JACKSONVILLE – Gus Bradley said he absolutely understands the pain.
The Jaguars' fourth-year head coach in the wake of yet another loss on Monday said he understands how people view the Jaguars' 2016 season, and he understands fans' frustration and disappointment.
He also said he feels the same way.
"It's disheartening; I share the frustration with our fans – and this team," Bradley said Monday, a day after a 20-10 loss to the Denver Broncos at EverBank Field assured the Jaguars of missing the postseason for a ninth consecutive season.
"It's difficult. It's difficult, but I believe so strongly in these guys in this locker room, and this staff and what's taking place here …"
The Jaguars on Sunday lost a seventh consecutive game, and their 2-10 record means they will finish with double-digit losses for a sixth consecutive season.
"It's not OK," Bradley said. "I'm not going to make excuses for what took place. I know people don't want to hear that: 'I don't want to hear the positive.' I agree. We're right with you and so are the guys in that locker room. We've got to get this fixed.
"It's a tough league. It's extremely difficult. You see it all the way through [the league]. … It's a challenging, challenging league and you have to be on it at all times. … You can go through some strings like this."
Bradley said when he met with the team Monday he discussed turnovers and a lack of explosive plays offensively against the Broncos. The Jaguars committed three turnovers Sunday and had just five explosive plays.
"You'd like to get that up to nine or 10," Bradley said.
Bradley said while the defense has improved in recent weeks and is now ranked No. 4 in the NFL in yards allowed, takeaways continue to be an issue. The Jaguars did not force a turnover against the Broncos, and their turnover margin as a team is a league-worst minus-18.
Bradley said punt coverage again hurt the Jaguars on special teams. A punt return had resulted in or led to a key score in four consecutive games leading to Sunday. On Sunday, a 19-yard return and subsequent 15-yard penalty led to a Denver field goal with :01 remaining in the second quarter. The Broncos also had a 22-yard punt return.
"Although it was better, those two things still showed up," Bradley said.
With four games remaining and the possibility of the postseason officially eliminated, Bradley once again was asked about sources of motivation for players. As he has said several times in recent weeks, he said he wasn't concerned about the issue.
"Just check out the types of people we have in that locker room," Bradley said. "I think that will answer your question. They're unbelievable guys and unbelievable character. As a coach, you know during a season you're going to go through some tough times. You want players who have strong enough character that it will help you through those tough times.
"That's what you're seeing in the locker room. It's unbelievable. It's unwavering yet they're hurting. But as far as their character – that part's unwavering."
The Jaguars on Sunday will play host to the Minnesota Vikings (6-6). Like the Vikings, the other three teams remaining on the schedule – AFC rivals Indianapolis, Tennessee and Houston – all have postseason hopes.
The Jaguars do not, but Bradley said he believes the team has continued to improve in recent weeks—and he said he doesn't expect that to change.
"I think it's just working hard – that's what it's all about in this game," Bradley said. "You look at defensively, for example – where we were and where we are – and the last three or four weeks you're seeing improvement. I think you're seeing improvement offensively. That's a barometer to me that these players are in it, they're working hard and they're going for it.
"But it's not enough. I told the team, 'I don't believe in excuses. It's not all right where we are.' I'm not going to say it's all right, but I do know that they work hard every week and that's what I anticipate seeing again next week."