JACKSONVILLE – Victory is close.
That has been the prevailing feeling around the Jaguars in recent weeks – and it's a feeling they carried across the Atlantic Ocean to play the Miami Dolphins in London, England.
The Jaguars' focus in the United Kingdom? Winning.
That's it. That's the priority.
"I look at our team and how hard they've worked and how close they've come," Head Coach Urban Meyer said Friday at The Grove Hotel in Hertfordshire, United Kingdom, as the Jaguars (0-5) prepared to play the Miami Dolphins (1-4) at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London Sunday at 9:30 a.m.
"[I look] at the improvements we've made. This is a great opportunity. We're happy to be here. We have a heck of a locker room, and the guys are working their tails off."
The Jaguars, in Meyer's first season as head coach, improved steadily from Weeks 1-4 – losing in one-sided fashion in Week 1 to the Texans in Houston before losing on a last-play field goal to the Bengals in Cincinnati in Week 4. They rallied in the third and fourth quarter against the Tennessee Titans – with a chance to pull to within five points – before losing, 37-19, this past Sunday.
"We haven't started the way we wanted to, but we still have 12 games left," Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence said. "There's a lot of time left. That's our goal, every week, to get better. We're getting there, and we're coming along and starting to click and playing much better football.
“Regardless of whatever happens in these next 12 games, I plan on being in Jacksonville for a long time. It’s really a big-picture thing. I’m going to keep getting better every week and I think this team will do the same. I have a lot of confidence in the people we have – the coaches, the group we have in general. The team has been great. I don’t have any doubts about that." - QB Trevor Lawrence
"It's just a matter of time before things start clicking."
The Jaguars dating to Week 2 of 2020 have lost 20 consecutive games – a franchise record and the NFL's longest losing streak since the Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost their first 26 consecutive games in franchise history 1976 and 1977.
"It's a very unique group we're dealing with here," Meyer said. "The rock's going to break. Facts are facts about losing games, but it's a fact [that the Jaguars have made] steady progress. This is the NFL. We have really good leadership on this team, a really good locker room on this team and they want to win in the worst way. That's the only way to handle it."
Cornerback Shaquill Griffin said the key is for the Jaguars to "continue to jell."
"We still haven't played our best ball yet," Griffin said. "I can only imagine what that looks like. That's the part we're building on. This is an organization that we plan on building for the best for the future. We have to continue to grind right now, continue to jell right now, continue to have faith and hope and believe in each other. That's the part that's going to carry us.
"Not from just this year, but into next year and the year after. We have to build that bond between each other. The main thing is we have to put together four great quarters every single game. That's part we're focused on.
"Our main focus is putting the best ball on the field each game."
Meyer, speaking to the London media Friday, was asked about his transition to Jacksonville and the NFL after 17 years as one of the most successful coaches in college football history: "I've been asked that a lot. You win by two touchdowns [in college] and it's, 'What happened? Why did you play so poorly?' Here, you look across the field and there are great teams each week. It's not something I was shocked by. It's very different. But I'm at a point in my career that this is about the players. I've always been about the players. I've always been about the best sports performance and giving them the opportunity to win a game. That's all I care about." Meyer added: "Jacksonville has been great. Our fans have been outstanding. They want to win. We've got a great young quarterback (Lawrence). We're getting good pieces around him. We're going to turn this thing."
Jaguars linebacker Myles Jack (back) and offensive lineman Rashaad Coward (ankle) on Friday were ruled out of Sunday's game after not practicing this week and not traveling with the team to London. Cornerback Tyson Campbell (toe) and defensive lineman Roy Robertson-Harris (ankle) were listed as questionable, with all other Jaguars players expected to be available Sunday.
Meyer: "I love the trajectory of our offense right now. I love the balance. I love the fact that we're running the ball. The offensive line is probably the most consistent part of our team. [Running back] James [Robinson] is running hard. You can see Trevor Lawrence's improvement. I like the direction of our offense."