The Jaguars' loss in New Orleans on Sunday has caused a distinct negativity among the team's fans about the prospects for what remains of this season. Lopsided defeats will do that, which is probably why Fred Taylor made a point on Wednesday of providing a more positive perspective.
"We have to win this game. We have to drive it home to guys that we really have a shot. All that really matters is getting in. It's like life or death. We have to beat the Titans," Taylor said.
He was talking about the playoffs; about really having a shot at making the playoffs and about how all that really matters is getting into the playoffs because everyone is in the same boat at that point. Whether you're the number one seed or the number six seed, lose one and you're done.
Taylor's remarks spawned this question to Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio: Do you think your players understand that they have a shot?
"They should. I don't know why anybody would think other than that. We're sitting here with the fifth-best record in the AFC. The NFL season is a marathon. There's no guarantee Peyton Manning couldn't sprain his ankle. Things happen," Del Rio said.
You bet things happen. Let's look at the last few years. Look at last year. The Colts left Jacksonville on Dec. 10 disgraced. They had lost in Tennessee the previous week. Two weeks after their 44-17 loss in Jacksonville, the Colts completed their triumvirate by losing in Houston.
Imagine that. The team that would go on to sweep through the playoffs and breeze to victory in the Super Bowl staggered into the postseason on the heels of three consecutive division losses.
Let's go back two years. The Steelers had been given up for dead the first Sunday in Dec., following a home loss to Cincinnati. It was the Steelers' third consecutive defeat and their coach wanted to shut down the team's starting quarterback and send him on to thumb surgery and a winter of rehab. The quarterback, however, decided the surgery should wait and he then led his team to four consecutive wins that earned the Steelers the final wild-card spot. Big deal, huh?
Well, three road wins later, the Steelers' sore-thumbed quarterback led his team to the first-ever Super Bowl victory by a team that hadn't played a postseason game on home turf. You bet it was a big deal.
Things happen? You bet they do. That's why you never quit; don't ever quit.
"I showed our team this morning the entire AFC, one through 16; where people are ranked. Clearly, a lot of football is to be played. It's a week to week penthouse to outhouse and back to penthouse thing. You have to keep plugging away," Del Rio said.
That's what the Colts and the Steelers did. They kept plugging away and it made their victories even sweeter.
Yeah, the Jaguars have problems. I won't lie to you. They have a defense in decline. They have injuries and suspensions and reason for grave concern, and on top of all of that, they have a killer finishing schedule.
What all of that will have done for them, should they make it into the playoffs, is to have hardened them for what's ahead. If it was easy, anybody could do it. It is, however, not easy, and what lies ahead in the regular season for the Jaguars will fully prepare them.
They have a shot. They can get in. In a football kind of way, it really is life or death, and that's why you don't quit; don't ever quit.