JACKSONVILLE – New Monday, same message.
The Jaguars on Sunday lost their eighth consecutive game – and while Head Coach Doug Marrone said he again saw improvement in many areas, his thoughts on that improvement remained the same as they have been in recent weeks.
"There are a couple of things that are starting to increase our ability to win games," Marrone said Monday afternoon, a day after the Jaguars (1-8) lost to the 7-2 Green Bay Packers, 24-20, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisc.
"It's not increasing fast enough, but it is starting to get better."
The Jaguars, after losing five consecutive games by eight or more points, have lost their last two games – to Green Bay and Houston – by a combined six points. They had possession with a chance to tie or lead late in the final two minutes of both games.
The Jaguars took three three-point leads – two in the first half and one in the fourth quarter – against the heavily-favored Packers Sunday. The second of two potential go-ahead fourth-quarter drives reached the Green Bay 36-yard line before back-to-back sacks and an incomplete pass on 4th-and-26 with 1:01 remaining.
"There are lot of guys who are starting to step up at times – getting a little better consistency, getting the game into the fourth quarter," Marrone said. "There are still plays during the course of the game where we need to do a better job that obviously will help us at the end.
"And we obviously we want to be able to finish better than we have the last two games."
Rookie quarterback Jake Luton started a second consecutive game for the Jaguars Sunday, completing 18 of 35 passes for 169 yards and a touchdown with an interception. He completed 26 of 38 passes for 304 yards and a touchdown with an interception in his NFL debut against Houston the previous week.
Marrone said the windy conditions at in Green Bay Sunday made it difficult to compare the two performances.
"Wind's always the toughest [weather condition for quarterbacks], in my opinion," Marrone said. "You have to transition through a lot of different things on that field. You try to overthrow the football. His location wasn't as good at times, but that's another tough situation to put someone in.
"I thought he made a couple of really nice throws. He's a young guy and he's coming along. I wouldn't say it (his performance) dropped down. With the conditions the way they were, I'm happy with the way he's progressing. He's doing everything he can. I can't really ask for more.
"When these opportunities come up, he has taken advantage of it."
Marrone on Monday said he doesn't expect Gardner Minshew II, the starting quarterback in the first seven games of the season, to play against the Pittsburgh Steelers (9-0) Sunday. Marrone said Minshew, who has missed the last two games with a right thumb injury, could throw in practice this week.
"He won't be ready, so Jake will be playing," Marrone said.
Marrone on Monday said he expects reserve running back Chris Thompson to be placed on injured reserve with a back injury sustained Sunday. He said center Brandon Linder (back) should return this week with rookie wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr.'s status more uncertain this week because of a hamstring injury. Marrone also said linebacker Dakota Allen (ankle), defensive tackle Doug Costin (concussion) and running back Devine Ozigbo (hamstring) should return to practice this week.
Marrone on rookie defensive tackle DaVon Hamilton, who registered his first NFL sack Sunday: "I like him. He's a hell of a player. … He's a big guy and he's active. He can make plays that are moving around him. Every game now you're starting to see him make plays. I think you're going to see a lot of production out of him. I think he's going to be consistent as long as he stays healthy for a pretty good period of time."