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It's a seven-game season

Posted Nov 14, 2012

Mularkey: Focus on Jaguars more than opponent as team begins preparation for Sunday

Paul Poslusnzy said the reality is simple.

It’s that reality that Head Coach Mike Mularkey discussed Wednesday as the Jaguars gathered to begin preparing for the final seven games of what thus far has been a difficult season.

No, 1-8 is not what the Jaguars wanted.

And yes, the playoffs are all but eliminated as a possibility.

But that, Posluszny said on Wednesday, is the past. The Jaguars’ middle linebacker said the past can’t be controlled, and it can’t be changed, and he said that’s why Mularkey’s message resonated on Wednesday.

The first nine games are over. Now, what matters is the final seven.

“He wants us to stress these last seven games,” Polsuszny said Wednesday as the Jaguars (1-8) prepared to play the AFC South-leading Houston Texans (8-1) at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas, Sunday at 1 p.m.

“Bad record up until this point; we’re not where we want to be. But the important thing is that we’ve learned from those mistakes and the main focus is finishing strong.”

The Jaguars, who lost their sixth consecutive game, 27-10, to the Colts last Thursday, had Saturday and Sunday off. After a practice day Monday, they had Tuesday off before returning to practice on Wednesday.

“We’re back at it full-speed ahead,” Mularkey said. “It will be a challenge, but I think our guys are up to it. They’re resilient, mentally tough and I like the way they come in here to work every day.

“I think it’s a mentally tough team. I like the way they come to work, to get better and prepare to win. I’ve been on teams that I know when they don’t do that. It’s a credit to them. They know what we have in front of us. We’re all in it together.

“It really hasn’t changed. The same message has gone through since the start of the season.”

That was the approach Wednesday as the Jaguars gathered at EverBank to prepare for a team that many consider the favorite to represent the Super Bowl in the AFC. The Texans are a tough matchup for the Jaguars, and Houston won early in the season at EverBank Field, 27-7.

But Mularkey said while on most weeks he spends Wednesday talking to players about the opponents, he altered the message this week.

On Wednesday, he didn’t speak to the Jaguars about the Texans.

Rather, he spoke to them about the Jaguars.

“I typically go over the opponent pretty in depth and I went over the Jaguars in depth – what we’re going to face, what this team’s capable of doing,” Mularkey said. “I talked more about us than them, about how we have not put one together consistently.”

Mularkey said he put together a tape that showed sequence of about 80 plays on which the Jaguars’ offense, defense and special teams complemented each other, and how when that happened the team played well enough to win.

“It was more about what we need to do,” Mularkey said. “It was really not about the Texans. This week is about what we need to do.”

And while the Jaguars have yet to do that consistently enough to win often enough, Mularkey said he continues to believe the team is capable of winning.

“It just hasn’t happened,” Mularkey said. “We’re going to stick to our guns and it’s going to happen.”

Posluszny said the message was heard in the locker room, and that essentially it means the Jaguars see the weeks ahead as a seven-game season.

“Perfect way to look at it,” Posluszny said. “We want to compete until the end. We want to continue to improve, win games. Really, at this point, we’re playing for our jobs. Let’s be honest. Changes can be made because of what we’ve done up to this point.

“We’re trying to look at these last seven games and say, ‘We’ve got to put our best material on the field now.’’’

The Jaguars early this week talked about playing for pride, and quarterback Blaine Gabbert said that remains important.

“The season hasn’t gone the way we wanted it to, but at the end of the day, you’ve got to go out and prove yourself every day,” he said. “There are a lot of self-driven individuals in this building.”

Jaguars guard Uche Nwaneri said despite the record not being what players expected, focus remains strong. When asked about morale, he said, “Morale is work. Morale is working hard, chopping wood.”

“You can’t go back,” Nwaneri said. “You keep moving forward.”

Mularkey said with nearly two months remaining, that’s the only direction that makes sense.

“We don’t want to look back,” he said. “If we do, it’s just to learn from some of the things we did. I think we need to look forward and see how we can progress. We want to finish stronger than what we started. We want to come out on the positive side these last seven games.

“That’s all we have left. That’s all we’re going to focus on.”

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