Jack Del Rio calls it his team's "early storm." He's referring to the rash of injuries the Jaguars sustained to start the season.
Center Brad Meester was lost on the second day of training camp and it's hoped he might return to the lineup when the Jaguars host Cleveland. Both starting guards, Vince Manuwai and Mo Williams, were lost for the season in week one. Along the way, the Jags have had to play without starting safety Reggie Nelson, starting cornerback Drayton Florence, starting defensive tackle Rob Meier, starting linebacker Justin Durant and others.
Yeah, you could call it a "storm" but it's not as though the Jaguars are the only team to experience it. No team has sustained a setback the equal of New England's loss of quarterback Tom Brady for the season. It's the equivalent of having an entire offseason of work thrown in the trash.
There are others who've had to survive early storms. The Steelers have been without star running back Willie Parker and three starting linemen – Casey Hampton, Brett Keisel and Kendall Simmons – and the Steelers have survived nicely to sit at 4-1 following their bye week.
San Diego has been without star pass-rusher Shawne Merriman and the Chargers are coming off a thrashing of the Patriots to sit at 3-3. Philadelphia has been without star running back Brian Westbrook and the Eagles have managed to survive against a rugged opening schedule to carve out a 3-3 record that keeps them in contention. How about the 4-1 Giants and the loss of star pass-rusher Osi Umenyiora?
What do all of those teams have in common? They've made it through their storms.
Then there are the teams that seem to have capsized. Seattle has been without quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and has seen its record fall to 1-4, and Cincinnati hasn't been able to manage a victory without a healthy Carson Palmer.
"That's part of life," Del Rio said of injuries. "One of the things I take pride in is doing all I can to help the men I have here learn life lessons. Football is a slice of life. It's important that you be able to fight through adversity. Our guys have been able to do that.
"There's no question in my mind this was an early-season storm that could've ruined a team. We were able to survive it. We've been in each and every ballgame. There's definitely been some character building take place in those first six games. It has a way of hardening us that could later be beneficial," Del Rio added.
The bye week offers a chance for reflection. Del Rio did some of it this week. He talked about being 0-2 and winning a must-win game in Indianapolis. He talked about losing a heartbreaker to the Steelers and then rebounding in a must-win game this past Sunday in Denver. The look ahead, however, is more important and the prospect is brighter.
Three of the Jaguars' next five games will be played at home. The two road games are against the NFL's only two winless teams, Cincinnati and Detroit.
"We feel like our best football is ahead of us. Play better football down the stretch; that's what we're after," Del Rio said.