In the postgame locker room in Indianapolis, Jaguars coach Tom Coughlin told his players they would have to be strongly united in their common goal, because a lot of finger-pointing would result from their 43-14 loss to the Colts on Monday Night Football. Coughlin's words would prove to be prophetic, though the coach may not have thought his players' fingers would point at him.
That's where we are following the Jaguars' week-five loss to the Steelers. If pointing is, in fact, a rude gesture, then Jacksonville may be the rudest town in America this week.
In the players' quest of a theory as to why they are losing, they advanced the notion their coach is so demanding of them that they fear his wrath more than defeat. On Monday, Gary Walker emerged on crutches from the players' lounge, to a locker room that was full of reporters but void of players. Immediately, the assembled media descended on Walker, as he had to know they would.
The defensive tackle, in a gesture of team leadership, then presented his and his teammates' case that the team was playing tight, as though it was afraid of making mistakes. With those remarks, the collective index fingers of 53 players pointed in unison down the hall to the office of their coach.
If Coughlin was the tyrant we all think him to be, their fingers would've been bitten off at the knuckle. If Coughlin was Vince Lombardi, the Jaguars would now be the best-conditioned football team to ever accuse its coach of being too demanding.
Instead, Coughlin listened. He was semi-receptive to his players' accusations. Now, the ball is in the players' court. Let's see what they do with it against the Ravens.
This is their chance to get back to .500. Very honestly, if they don't do it this Sunday, it may be a long, long time before this team sees .500 again.
Here's 10 things the Jaguars must do to beat the Ravens:
* Rush for 50 yards--Don't expect the Jaguars to do much better than that against the number one run-defense in the league, but 50 yards would be twice as much as the Jaguars gained on the ground against the Steelers, and that would be real improvement.
* Hit somebody; hit anybody--Having watched the tape of the Jaguars' loss to Pittsburgh, the Ravens have to believe they're coming down here for a seal-clubbing. If the Jaguars don't stand up early, they're going to get hit on the head all day.
* Take the game to Tony Banks--The Ravens quarterback hasn't played well on the road. Put the outcome in his hands by stopping the run.
* Execute, or be executed--Tampa Bay Bucs coach John McKay was asked about the execution of his winless expansion team in 1976. McKay said, "I'm in favor of it." If the Jaguars don't improve their execution Sunday, Coughlin may pass out black hoods after the game.
* Remember 1995--With a win over the Ravens, the Jaguars will avoid having the same record on Oct. 8, 2000, as they had on Oct. 8, 1995, their inaugural season.
* Throw, but quickly--The Ravens proved in week two that they can't cover Jimmy Smith. Fine, throw it to him, but do it quickly because the Ravens found out in the second half of that week-two game that the only way to defend Smith is to sack Mark Brunell.
* Go sideways a lot--What else you gonna do against middle linebacker Ray Lewis and defensive tackles Tony Siragusa and Sam Adams? The center of the line isn't exactly the Jaguars' area of strength.
* See 3.
* Put Jaxson de Ville on the defensive line--He's big and wide and might be good against the run.
* Don't be afraid to make mistakes--We're all human and, what the heck, there's always next season.