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A little better


What happened was better, at least a little.

While the end result was a fourth consecutive loss, the Jaguars made enough gains Sunday in Green Bay that on Monday the pervasive talk was of positives and of building on what happened at historic Lambeau Field.

Still, while the defense played its best game of the season – and while quarterback Blaine Gabbert may have had the best game of his brief career – this is the NFL, and, well . . .

And well, a loss is a loss is a loss.

 "There are always positives," Jaguars defensive end Austen Lane said Monday, a day after the Jaguars held the Packers to 238 yards total offense in a 24-15 loss at Lambeau Field.

"At the same time, you can't put an asterisk next to the loss and say, 'Oh, we played really tough, so that's OK.' We still got beat. That's the bottom line. Obviously, we're not happy with ourselves. We saw a lot of good things and things we can improve on, but we got beat and no one in this locker room is satisfied."

Jaguars defensive end Andre Branch, who had his first career sack Sunday, was asked if there was a such thing as a good loss. "No," he replied.

"We know what we have to do to win," he said. "We just have to close the gap."

Jaguars Head Coach Mike Mularkey talked on Sunday about positives, and while on Monday he stopped short of calling Sunday's game a moral victory – "I'm going to let that one go," he said – he said again that there was progress made that can and will be built upon.

"The frustrating part was there were some positive things in that game," Mularkey said. "That doesn't account for wins. What we're looking for, as I said yesterday, is progress in some areas. That's what we want to continue to do.

"If we continue to progress in certain things we're doing and we know we're capable of doing, I think wins will come of it."

The Jaguars not only held the Packers to 20 first downs, they held them to two offensive touchdowns, sacking quarterback Aaron Rodgers twice and forcing a fumble that led to the Jaguars' lone touchdown. That was a 1-yard pass from Gabbert to offensive tackle Guy Whimper late in the first half.

"You're always going to learn from your mistakes," Jaguars safety Dawan Landry said. "That's going to happen throughout the season. Everything won't go our way. You can't get too high and you can't get too low. You have to try to mellow out yourself, learn from your mistakes and try to get better."

Gabbert completed 27 of 49 passes for 303 yards and a touchdown without an interception, with the yardage total a career high. He also had, by Mularkey's count, a season-high nine passes dropped.

Mularkey said the drops and other mistakes that continue to cost the Jaguars a chance to win are unacceptable, but said the progress of Gabbert is encouraging. Mularkey also said Gabbert, who played through a shoulder injury Sunday, felt fine Monday except for the "normal soreness of a game."

"Everybody is sore after games," Mularkey said.

Mularkey said in a sense the progress shown makes the costly errors more frustrating.

"We've shown it all year long," Mularkey said. "We showed it more consistently through all three phases Sunday through the whole game. The more they see it, the more encouraged they'll get about what we're capable of doing."

Offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski last week referred to the opportunities missed by the Jaguars as "layups," which Mularkey called "a great description."

"It's not three-pointers we're missing," Mularkey said. "It's layups."

Mularkey said despite the progress Gabbert has shown in recent weeks, the second-year quarterback still needs to trust his protection better. That has been a focus in recent weeks, and remains that way.

"We had a conversation this morning, again, about trusting a lot of things," Mularkey said. "We're spending a lot of time trying to make sure he's protected. Some of that is the process we're going through.

"Some of the things are carryover from the past. We just have to get some things out of his head and know we're trying to give him a chance to make some of those throws downfield, the layup throws."

But while there was focus on the need to improve specific areas, overall there was a better feeling around EverBank Monday than on many past Mondays this season – because while Sunday's game in Green Bay didn't bring the desired end result, it brought enough other things to provide hope.

"We don't like what's happening," Mularkey said. "But you've got to look at some of the positive things. We have done some good things. We have to overcome these plays that we continue to make every week, but it was better. I was very proud of them. I was disappointed for them, but they played hard and gave us a chance all the way to the end.

"That's all you can ask in any game. I was extremely proud of them."

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