JACKSONVILLE – The keel stays even – even as the performances improve.
That has been Head Coach Doug Marrone's approach after every victory this season, and it remained that way a day after the Jaguars' first victory this season at EverBank Field.
Yes, a one-sided victory over the Cincinnati Bengals Sunday marked the first time this season the Jaguars won in Jacksonville – and their first time this season winning back-to-back games. It also was as impressive a defensive performance as the team has had in a season marked by such days.
But did Marrone see it as cause for celebration? Not even close.
"We really haven't accomplished anything from a goal standpoint," Marrone said a day after the Jaguars (5-3) remained in a first-place tie in the AFC South with a 23-7 victory over Cincinnati (3-5).
"We tied the first quarter and won the second quarter. We're going into the third quarter and we really have to keep a focus on what we've been doing."
The Jaguars on Sunday beat the Bengals in an emotional game, allowing Cincinnati just 148 yards and eight first downs. The Bengals ran a franchise-record low 37 plays while Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles led an offense that produced 407 total yards.
It was the fifth time in the 10 games since Marrone took over late last season the Jaguars have been over 400 yards offense. They were over 400 yards just once in the first 14 games last season.
The Jaguars through eight games rank third in the NFL in total defense and ninth in total offense. They lead the NFL in rushing, passing defense and sacks.
Sunday's game was also marked by jawing from both teams – as well as a fight between Bengals receiver A.J. Green and Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey that resulted in both players being ejected. Marrone on Monday discussed his approach with players talking during games.
"I don't try to change players," Marrone said. "I've had a lot of good football players, and I've always said the same thing: 'Listen, you've just got to make sure you do not hurt the team.' That's it. I don't try to say, 'You can't do this or you can't do that.'
"A lot of guys get motivated in different ways. It happens against us. Some of our guys talk. My job is to make sure we win football games. If anything occurs on that hurts us from winning football games, I need to make sure I discuss that with the player and obviously with the coaches."
*Marrone declined to comment on whether Ramsey indeed should have been ejected, saying he had asked the NFL for clarification on the "reasoning" behind the ejection. "I want to make sure I get all the information first before I comment on that," Marrone said, adding that he spoke to Ramsey Monday about the situation. "The better player you are, the more stuff like that happens," Marrone said. "He has to be aware of it. Those things are going to occur." …
*Marrone said he spoke to the team as a whole about in-game behavior following the game, telling them "We can't do anything that's going to hurt or take from our team winning. That's the message I've given the players – and that's one we've given to the players constantly. I've been trying to preach that all the time. People try to bait you into things. You just don't want to be that team that makes fouls or takes away from anything that can take away from the possibility of winning a football game. We address those things on a weekly basis."
*Marrone, who praised quarterback Blake Bortles after Sunday's victory, said he is pleased with the development of the passing offense since wide receiver Allen Robinson's Week 1 season-ending torn anterior cruciate ligament. "I think that's where we've done a nice job," Marrone said. "We've been able to spread out the targets. You don't replace someone like Allen Robinson with just one player. It's going to take other people around him to step up." Marrone cited the recent improvement of rookie Keelan Cole, who had a key one-handed reception for a first down Sunday, and also lauded veteran Marqise Lee for playing productively through recent knee issues that have kept him out of practice. Marrone also said that Allen Hurns (three receptions, 31 yards Sunday) has played at a high level, calling him "Mr. Consistent for us right now." …
*Marrone also discussed wide receiver Dede Westbrook, who remained on injured reserve this past weekend after being eligible to be activated Sunday. He has not yet played this season after undergoing core-muscle surgery early in the season. "We're waiting for him to be ready to go at the level we think he can get on the field and help us," Marrone said. "Right now, he's just not ready. … We don't want to bring him back too early if he's not ready and we have time on our side as far as when to make that move. A lot of it's up to how he does." …
*Marrone said newly-acquired defensive tackle Marcell Dareus played well in his first game Sunday, registering three tackles and a quarterback pressure while playing 12 of 37 defensive snaps. Marrone also said defensive tackle Abry Jones had his best game of the season against the run. "I was happy to see that," Marrone said. …