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Keep pushing


Blaine Gabbert sees the Jaguars' task as being fairly clear.

"We've got to be better," Gabbert said Tuesday afternoon. "We've got to win more football games. It's pretty cut and dry and pretty simple. We've got to execute better as an offense, and win games. We've got to find a way."

So far this season, the Jaguars have done that twice.

The problem is they haven't done it six times, and as a result, a team that finished 8-8 last season enters the bye week with a 2-6 record needing a dramatic – and perhaps even historic – turnaround for a chance at the post-season.

The Jaguars, despite improving from 28th in the NFL in total defense to seventh overall, are ranked 32nd in the NFL in total offense and are averaging just over 12 points a game. They have yet to score more than 20 points in a game, and enter the bye having lost six of seven games.

That left a question on Tuesday: Just where do the Jaguars go from here?

Shortly after the first of two bye week practices Tuesday afternoon, Jaguars veteran leaders said the answer was simple, but not necessarily easy.

You go back to work. You keep trying to improve.

"Keep pushing – we're here for a reason and that's to win ballgames," Jaguars tight end Marcedes Lewis said.

And while Lewis said he knows it's tough to hear at 2-6, he said there are still a lot of positives – and said appearances to the contrary, the team is close.

"We're making easy stuff hard and doing the hard stuff – you know what I mean?" Lewis said. "We have to make the routine plays. It's easier said than done, but that's what the difference is – to make (running back) Maurice (Jones-Drew)'s runs go from six yards to 16 yards, and for us to be on our right spots, for Blaine to be hitting us . . . it's a fine line. This game is a game of inches."

In that sense, Lewis said the bye coming at the midway point in the season may be a positive.

"It might be good for us to get away for a few days and reflect and really just take a deep breath," Lewis said.

Jaguars center Brad Meester agreed.

"I think this is a great week to really look at this first half and find out what we need to work on, what we need to get better at," Meester said. "We just need to keep working. We started doing some of that today and we'll do it again tomorrow. It's a week to get better and focus on the second half.

"We have to make corrections, get better and keep pushing. It's all you can do."

Lewis said the Jaguars being a relatively young team makes the situation – and staying focused entering the second half – difficult, but added of veterans such as himself, linebacker Daryl Smith, defensive end Aaron Kampman, cornerback Rashean Mathis, Meester and running back Maurice Jones-Drew, "That's why we're here."

"We've got to keep everybody circling the wagons and not worrying about what's going on on the outside," Lewis said. "At the end of the day, we're all human. We're not machines. Sometimes, we wish we were, but we're not. Naturally, some things are going to affect you, but at the same time, you have to understand that this is your job and this is what we do.

"We're going to be here playing this game regardless of if we win or lose. We have to continue to give it our all. It will shine through at some time."

Jaguars Head Coach Jack Del Rio on Monday said he was conceding nothing and that "until you drive a stake through me I'm going to always fight for every inch."

"No one is ever putting the stake in us regardless," Jones-Drew said. "It is what it is. Right now we've earned 2-6. The beauty about it and the beauty about the NFL schedule, they switched it up where now you play most of your divisional games at the end of the year, so we still have a chance to come back and win it.

"Obviously we have some things to bounce our way, but we've just got to take it one game at a time. . . . At the end of the day we're 2-6, but I could care less what our record is. You ask any team that plays us; they know they're in for a dog fight, whatever it may be. We're going to go out and we're going to find a way to win."

Also for the Jaguars Tuesday:

*Gabbert was asked about multiple analysts recently critiquing his work in the pocket while under pressure. "I'm really not worried about what they have to say, honestly," Gabbert said. "You can ask our coaches what they think. They say I'm doing a good job and that's really the only thing that matters to me. Quite honestly, I don't care other people think or say. I'm worried about what my teammates think about me, what my offensive line thinks about me and what the coaches think about me. That's all that matters. Those are the people who have an influence on how I play."

*The two practices this week focus not on the next opponent – the Indianapolis Colts on November 13 – but on themselves. NFL teams rarely drill on fundamentals during regular-season weeks, instead focusing on the opponent and the game plan. The bye week offers a rare opportunity for self-scouting and working on areas within the team that might need improvement. "It's good we come in here today and tomorrow, just to get refreshed, come out here and reaffirm to ourselves that we're good players and still a good football team," Gabbert said. "It's good to get these two days of work in, then it's going to be nice getting away, come back and get rejuvenated next week."

*The Jaguars issued no official injury report, but wide receiver Mike Sims-Walker – who missed practice last Friday with an illness – did not practice during the period open to the media, nor did offensive tackle/guard Eben Britton (back). Running back Maurice Jones-Drew worked on a stationary bike, as did defensive end John Chick (abdomen) and safety Courtney Greene (hamstring) while defensive end Aaron Kampman also worked on the side. Guard Will Rackley (ankle) and Gabbert (ribs) practiced after sustaining injuries Sunday.

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