JACKSONVILLE – Monday’s message around the Jaguars was clear.
Consider it heard.
“This week is about fundamentals,” veteran cornerback D.J. Hayden said Monday afternoon as Jaguars players returned from their 2018 bye weekend.
The key to snapping a four-game, season-threatening losing streak?
“Just get back to the basics of everything so we can go out here and do our jobs at a high level … just get back to the basics … be a pro … just come to work, do your job and take care of business,” Hayden continued.
Such was the post-bye tone around TIAA Bank Field Monday.
How do the Jaguars return to the form they showed during a 3-1 start to the 2018 season? How do they not only win for the first time since late September, but get back to playing well enough to make a serious postseason push?
Head Coach Doug Marrone on Monday said it was about playing better from a “technique standpoint,” rearranging the team’s practice schedule for the remainder of the season with an eye toward addressing that area.
“We didn’t make changes just to make change,” Marrone said. “Hopefully, that stuff will carry onto the field, because we’re not obviously playing very well right now.”
Marrone said he increased the time allotted for the team’s morning walkthrough practice, and moved their regular daily practice to 1 p.m. He said the move will help nutritionally as well, allowing players to eat breakfast and lunch before practice.
“There were a lot of things that went into it – but all things for a reason: to help us get better,” Marrone said. “We changed some of the schedule … the things we do during practice. Things we’re not doing well, things we need to work on – we put that into the practice schedule.
“We’re sticking with it. That’s what we’re going to do for the rest of the season. It’s not change to change. It’s change for a specific outcome of what we need done.”
Marrone, as he did throughout October, on Monday took responsibility for the team’s recent struggles. After talking last week of evaluating everything about the first half of the season, starting with himself, Marrone on Monday was asked about that self-evaluation.
“I did a good enough job for us to be 3-5,” he said, adding that his top priority during the bye week was “being honest with myself.”
“The team’s 3-5, OK?” he added. “What I want to do is make sure that I get everything right, build it right, get the coaches right so that I don’t have to stand up here and say, ‘Hey, it’s my fault.’ I’m responsible for it. I’ve got to do a good job.
“I want to make sure I’m doing everything I can to give everyone else an opportunity to do well. If I don’t do that, we’ll all fail and that’s it.”
The Jaguars will visit the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium Sunday at 1 p.m.
“I told the team today, ‘Before we can talk about winning the quarter you’ve to win the first one,’’’ Marrone said. “How do you get on a run? Well, you have to win. Don’t worry about the run. Just get the win. I just want to make sure I’m clear with the players on that, so they don’t look ahead. You’ve got to get the win first.”
*Marrone acknowledged the passing of former Jaguars guard Vincent Manuwai, remembering working out Manuwai in advance of the 2003 NFL Draft. Marrone was with the New York Jets at the time and worked out Manuwai and other University of Hawaii prospects in California. “In my younger days, I’d get in the drills and hold the bags,” Marrone said with a smile. “Vince knocked me right on my ass. It went viral and all the other line coaches were like, ‘I can’t believe that …’ I said, ‘That guy’s strong.’ He was a tough son of a gun – strong and powerful. It’s a shame when you see people lose their lives at such a young age. My thoughts and prayers are with him. He’s linked to me for knocking me on my ass.” Manuwai, 38, died Sunday in his hometown of Honolulu, Hawaii.
*Marrone’s media availability Monday ran from around 12:15 to 12:30, ending shortly before the NFL announced that the Jaguars’ November 18 home game against the Pittsburgh Steelers had been “flexed” from its original 8:20 p.m. nationally-televised time slot on NBC to 1 p.m. on CBS. Marrone was asked if the Jaguars deserved a prime-time game. “No,” he said.