Day after: "It's a team that has showed resiliency"

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Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone looks on from the sidelines during the first half of an NFL football game against the Denver Broncos, Sunday, Sept. 29, 2019, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
  • JACKSONVILLE – Doug Marrone's not sure the Jaguars have an identity. Yet.

But if there's one thing the Jaguars' head coach said he likes about the team a month into the 2019 season, it's this:

It will fight. It will scrap. And it won't give up.

"The one thing we've been consistent in is being resilient, being able to work, and being able to play together," Marrone said Monday. "Right now, that's the identity of this team, and we'll keep working on the other factors."

Marrone, speaking a day after a 26-24 victory over the Denver Broncos at Empower Field at Mile High, was asked about the identity of the team a month into the season. The Jaguars thus far this season have been tricky to figure, losing the first two games before winning the last two to move into a four-way tie for the AFC South lead at 2-2.

Sunday's victory in a sense defined September. The Jaguars trailed by two touchdowns in the first half before rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew II's two third-quarter touchdown passes. They trailed by one with 1:32 remaining before Minshew led a 60-yard drive that ended with kicker Josh Lambo's 33-yard game-winning field goal on the game's final play.

"It's a team that really has kind of blocked a lot of things out and really tried focus on doing what we've asked them to do," Marrone said. "It's a team that's playing together, meaning there's a confidence about the phases being able to contribute and help one another out. 

"If one's down, the other one can step up. I think that's important."

The two-game winning streak has come in difficult circumstances, with two-time Pro Bowl cornerback Jalen Ramsey requesting a trade after a Week 2 loss at Houston. Ramsey started the Jaguars' Week 3 victory over the Tennessee Titans but missed the victory over the Broncos with a back injury.

The streak also has happened without Week 1 starting quarterback Nick Foles, who has been out since the first quarter of the regular-season opener with a broken clavicle.

Minshew, a sixth-round selection in the 2019 NFL Draft, has started the last three games.

"There's been a lot," Marrone said. "There's been a lot of fluctuation offensively, obviously – with Nick then Gardner, the offensive line, things of that nature. I would say if I had to put a stamp on, 'Hey, what's the identity right now? It's a team that's showed some resiliency.'''

The Jaguars perhaps moved toward an identity Sunday, turning in one of the most dominant rushing performances in franchise history. Running back Leonard Fournette rushed for a career-high 225 yards against the Broncos, and the Jaguars' 269 yards rushing as a team was the second-most in a single game in franchise history.

Marrone spoke several times during the week leading to the game about the offensive line needing to block better for Fournette. 

"When you talk about identity, we're all coaches and we all want to get up there and beat our chest and say, 'Hey, we're physical and we can do this and we can do that,''' Marrone said. "It's still an early sample size and I think we're working to be a physical football team on both fronts."

The Jaguars' victories and losses have come in multiple fashions this season. They allowed 40 points to the Kansas City Chiefs in a Week 1 loss, then responded with back-to-back dominant defensive efforts in a Week 2 loss at Houston and a Week 3 victory over Tennessee. 

The defense struggled early Sunday, then allowed just 115 second-half yards as the Jaguars rallied from a double-digit halftime deficit.

"It depends on what your performance is," Marrone said. "Right now, you've seen it. It's hard to come out and say, 'We're a running team,' or, 'We can stop the run and defend the pass,' or, 'We can get after the quarterback.' You see a lot of glimpses of things in the past couple of games.

"In order to have an identity, you have to be consistent."

Overall, Marrone said he likes the team's position and its chance to improve moving forward.

"If we keep going the way we are, keep developing and learning from our mistakes – and not getting these penalties and things of that nature … I think we have an opportunity to be a pretty good football team," Marrone said.

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