The Jaguars' fall reached the point of embarrassment Sunday, in a 35-16 loss to the visiting Washington Redskins in which the Jaguars played an incompetent brand of football that included two lost fumbles, two interceptions, six sacks allowed, several dropped passes and two long touchdown passes allowed. They added up to the Jaguars' fifth consecutive loss and third in a row at home.
They are 2-6 at the midway point in the season. The postseason isn't even a thought. Now, they seek only some kind of recovery that will allow them to hold their heads up. They want to end the season by saying they didn't quit, but there are even worries about that.
"I've been here since the beginning. We've built something we're extremely proud of, and it's come to this," offensive tackle Tony Boselli said.
On this Sunday afternoon, they lost their star pass-rusher, defensive end Tony Brackens, when he was disqualified from the game for kneeing and kicking Redskins guard Jay Leeuwenburg near the end of the first half. In, yet, another nationally-televised game, America saw the Jaguars at their worst, again.
It led coach Tom Coughlin to refer to his team's performance as "undisciplined," and changes are expected.
"You can put them down. You can bench them," Coughlin said when asked what can be done about undisciplined players, "and very well that may happen. But you have only so many guys. That's your team."
Brackens' act was singled out, and so was R. Jay Soward's blunders, which included a dropped pass that skipped into Deion Sanders' hands and led to the Redskins' first touchdown, a fumbled punt that led to the Redskins' second touchdown, and a drop in the end zone that sapped the Jaguars of whatever life was left in them.
Other than for a brief period in the second quarter, when the Jaguars held a 10-7 lead, the Redskins were in control of the game throughout, and that's an odd fact when you consider that the Jaguars out-rushed the Redskins, one of the league's most respected rushing offenses.
"Blame us," Boselli said sarcastically of the offensive line, which has been a weekly scapegoat. Yeah, quarterback Mark Brunell's sack count is up to 38, which easily puts the Jaguars on pace to set an NFL record, but the line blocked well enough to get Fred Taylor 124 yards rushing. It was Taylor's second consecutive 100-yard game.
Had the Jaguars not allowed the Redskins 14 points off a tip and a fumble, and not dropped an apparent certain touchdown pass, they would've been able to rest on their running game as they protected a lead. The Jaguars' high number of sacks allowed is directly attributable to their pass attempts, 42 against the Redskins, which pads their league lead.
"Up to this year, we were never a team that beat ourselves. This year, we've found a way to beat ourselves every game," Boselli said.
"Right now, people are just waiting for us to make an error, and we're making them. That's the thing that discourages me the most, that we are literally giving the games away because of errors," Coughlin said.
In what has become a trademark of this team since its AFC title game loss to the Titans last January, the Jaguars collapsed in the second half, after trailing 21-16 at halftime. For the second time this season, they scored no points in the second half, and they've scored only 54 points in the second half of games this season.
Turnovers have become an epidemic, and Coughlin was asked what the remedy is.
"You can get in a dead T (formation) and hand it off. You can do that. We're trying to win football games. Nobody goes over the details and fundamentals of taking care of the football more than we do. Carelessness is what you see. You have to get the ball put away," Coughlin said.
The defense is just as big a problem. It is allowing points at an alarming clip. The Jaguars have allowed 190 points in half a season, after allowing 217 points all of last season.
Redskins wide receiver Albert Connell caught seven passes for 211 yards and three touchdowns (11, 49 and 77). Connell split safeties Mike Logan and Donovin Darius for his 49-yarder, then appeared to have beaten Darius for the 77-yarder.
The Jaguars continue to be plagued by injuries, and it was feared they had lost offensive tackle Zach Wiegert and defensive tackle Gary Walker for extended periods of time. Both players suffered knee injuries. Wide receiver Jimmy Smith, who attempted to play on a bad right knee, further aggravated the injury, and linebacker Lonnie Marts did the same to his season-long abdominal strain.
"The number of people who were not a part of this game is almost at the ridiculous stage, to be honest with you," Coughlin said.
It all adds up to one giant question: Where is bottom for this team? Have the Jaguars reached it, or are they an elevator still heading down?
A trip to Dallas is ahead, followed by a bye week, then seven games that will decide whether or not this team can at least win more games than the 4-12 inaugural-season team did in 1995.
"This is really a time when leaders are going to have to step up. Each guy is accountable for how he plays; how much he puts into his work. Obviously, there are some guys who are struggling right now," Brunell told reporters.
"Being 2-6 certainly isn't good, but I know we have the guys in that locker room who have a lot of character and a great work ethic and a great attitude. We are 2-6, but, honestly, I think we have the best chemistry we've ever had. We want to win," Brunell added.