JACKSONVILLE – Tashaun Gipson stated the obvious Monday.
The Jaguars have lost five consecutive games, which the Jaguars' free safety said leaves the team little choice but to improve.
"As cliché as it may sound, there's only one way to go for this team right now," he said. "Our backs are truly, truly against the wall."
Gipson, speaking a day after a 29-26 loss to the Indianapolis Colts extended the Jaguars' losing streak to five games, said there's an obvious first step toward that improvement:
Stopping the assignment errors that have plagued the defense in recent weeks, errors that on Sunday led to one of its worst halves in recent memory.
"I guess that's the most mind-blowing, head-scratching thing," Gipson said. "It's not like teams are going out there and just delivering a beating. You can take that. That's more acceptable. Those guys get paid, too, but blown coverages are unacceptable. …
"We're talking about any professional team; you just can't have guys blowing wide open like that. That was the tale of the half. … It came back and haunted us."
The Colts scored 29 first-half points with 306 yards. Quarterback Andrew Luck threw three first-half touchdown passes – two to tight end Eric Ebron and one to tight end Mo Alie-Cox. Five of Luck's completions of 20 or more yards came in the first half.
"Talking to the players, they're trying to get it," Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone said of the missed assignments. "We have to help them figure out why is there any confusion. We've got to do a good job of making sure during the week what routes they're running out of what splits. We've done a hell of a job before. We have to make sure it's communicated and known."
Gipson said the Jaguars "gifted" the Colts three first-half touchdowns in a performance he repeatedly called "unacceptable."
"It's total brain [fades]," Gipson said. "You're looking guys running wild in coverages we've been playing here for the first four years. Even back in 2016, we weren't a great football team, but there weren't this many consecutive busts week in and week out.
"The busts came up in the Dallas game (a 40-7 Jaguars loss in Week 6) and they've just been a recurring theme since then. What to do about it? I don't know. It's hard to blame coaching for busts, but everybody has to be accountable in this thing – for sure."
Gipson said Sunday's weren't a case of players freelancing.
"You watch the tape, it's guys literally not knowing where to be," he said. "Yesterday was just complete brain [fades] and things that shouldn't happen to a professional football team – let alone a defense that prides itself on being the best."
Ebron not only caught a 53-yard touchdown pass while wide open on the Colts' first drive, he caught a 12-yard second-quarter touchdown pass wide open in the end zone. Several Jaguars defenders appeared confused before the snap on the 12-yarder.
"That play right there – that's inexcusable to give up a wide-open touchdown like that," Gipson said. "His first touchdown and his third touchdown were pretty tough to handle. It's plays like that pretty much are the story of our season."
Gipson also was asked if pre-snap communication was a problem.
"You call the call," he said. "Coach (defensive coordinator Todd) Wash, he keeps the game plan simple. We'll be in man, four or thirds. There's not too much communicating. Those are the three calls we pride ourselves on. We've played them to excellence, especially last year. There are only so many communications you can go through …. These are basic coverages that we've been playing our whole lives.
"When we hear the call, we know exactly the call. It's not like he's giving us an exotic call that we haven't experienced. I can't explain that. … It's a guy out there maybe lost in the moment for a guy to be wide open. At the end of the day, those type of things can't happen.
"When you get that call, that's the call you play. We know everybody's assignment in there. Guys have to go out there and do it."
The Jaguars (3-6) have lost five consecutive games since a 31-12 Week 4 victory over the New York Jets. They are in fourth place in the AFC South.
"We all complained last week about getting flexed out of Sunday that a lot of guys are looking forward to," Gipson said, referring to the NFL moving Sunday's home game against the Pittsburgh Steelers from an 8:20 Sunday Night Football national time slot to a 1 p.m. regional broadcast.
"But who would want to watch the Jaguars play football the way we're playing right now?" Gipson added. "That's tough, because I've been on terrible teams. I've been on teams that when you're 3-6 you're like, 'That's a lot better than I thought we would be nine games in.'
"The feeling right now is tough on a lot of guys because this is not a 3-6 team. We're much better than 3-6, but we're playing like 3-6 and our record says 3-6 and we are 3-6. But this is not truly a 3-6 in my heart. That's what makes it a lot tougher."