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No easy fix for Jaguars, Mike Mularkey says

Posted Nov 5, 2012

Jaguars Coach Mike Mularkey on second half of 2012 season: "We'll find out a lot about ourselves"

Mike Mularkey didn’t expect this, or anything like it, really.

Mularkey, in his first season as the Jaguars’ head coach, said not only did he and the players not expect to be 1-7 at the season’s midway point – he fully gets that the fans didn’t expect it, either.

But Mularkey said this, too:

The season isn’t over, and the second half of the season doesn’t have to match the first.

“We will find out a lot about ourselves as coaches first, and as players, by how we respond,” Mularkey said Monday, a day after the Jaguars’ 31-14 loss to the Detroit Lions at EverBank Field Sunday. “Knowing people in that locker room, and knowing this staff, I have full belief we can turn this in a positive direction."

Mularkey said the key is approaching things “the right way.”

“There’s no easy fix,” he said.

The Jaguars, who Monday evening held a walkthrough practice to begin preparing for a home game against the Indianapolis Colts Thursday, have lost five consecutive games since a Week 3 victory over the Colts in Indianapolis.

“It’s pretty frustrating,” Jaguars guard Uche Nwaneri said. “It’s probably about as frustrating as you can get. I won’t lie. You just have to keep moving. You can’t let yourself become stagnant, because that’s when you become used to losing.

“We understand we are who we are, but we have to continue to try to win games and try to get ourselves some kind of momentum.”

The team had shown signs of improvement in losses at Oakland and Green Bay, but fell behind 21-0 in the first half Sunday, a game in which Mularkey said quarterback Blaine Gabbert took a step back in the first half before playing well in the second.

The Lions outgained the Jaguars 434-279 Sunday, and with the advantage being 285-57 in the first half, some fans and media on Sunday questioned the team’s effort.

Mularkey bristled at the notion Sunday.

“I’m sorry I responded like I did,” Mularkey said Monday, “but I don’t like questioning effort, because that’s very important to me. If there’s anything I stress as a coach and that we stress as a staff it’s players’ effort.”

Mularkey said while he didn’t question the effort, the intensity could have been better.

“I would say we were not as intense as we should have been,” Mularkey said, adding, “I could see that drop off. I know defensively we were on the field, and that’s hard to keep up. But I never saw a lack of effort or guys not trying to finish plays. I think intensity is the better word.”

Mularkey said he believes the Jaguars are capable of winning immediately.

“I think there is enough talent in the locker room,” he said. “I think there’s enough talent on the coaching staff. I just don’t think we’ve played to our talent. I’m the one who’s in charge of getting the most out of these guys and I have not done that. But I’ve seen it in person, just not very consistently.”

With the Jaguars having lost four home games by a total of 92 points, Mularkey said the team understands the frustration of fans, and as much as that, he said the team still needs fans’ support.

“We have not put complete games together at home,” Mularkey said. “I wish I had the answer to that, and I wish I knew somebody who had gone through what we had gone through. I’d call them. We’re disappointed. We’re frustrated as well, as coaches and players.

“They’ve got to hang with us, because we’re going to stay united together. This will turn. This has to turn in the right direction. We need their support and it will get better.”

Mularkey said the Jaguars now must approach the season as they would a game in which they were trailing.

“We have to dig down and find out what kind of people we are, and how we overcome adversity,’ Mularkey said. “How are we going to respond to this situation? Are we going to take a nose dive? I don’t think anybody in that locker room knows what that is. I know this coaching staff doesn’t. We have to respond. Somehow, some way, we have to find a way to make this go in the right direction.”

Also Monday, Mularkey said:

*Running back Maurice Jones-Drew (foot) will miss a third consecutive game Thursday, and is questionable for a road game the following week at Houston. Mularkey said he believes Jones-Drew will return this season. He also said safety Dwight Lowery (ankle) likely will miss Thursday’s game.

*The tackling issues that were a problem early in the season returned Sunday. Asked how many tackles the Jaguars missed Sunday, Mularkey said, “Enough.”

*Rookie wide receiver Justin Blackmon’s sideline awareness may be being hurt by a recent position switch. Blackmon, who moved from the outside to the slot the last two weeks, twice in the last two weeks has failed to get a second foot down on a reception, resulting in an incomplete pass.

*The lack of downfield passing early Sunday was a combination of Gabbert not seeing plays downfield and plays not being there. “All of the above,” Mularkey said. “A little bit of everything.” Gabbert completed 6 of 11 passes for 41 yards in the first half before finishing 27-of-38 passing for 220 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions.

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