These are the toughest of times for Cleveland Browns coach Chris Palmer, and his former head coach, Tom Coughlin, is not without sympathy.
"Chris is a friend of mine. I know him well. I have good friends on that staff. I did feel badly for him," Coughlin told reporters today, less than 24 hours after the Jaguars had dealt Palmer and the Browns a 48-0 defeat that was a statistical humiliation for the proud Cleveland franchise.
It was the Browns' worst performance since their first game back in the league last year, when they were throttled in their new stadium by their most intense rival, the Pittsburgh Steelers. After that game, the Browns complained that the Steelers had run up the score.
Most recently, the Browns had the same thoughts about Art Modell's Baltimore Ravens, however, there were no such complaints following yesterday's game, though the FOX broadcast crew of Don Criqui and Steve Tasker openly accused the Jaguars of running up the score.
"You're trying to run the clock. You're trying to get the game over. I didn't want to kick the field goal. We ran the same play to the left that we had run to the right," Coughlin said of a three-yard touchdown run by rookie Shyrone Stith with 5:27 to play in the fourth quarter.
"I told our staff this morning that we will very quickly put this one to rest and move forward," Coughlin said.
Clearly, there is very little to be gained by scrutinizing a game in which the Browns offered no competition. They gained two first downs, one of which was by penalty. They did not convert a third-down play. The humiliation goes on and on.
The Jaguars turn their attention now to the Arizona Cardinals, another three-win team that isn't expected to offer much resistance this Sunday at Alltel Stadium. Then, the Jaguars will go to Cincinnati, where the Bengals are currently 3-10, before closing the season at the playoff-bound New York Giants.
This is a good time of the season for the Jaguars, as they fatten their record against lesser competition. This was supposed to be that point in the season where the Jaguars would jockey for homefield advantage for the playoffs. Now, they are a team whose playoff hopes are so extreme that the players won't even acknowledge them.
"We just kept grinding away and stuck to our guns and what we believe in. I knew we would battle and I knew we would fight," Coughlin said of his team, which had sunk to 3-7 prior to a game in Pittsburgh that began their current three-game winning streak.
At 6-7, the Jaguars aren't where they want to be in the standings, but their situation is a lot better than the Browns'.