EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ--Tom Coughlin suggested there might be changes, but there were only three days of training camp practices remaining. It gave rise to the thought it might be too late to fix what was broken.
"I don't know what else to do but to study it hard and make some personnel decisions. Maybe we have to do something there," Coughlin said following his team's 27-5 loss to the New York Giants last night.
Coughlin was irate at his team for a performance that was 1995-like. The Jaguars were dominated by the Giants; made to look over-matched and out-classed. Worst of all, Coughlin's team was about to break training camp.
Where do you start? How do you start over when you're at the end?
"It's very bothersome. I didn't expect this to happen. I am upset about it," the coach said.
Are these the Jaguars who are trying to squeeze one more playoff year out of their "window of opportunity?" Was this worth re-structuring all of those contracts and mortgaging more of the team's future?
Of course, those are harsh questions to be asked after just the second preseason game, but the Jaguars' performance against the Giants was harsh enough to give rise to any and all criticism. Coughlin's comments made that crystal clear.
"I'm not pleased at all with our football team, and it's time for our football players, and people give us credit for having good football players, to start playing," Coughlin said.
He had been consistently positive and encouraging in all of his previous training camp remarks. He seemed to be a new Coughlin; a less-demanding and more understanding Coughlin.
When his team appeared to be roughed up by the Saints in combined practices, Coughlin applauded their effort and gave them the night off. A couple of days later, he put them all on buses and took them to see a movie.
Those days probably ended with the loss to the Giants. After all, the new way isn't producing results; not even a touchdown in two games. The old way always seemed to work. Buckle up, boys.
"We don't have any excuses. Our offense was poor all night long. Our quarterbacks were rattled. We didn't create any field position and we didn't punt the ball well. They threw on us. They beat us when we shouldn't have given up plays. The cutback run continues to bother us," Coughlin offered in a critique that declared the effort a complete failure.
His players, fresh from their postgame lashing, agreed with their coach, but refused to cut themselves or declare the situation hopeless.
"He has every reason to be disappointed in our performance," quarterback Mark Brunell said, following a two-for-seven-for-16-yards effort in a little over a quarter of action. "We've got to turn this thing around because in just two short weeks it's going to be real bullets," Brunell added.
Had Coughlin had "real bullets" in New York, he might've fired them in the direction of his offensive line, which has become the Jaguars' major trouble area for the second consecutive summer. The line allowed three sacks and constant pressure. Rookie right tackle Maurice Williams struggled against Pro-Bowl defensive end Michael Strahan, as should be expected, and veteran center Jeff Smith executed a costly holding penalty, a botched exchange with Brunell, and an errant snap to Brunell when the latter was in shotgun formation.
Wide receiver Alvis Whitted drew Coughlin's ire for having fumbled the ball away on an end-around that was the best-blocked play of the night. Whitted also struggled at catching the ball and in running routes, and clearly damaged his chances of making the roster.
"My protection could've been better and my reads could've been better," Brunell said.
Surprisingly, third quarterback Jonathan Quinn did not play. Martin was replaced in the fourth quarter by roster longshot Ted White. When asked why Quinn didn't play, Coughlin said, "because he played last week and Martin didn't."
"We have the talent to get things turned around, and I think we will. No panic button. I'd be a fool to think we can't be where we want to be. We have guys who can really play," Brunell added.
Two of those "guys," wide receivers Jimmy Smith and Keenan McCardell, did not play against the Giants. "That is not an excuse," Brunell said.
The Jaguars' only scores were a 41-yard field goal by Mike Hollis and a blocked punt by rookie Eric Westmoreland that went out of the end zone for a safety. The visitors were out-gained 313 yards to 169, and held the ball for nearly 10 minutes fewer than the Giants. Of course, it was just a preseason game.
"If you say it's just a preseason game, you're making excuses," linebacker Kevin Hardy said.
"We played awful tonight. We've got two games in the preseason to get it fixed. Time is short," offensive tackle Tony Boselli said.
As the Jaguars prepare to break training camp, you can't help but wonder: Can it be fixed?
Vic Ketchman is the Senior Editor of Jaguars Inside Report, the official team newspaper of the Jacksonville Jaguars. One-year subscriptions may be purchased by calling 1-888-846-5247.