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Coordinator Thursday: "You have to have that mental toughness…"

Jacksonville Jaguars defensive coordinator Todd Wash talks with defensive end Yannick Ngakoue (91) against the Houston Texans during an NFL game Sunday, December 30, 2018 in Houston. (Rick Wilson via AP)

JACKSONVILLE – The focus is on the field.

It's on meetings and preparation, too – anything involving Sunday. And little else.

Jaguars offensive coordinator John DeFilippo made that clear on Thursday, as did defensive coordinator Todd Wash. Both echoed the sentiments this week of Head Coach Doug Marrone:

Control what you can control. Focus on the now.

"We've got our head down, and we go," Wash said as the Jaguars (5-10) prepared to play the Indianapolis Colts (7-8) at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville Sunday at 4:25 p.m.

Such is the nature of a losing season in the NFL:

Observers in recent weeks have speculated about the professional futures of not only Marrone, but General Manager David Caldwell. Jaguars Owner Shad Khan last week relieved Tom Coughlin of his duties as Executive Vice President of Football Operations, saying at the time that Caldwell and Marrone each would report to him directly on an interim basis.

Marrone, in his third season as the Jaguars' head coach, has fielded questions for several weeks about job security. He has addressed the issue openly, and DeFilippo and Wash each were asked similar questions during the weekly media availabilities Thursday.

"I talk to our players all the time about professionalism, and that's professionalism as a coach as well," DeFilippo, in his first season as the Jaguars' offensive coordinator, said. "You have to have that mental toughness to forge ahead.

"If it was something like a play call, that I had control over, I would probably worry about it a lot more. But I don't have any control over those things. We talk to our players about controlling the controllables all the time. You have to practice what you preach as well."

Wash, in his seventh season with the Jaguars and fourth as defensive coordinator, said the approach this week was as normal as possible.

"Whatever happens, happens," Wash said. "We're good with it. I think we did a nice job with our players. They're playing hard. I think that's a credit to the character that they have. We'll let the chips fall where they may at the end of the year."

DeFilippo also on Thursday discussed the job Marrone has done in a season in which Marrone and the staff often have navigated the unexpected and uncontrollable: A Week 1 injury to starting quarterback Nick Foles, the midseason trade of cornerback Jalen Ramsey, the offseason retirement of linebacker Telvin Smith and so on.

The Jaguars started the season 4-4 before losing six of the last seven games – with all six losses coming by double digits. DeFilippo called Marrone's performance through the season "awesome."

"He sees the big picture of the whole thing really, really good," DeFilippo said. "He has been just so steady this season. We all know [the off-field issues facing the team] … they're all well-documented. That's the reason we've been able to function as a unit with all the changes, is because of his steadiness.

"There were some tough situations that he has been through and I've just learned so much from him, observing him."

Also on Thursday:

*Wash lauded cornerback Tre Herndon, saying the second-year veteran for the most part has played well since taking over as the starter after Ramsey's midseason trade to the Los Angeles Rams. "He's playing extremely well," Wash said. "He hasn't given up very many explosive plays. Guys are going to catch a ball on everybody at some point in time. We're really pleased with his progress. He does exactly what we want him to do, not only in the pass game but the run game. The way he's playing is really a lot of credit to him." …

*Wash declined to discuss linebacker Myles Jack's potential position moving forward. "Whatever position he plays, he'll continue to get better," Wash said. Jack, who underwent knee surgery and was placed on injured reserve three weeks ago, has started at middle linebacker the past two seasons after playing strong-side linebacker his first two seasons. Speculation among some observers has been Jack could also play the weak-side linebacker position formerly played by Smith. …

*Wash said defensive end Yannick Ngakoue has improved against the run this season, something that was a preseason goal of coaches for the fourth-year veteran. "He's put some really good stuff on tape," Wash said. "We challenged him early in the year in the offseason when he was here about playing the run. He has improved his stats statistically against the run." Ngakoue is currently playing on the final season of his rookie contract and is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent in March. The Jaguars also have the option of retaining Ngakoue for next season with the NFL's franchise tag. …

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