolis at Indianapolis a month and a half ago.
As expected, it was dismal again as Thursday night became Friday morning.
“It’s been going on for eight weeks – things not falling positively, consistently for our team,” Jaguars Head Coach Mularkey said. “Whatever reason that is – I wish I could explain it. We’ve missed a lot of things. We’ve had penalties at the worst of times . . .
“We recognize what we have to correct and we‘ve got to make it happen.”
Players agreed, and down the hall in the locker room, they echoed those sentiments.
“There are going to be snakes in the water and everybody has something to say and everyone has an opinion,” wide receiver Cecil Shorts said. “We can do nothing but go up from here. We are going to stick together and keep grinding and keep fighting hard.”
The Jaguars have talked often in recent weeks about staying the course, and improving in the little things. Linebacker
Elsewhere, the talk was of frustration, and sticking together. Defensive end
“No, we’ve just got to make the plays we’re supposed to make,” Mincey said. “There are a lot of weird things that are happening. We’ve just got to play better.”
Those were real quotes, and these are real people, and for all the criticism and the hue and cry over jobs that come when you’re 1-8 and not playing as you thought you would, these guys want to win. They believed before the season they would win.
They believe each week they will win, because they are professionals, and professionals believe they will win, and they believed they would win Thursday, too.
And there was every reason to think they would.
The Colts had to travel, and the road team in Thursday games often struggle. The Colts were playing on emotion, having shaved their heads in support of their head coach, Chuck Pagano, who is battling leukemia in Indianapolis. Playing on emotion can help, but a team can run out of emotion, too, so especially considering the Jaguars had beaten the Colts in October – and outplayed them pretty convincingly in the second half of the game – you figured that this was a game the Jaguars could get.
It didn’t happen that way, because that’s how this season has been.
The Colts won because they played as they have played in recent weeks, with an emotion and focus that’s carrying them through tough times, and they won because their rookie quarterback, Andrew Luck, is everything the hype has suggested.
We could go into the details, but at 1-8, the details don’t matter as much as the big picture, and the big picture is that this difficult season has gotten more difficult. Just a week ago, the Jaguars were coming off two road losses, and while they were losses, after Green Bay and Oakland there was a feeling of hope, a feeling of maybe.
You could make a strong argument that the Jaguars were close.
That argument will still be made. Coaches will make it and players will make it, and they’ll make it because coaches and players often see things that are hard to see, and that don’t show up in the score and that are real even when you’re losing.
“I think we have talent to win,” Mularkey said.
They will continue to play, prepare and fight as they have done all season, and because this is a locker room and a team of strong people who care, there is still a very good chance that the final games will have as many highs and lows.
It’s just that at 1-8 it’s hard to do that, and it’s just that 1-8 means there have been too many times this season like Thursday – too many losses that hurt, and that just can’t be construed as a good thing.