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Not what they wanted


This wasn't remotely what the Jaguars wanted.

It could easily be said that that first line is an understatement, and if you're saying it, no one would argue. Because in the 2012 regular-season home opener Sunday – a day of new eras and new traditions born – the already-limping Jaguars lost to the Houston Texans 27-7 in a game that really wasn't that close.

"I'm not going to say the world is falling apart, but that's really not what we want," Jaguars guard Uche Nwaneri said afterward.

The Jaguars entered Sunday's game wanting to overcome a difficult matchup.

They entered it wanting a special performance to overcome a slew of injuries along the offensive line, in the linebacking corps and in the defensive backfield.

Above all, the Jaguars entered this one wanting to fight, scrap and claw.

To say this was anything close to the performance the Jaguars wanted in the regular-season home debut of Mike Mularkey as head coach and Shad Khan as owner . . . well, no one would say that.

"Not a good showing from the very start to the very end," Mularkey called it.

Credit Mularkey for this:

He is honest in good times, and in difficult times, and in this first very difficult time of his tenure as the Jaguars' head coach it doesn't get more honest than that. This wasn't a good showing. A franchise-record low 117 yards total offense. Zero of nine third-downs converted. Seven of 19 passing for 53 yards for Blaine Gabbert, though this was a team effort and not solely about the quarterback.

Inside a quiet Jaguars locker room, the tone matched Mularkey's. This effort? The way a festive, energetic day turned somber in a hurry? It just wasn't acceptable to anyone in the locker room.

"We just didn't give ourselves a chance," said Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew, who rushed for 60 yards on 12 carries, but who didn't get as many chances as he might have with the Texans pulling away early.

"We just didn't do a good job. They didn't do anything complicated. We knew what they were going to do. We just have to execute. That first half was horrible."

The Jaguars indeed let the Texans get away quickly. It was 3-0 after one Texans drive, 10-0 after the second. By halftime, the Texans had outgained the Jaguars 242-43 and led 17-0. Mularkey at one point called the offense to the sideline and talked to them several minutes while the defense played, but aside from a brief surge in the third quarter, there was little effectiveness offensively. The Jaguars finished the game with nine first downs. They were in Texans territory twice, and only once did the Jaguars start a drive in their territory and move past midfield.

Mularkey afterward talked of "unbelievable" mental errors by the offense, particularly early as the Texans pulled away.

"With the number of mental errors we had, simple ones, that's a concern," he said. "I'll take blame for that that it's not getting across. I don't know if it was the environment or the first time, or what it was. It was absolutely unbelievable some of the things we did, especially in the top 15 plays. Anytime this has happened in my coaching career, it frustrates me. I will make sure that's cleaned up. "

Said Nwaneri, "We have to refocus. I don't think players on this team aren't focused. I just think we need to refocus on the things we can control. We did a lot of things to hurt ourselves in this game from the very first series. We just kept shooting ourselves in the foot."

The Jaguars throughout the week knew this would be a tough matchup. The Texans are considered a potential Super Bowl favorite, and they're the overwhelming favorites for a second consecutive AFC South title.

The Jaguars, meanwhile, were starting Herb Taylor – an offensive guard who hadn't started in four years – and veteran tackle Guy Whimper. They were in the lineup because five linemen who started training camp were out with injuries. That included starting guard Eben Britton and starting right tackle Cameron Bradfield.

On defense, it was no rosier. Linebacker Daryl Smith, always key and doubly so against a good running team, was out for a second consecutive game with a groin injury, and cornerback Derek Cox was out again, too.

But on this day, no one around the Jaguars wanted to talk about injuries, or who wasn't available.

"We don't care about that," Nwaneri said. "If you're in there playing, you have to play. Everybody here will tell you the same thing. Execution is what sank our ship today. We didn't execute anything."

Said defensive end Jeremy Mincey, "This is the National Football League – Next Man Up. Injuries are no excuse. Those guys outplayed us. We have to come back and get better."

That's what the players will say, and that's what needs to happen. Observers, meanwhile, will talk of doom and gloom, and about the season being lost because that's what observers do when you're 0-2.

Yet, even in a disappointed locker room Sunday, the message wasn't doom. Rather, it was focusing on the good that has come before and that the players believe will come again soon.

"We have to win the next one," Jones-Drew said. "We have 14 more opportunities. We have one guarantee next Sunday and that is going to be a good game. We will see what happens. We are going to take it one step at a time."

The Jaguars will want a significantly better performance in that game than the one that came Sunday. And that's no understatement.

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