JACKSONVILLE – The situation is difficult, if not entirely unexpected.
Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone said the focus during such a time should be not on the past but on what happens next.
"When you have a young team, there's going to be challenges," Marrone said Monday morning, four days after a 31-13 prime-time loss to the Miami Dolphins at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville.
"What I try to do is make sure, 'Hey, what are we focusing in on?'"
Marrone, speaking to the media on a videoconference as the Jaguars (1-2) began preparing to play the Cincinnati Bengals (0-2-1) at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati Sunday, said basics will be a priority this week.
"We need to focus on, 'Are we in position, the right position where we want to be?''' Marrone said. "And, 'Are we doing what we're supposed to do from a technique standpoint?'"
The Jaguars, after a 27-20 Week 1 victory over the Indianapolis Colts and a 33-30 Week 2 loss at unbeaten Tennessee, sustained their most one-sided loss of the season Thursday – continuing a season-long trend of slow defensive starts. The Jaguars allowed touchdowns on the first three Miami possessions, with 35 of their opponents' 82 points this season coming in the first quarter.
The Jaguars rallied from four deficits in Week 1 and tied Tennessee in the fourth quarter after trailing by 14, but never got closer than seven against Miami after the first quarter. Marrone said the key to improving performance with a young team is to "keep it very precise."
"You don't want to be too broad where there are too many things," he said. "Those are the things I'm really looking for out of this team and the coaches these next couple of days, and then obviously: 'Let's go play. Let's see if we can make a play.'
"If we're in position and we're using the right technique, then we should be able to make some plays. And I think that will help our team and help us get better."
Marrone on Monday also discussed the challenge of maintaining a calm approach during an NFL season of extreme results – and extreme reaction to those results.
"I try to go back to this foundation and really kind of refocus," he said. "One of the difficulties when you go through a season, especially early on – and it doesn't matter whether you're older or younger; everyone handles things differently – is everything's so extreme of what goes on in the beginning. You win and, 'Oh my gosh all of a sudden, it's one way.' If you lose, it's another.
"There's so much talk that goes on that it challenges you to stay focus and it pulls you away from maybe some of the things you need to focus on to get better. That's sort of what I spoke to the team about today. That's what I've seen I my career and that's what I believe.
"It's up to me to keep these guys with that focus where we can keep getting better each day and have a better performance Sunday to win."
Marrone said the Jaguars plan to work out veteran kickers Monday, declining to provide names until they arrived at the facility. "We had to wait a couple of days because of the [COVID-19] protocols," Marrone said. Rookie free-agent kicker Brandon Wright was not expected to practice Monday and will work with trainers Tuesday; Wright sustained a groin injury Thursday while making his NFL debut in place of veteran Josh Lambo (hip), who was placed on injured reserve last Wednesday. "If we feel we can upgrade ourselves – or if we don't feel Brandon is going to be able to recover – obviously we may make some moves," Marrone said, adding of Lambo: "It's unfortunate he had that injury. He's very consistent. He works extremely hard. He's off crutches. He's walking around. We'll work on rehab and try to get him back as soon as we can."
Center Brandon Linder (knee) and safety Andrew Wingard (core) were expected to work on the side in practice Monday, Marrone said. The team was awaiting testing results regarding wide receiver DJ Chark Jr., who missed Thursday's loss with a chest/back injury. "As soon as those [results] come back, we'll be ready to go," Marrone said.
Marrone on discussed rookie cornerback CJ Henderson, who had an interception and three passes defensed against Indianapolis but who has struggled at times since. "When he's done that [been in the right position and playing the right technique], he has played at an extremely high level," Marrone said. "Just trying to develop a confidence about it so you can do it play in and play out. It's a difficult position to play because you have to play 60 snaps full speed all the time for a possibility of four plays. It's that type of mentality. He has all the ability in the world. We have all the confidence in him. We're just going to keep working with him and getting him better because he can be that guy who can lock somebody down. That's why we drafted him."