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Jaguars facing tough time of year


At this point, it's about more than the next three weeks.

Paul Posluszny said that's how the Jaguars must approach the final three games of the season – as if the games have a bigger meaning than finishing with two victories or five.

Winning now? It still matters, Poslusnzy said.

But at the same time, the Jaguars' middle linebacker said a bigger, longer-team goal must be considered. In the wake of a second consecutive loss, and with three games remaining in a difficult season, Posluszny said longer-term goals are now the priority.

That's not ideal. But that's the Jaguars' reality.

"To make sure the program is going in the right direction, we have to finish strong," Posluszny said Monday, a day after the Jaguars' 17-10 loss to the New York Jets at EverBank Field.

"We have to stress that even though it's late in the season with a horrible record, we are trying to build something special and hopefully to carry some positive momentum into this offseason. For the guys who want to be here, and want to be a part of this organization, we have to do everything right."

Players spoke to the media Monday before the team announced Head Coach Mike Mularkey had been hospitalized after feeling ill Monday morning. The team announced that Mularkey may be kept in the hospital overnight, but that he is expected to return to work Tuesday.

The theme, then, when players spoke Monday was pretty much what Posluszny said – that in the wake of the loss to the Jets, disappointment and frustration were common emotions.

Those were evident in the locker room Monday morning, but players also spoke of a determination to move forward and have success in a final three-game stretch that begins Sunday with a road game against the Miami Dolphins.

"I'm sure everybody here agrees that we're not going to make the playoffs or anything, so we've just got to go out there and play hard – play for pride," Jaguars guard Uche Nwaneri said. "This is really a moment where people are going to be kicking at you while you're down, while you're on the ground. We just have to keep playing hard."

Nwaneri was asked about the team's morale near the end of a season that has included three overtime losses, and that began with talk of improvement.

"Players are frustrated," he said. "That's across the board. Guys are frustrated with the way this year has gone, and the situations we've been in as a team. We've had numerous opportunities to close teams out. If you look at our season game by game, there are five or six games in there, easily, where had we been able to execute just a little bit better, those are wins instead of losses.

"But it is what it is. The reality of it is we're 2-11."

Of the morale, Posluszny said, "The Monday after a loss? It's not high."

Cornerback Rashean Mathis, the Jaguars' most-veteran, tenured defensive player, said even at nine games under .500, he doesn't worry about a team playing the final games of the season without focus.

"That's not the cloth we're cut from," Mathis said. "The guys in this locker room, the coaches – it's more than a record. What you're putting on film, somebody else will see. This is how we feed our families. We play the game hard regardless of score, regardless of our record, and we have to play it with a serious poker face."

Posluszny said the stretch facing the Jaguars may be the most difficult time of the season, and Mathis said he agreed.

"It's the toughest time of year because we know there is no postseason hope," Mathis said "You play for pride, and you play for the guy next to you."

Posluszny, for his part, said the most frustrating part is the Jaguars continue to lose games they should win.

"Everything is so close in the NFL that when you have an opportunity to win a game, you have to be able to do it," Posluszny said. "When you lose this type of game and you feel like, 'Man, we should have been able to win this one,' that's the hard part.

"For all of us, we're professionals, people are watching. There's a scoreboard and we want to play to the best of our abilities. We don't want to put anything out there that doesn't represent our best."

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