JACKSONVILLE – The disappointment for the moment is real.
"There's some frustration, obviously, on all levels," Doug Marrone said.
But while the Jaguars' head coach said that was true following a second consecutive loss, it's also true that there are real reasons for encouragement. The task now?
Turn those reasons into results.
"We've got to work, and we've got to get all three phases in sync," Marrone said Monday, a day after a 13-6 loss to the New Orleans Saints at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville.
Marrone on Monday talked of a team that had struggled in recent weeks to put together a "complete" game. The Jaguars a week ago allowed 285 yards rushing while playing well offensively in a 34-27 loss to the Carolina Panthers, following that with a strong defensive effort against New Orleans in a game in which the Jaguars produced their fewest points of the season.
"There are things we improve upon, then maybe we take a little step back somewhere," Marrone said. "Those are the things I'm talking to the team about: 'Hang in there, continue to work like you've been working and let's play a clean game where we're focused on ourselves in all three phases and make plays in any one of the phases.'
"That's something we didn't do [Sunday] offensively. Frustration's not going to help it. It's early in the season, and we're going to have to fight our way out of this."
The Jaguars on Sunday improved an area of major concern entering the game, holding Saints running back Alvin Kamara to 31 yards on 11 carries a week after allowing Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey 176 yards rushing and two touchdowns.
Veteran Najee Goode started in place of rookie weak-side linebacker Quincy Williams Sunday, and Marrone said the starter at the position could be a week-by-week decision.
"We really struggled the week before against the run, and in the first half [Sunday] we gave up 11 yards rushing," Marrone said. "That second level – and being at the right place and making sure we handle our gaps – is important."
One area in which the Jaguars' struggled Sunday: the passing offense, with rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew II completing 14 of 29 passes for 163 yards and no touchdowns with an interception.
Minshew threw seven touchdowns and no interceptions in his first four NFL starts the previous four weeks, but the Saints designed their defense to negate the Jaguars' top receiver – DJ Chark Jr. – and rushed Minshew to make him play mostly from the pocket and throw to the middle of the field.
"When someone does have success against you, playing a coverage, you have to make sure you do a good job (preparing for that approach), because this is a league where if they see something successful against you they do it again," Marrone said. "It's something we'll do a better job of, so Gardner will be able to recognize it.
"The faster we can make those adjustments, the better the opportunity we'll have to make plays. They did do something different than what they've shown on tape, but that happens quite a bit.
"That's where it gets into that chess match and we've always got to try to stay one step ahead."
Marrone said he expects Minshew will learn from the experience and improve.
"There are a couple of things we can do coaching-wise to help him out and implement that in the plan," Marrone said. "Overall, starting with me, we all have to do a better job. He's a young player and he's had a lot of success early on.
"If you have some success, people are going to start taking that away. People are going to start changing things up and testing you coverage-wise to see where you can go. He's a smart kid. He'll learn from it. We expect him to be able to bounce back and have a good game and play well this week.
"We're going to prepare him for everything he might see."