The lines of communication between Jaguars players and coaches were opened early this week, when defensive tackle Gary Walker unofficially spoke for the team with these remarks to the media:
"I think people are playing tight; scared to make mistakes. If you can go out and relax and play, you can get a lot more done than playing tight," Walker said.
Rumors are that Walker also appealed to coach Tom Coughlin to ease his demands on the team, and Coughlin more or less confirmed today that communication between coaches and players was increased this week.
"It's been a week when there's been some communication back and forth, and some things the players have decided to take upon their shoulders, and we'll see," Coughlin said.
"There's been a concerted effort on the part of the players to acknowledge that the execution part has to come from them. We need more of it," Coughlin added.
Maybe the two factions can arrange a trade of their "demands." The players are seeking a friendlier working environment. Coughlin wants improved execution. Should the players provide that execution in the form of a win over the visiting Baltimore Ravens this Sunday, Coughlin is likely to be a kinder, gentler coach next week.
The two factions reached a similar agreement in 1996, and the Jaguars responded with seven consecutive wins that carried them to the AFC title game. If there's a difference, it's that the '96 club was in good health to make its late-season charge. The current collection of Jaguars looks more like a MASH unit.
"Our heart and soul has got to be put into our jobs, and it's got to be reflected on the field, not only in terms of effort, but in terms of execution, as well," Coughlin said.
His major complaints are that his team has been unable to run the ball, or stop the opponents from running the ball. The Steelers rushed for 209 yards this past Sunday, while holding the Jaguars to a franchise-low 26 yards rushing.
The Jaguars will be facing a Baltimore defense that is number one in the league against the run, but 15th against the pass. Even though Coughlin would like to see his team be more successful rushing the football, that's not likely to occur against the Ravens. Most would agree that winning will hinge on the Jaguars' ability to throw it with the success they did in a 39-36 loss in Baltimore in week two.
Meanwhile, Baltimore's running game is ranked second in the league, which poses a serious challenge to the Jaguars' beleaguered defense.
In Baltimore, the Ravens defense is being compared to the 1985 Chicago Bears and 1976 Pittsburgh Steelers defenses. That was the case in Jacksonville last year, too.
When asked if the Jaguars might take a lesson from the Ravens defense this Sunday, Coughlin said: "What did we do here last year? Were you here last year? Maybe they're taking a lesson from us."
The Jaguars don't need a lesson as much as they need a win to cement this week's "agreement" between Coughlin and his players.