Head coach Jack Del Rio agrees with his starting quarterback that three games into the preseason should not be a time to panic, but Del Rio also told reporters on Sunday the time for alibis is nearing an end.
"You don't want to get too carried away, good or bad, with how things go in the preseason," Del Rio said. "Certainly you get indicators throughout camp and throughout the preseason games in terms of what you can expect. I don't think you can just discount everything. We've put in a lot of work and we do feel like we've made improvement and I think the regular season is the proving time.
"I think that's where things become much more important, much more magnified. Whether it's good or whether it's bad, once you get into the regular season, there really are no alibis. It's time to get it done and we feel like we're on track to get it done. We feel like we've got a good football team and that we're going to have some good days out here on Sundays," Del Rio added.
The Jaguars returned to practice on Sunday following Thursday's 21-13 win in Green Bay. Though it was a victory – the Jaguars are 2-1 in the preseason – it was received by fans as a defeat because the first-team offense failed to score in a little more than a half of action.
Leftwich, of course, is the target of the fans' ire. Leftwich completed just six of 16 passes for 67 yards, and his replacement, David Garrard, rallied the Jaguars to two touchdown drives in the process of achieving a perfect passer rating.
"You can't let it affect you, especially in the preseason," Leftwich said of fan criticism. "The fans were disappointed. They wanted us to put up 20, 30 points and we wanted to put up 20, 30 points. It didn't happen. I just want them to understand that everything is going to be OK. It doesn't matter if we win or play great in all four of these preseason games. It doesn't matter until week one.
"You want to play better than we did last week, but we didn't. We understand when you don't play well in the preseason you kind of get a mulligan. We only have one more mulligan before we get ready to play in week one," he added.
Leftwich seemed to be addressing fans when he said: "Don't panic. This is not the time to panic in the preseason. It's too early to panic. Let us get out there for a few games and then judge us; week three or week four, then judge us on what you really see. Once it all gets started, then that is what we are; by the third or fourth game that is going to be what we are. Everybody relax and let us get this thing rolling in week one and let us see what happens."
Del Rio confirmed that Leftwich will see very little action on Thursday in the preseason finale against Washington. The first-team offense and defense aren't likely to play more than one series.
"Basically, this week we're not going to show a whole lot or do a whole lot extraordinary. I think for us we want to continue to evaluate, so in many cases we'll keep things fairly simple so we can simply evaluate the players. Rather than getting into trying to scheme somebody at this point, we're really more interested in one-on-one match-ups. We're looking to get our final look, final peek at who we think can make our roster," Del Rio said.
Del Rio has to cut the team to 75 by Tuesday, but this round of cuts isn't expected to create much anxiety. The Jaguars placed linebacker Tony Gilbert on the injured reserve list with a biceps injury, assigned defensive end Brian Smith (hip) to the PUP (Physically Unable to Perform) list and waived kicker Aaron Elling.
The Jaguars are having to deal with a rash of injuries at linebacker – Clint Ingram (ankle) and Pat Thomas (hamstring) still can't practice – and the team has signed former first-round pick Chris Claiborne and linebacker Kevis Coley. The Jaguars also signed defensive tackle Joe Anoai. Those moves put the Jaguars roster at 86. The Jaguars will have to cut 11 players from their roster by four p.m. on Tuesday.
"Have I seen everything I need to see? Well, I've seen everything I'm going to see," Del Rio said. "I think what I need to see I can't possibly see until the regular season, when I do need to see certain things."