Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio likened football to golf on Wednesday and told reporters he wants his team to keep its focus on "left edge and firm."
Del Rio was speaking in golfer's parlance about picking a spot to hit a putt. Golfers will often refer to aiming at one of the edges of the hole and, depending on whether it's an uphill or downhill putt, how hard or soft to hit the putt. "Left edge and firm" would be the instructions for an uphill putt that's expect to break to the right.
So what's with the golf analogy? Well, Del Rio was trying to drive home the point that his team needs to ignore talk about what it needs to do to win a wild-card playoff spot, or what might happen if it doesn't win this Sunday in Cincinnati, and focus all of its attention on the immediate task at end.
Translation: The Jaguars are facing a must-make putt.
"We don't need to talk about what if we do or what if we don't. Let's just go; left edge and firm," Del Rio said. "I like my team, I like my coaching staff. We're just not happy with the results, yet."
At 3-4, the Jaguars' backs will be against the wall this Sunday in Cincinnati when they face the 0-8 Bengals. Some might say a winless team is just what the doctor ordered for a team desperate to keep its playoff hopes alive. Others might say the Bengals are due to win. Del Rio doesn't want to hear either.
"We only have three more wins than they do. They might be looking at us like it may be time to catch one," running back Fred Taylor said.
Del Rio is doing his best to block that kind of thinking.
"I talked to them about the need to keep the faith; the need to bring positive energy, starting with me. We have to get on with the next one. I think the guys are ready for that," Del Rio said.
The Jaguars are coming off a heartbreaking, 23-17 loss to the Cleveland Browns. The Jags are tied with the Colts and Texans for second place in the AFC South, all seemingly out of division title contention but all hopeful of making a second-half-of-the-season charge for the playoffs. Last year, the Jags won six of seven games in the second half of the season to claim a wild-card berth.
"I'm going to be just as intense as if (the Bengals) were undefeated," middle linebacker Mike Peterson said, vowing that there will be no quit in the Jaguars despite the team's slow start. "The veterans in the locker room won't let that happen," Peterson said.
There is still no news about a possible suspension for wide receiver Matt Jones, and that's good news for the Jaguars because Mike Walker is unlikely to be in uniform on Sunday. Walker has returned to the team after defeating a recent knee infection, but Del Rio said it's not likely Walker will be ready to play in Cincinnati and has set next week as a more practical target for Walker's return to action.
In other injury news, kicker Josh Scobee is wearing a protective wrap of some sort over his right thumb, after injuring it in tackling Joshua Cribbs this past Sunday. Del Rio joked that the Jaguars won't be able to use the trick plays they hold in reserve for Scobee.
Otherwise, the Jaguars are in pretty good shape. They've got the to-be-expected assortment of midseason nicks and bruises, but quarterback David Garrard is healthy and playing at his highest level of the season and if the Jaguars can sink that putt in Cincinnati this Sunday, they will have taken the first step toward the winning streak they must put together.