The effects of yesterday's 21-19 loss in Dallas were etched on Tom Coughlin's face and in his tone of voice when he met with reporters at noon today.
"He was fighting his tail off to get into the end zone," Coughlin said of running back Fred Taylor, who fumbled the ball away at the Cowboys one-yard line as Taylor appeared to be headed for a touchdown that would've cut the Cowboys' lead to 21-19 early in the fourth quarter. The Cowboys recovered in the end zone.
"How come they get the ball back? We had a guy right there. Sometimes you have to make up for things like that. When you don't, you get beat in games you shouldn't lose," Coughlin added.
The Jaguars have not made enough plays to overcome their deficiencies this season. As a result, they have fallen two games off Indianapolis' AFC South lead, with only five games remaining to be played.
"In order for us to win, we have to play as well as we can play, with consistency, week in and week out," Coughlin said in repeating his season-long mantra.
The Jaguars coach would not agree that his team's margin of error is less than that of other teams, the result of massive offseason personnel moves that depleted the Jaguars roster. But most would agree the Jaguars are not a powerful enough team to overcome fumbles and missed field goal attempts. In Dallas Sunday, Taylor's fumble and Tim Seder's miss from 41 yards accounted for nine points that would've overcome the Cowboys' two-point win.
"There's no question we've had problems there," Coughlin said of the placekicking situation, which began with the release of rookie Hayden Epstein in late October. Seder replaced Epstein but has offered only marginal improvement (eight of 12) in field goal accuracy.
"That's my responsibility and I take full responsibility for it," Coughlin said of the kicking situation. He added that he would "spend some time on that" this week, which may mean the Jaguars will change kickers for the third time this season.
But Coughlin seemed to be most upset at his passing game, especially an inability to get the ball to open receivers in the end zone in the two plays previous to Seder's miss from 41 yards in the second quarter.
And Coughlin was outraged by his defense having allowed the Cowboys a 99-yard touchdown drive that staked the Cowboys to a 14-5 lead in the third quarter.
"We lost our poise … with our false starts; there were five of them. We lost our poise. We lost our discipline. We're wasting timeouts and that has to change. I'd like to be able to solve our problems over the ball a little faster and communicate a little better," Coughlin added.