The word: opportunities.
As Del Rio and the Jaguars saw it, there were way too many missed on Sunday.
"The biggest thing was we missed some opportunities to make some game-changing plays," Jaguars middle linebacker Paul Posluszny said Monday afternoon, a day after the Jaguars' 16-10 loss to the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte, N.C.
"We dropped a couple of interceptions, and we had an opportunity for a sack/forced fumble. We felt like that ended up being the difference in the game."
Posluszny said the Jaguars dropped two or three interceptions. Safety Drew Coleman said the number was closer to seven. Del Rio said the Jaguars missed three or four sacks and "a minimum of four or five interception opportunities."
Whatever the specifics, the consensus was an opportunity for a victory was missed.
"A lot of missed opportunities yesterday – some good, solid play and some opportunities that we just didn't take advantage of . . . some opportunities to really make game-changing kind of plays, change the outlook of the game altogether," Del Rio said, adding, "There were so many opportunities to turn that into a much different looking ballgame. Make some of the plays, the game changes dramatically."
The Jaguars' defense in terms of statistics had a third consecutive productive game Sunday. They allowed 265 total yards, and are the only team in the NFL to have held all three of its opponents under 300 yards this season. The unit currently is ranked fourth in the NFL, fifth against the run.
On Sunday, the Jaguars held Panthers rookie quarterback Cam Newton – who had thrown for more than 400 yards in each of his first two games – to 158 yards passing.
All positives, but on Sunday, Posluszny said all were positives lost in the bigger picture.
"Big interceptions, things like that, change everything," Posluszny said. "That's what we need to do defensively, look to make those big plays."
Also around the Jaguars Monday:
*Running back Maurice Jones-Drew said he's not worried about his carries decreasing should the Jaguars become more aggressive in the passing game. "I just want to win," Jones-Drew said. "I could care less what it is, I just want to win. That's all that matters. Everybody wants the ball in this league. Whatever it takes for us to win, that's what we're going to do." Jones-Drew through three games has rushed for 307 yards on 66 carries.
*Quarterback Blaine Gabbert once again took responsibility for three fumbled snaps against Carolina. "It falls on my shoulders," Gabbert said. "That's the simplest thing in football, the center-quarterback exchange, so I've got to do a better job with that – rain or shine. I have to protect the football."
*Gabbert was asked if after watching the tape he liked anything about his first NFL start. He completed 12 of 21 passes for 139 yards and a touchdown with an interception. "We made some plays, but it's tough to like anything when you don't win," Gabbert said. "There are no moral victories in this league. It boils down to wins and losses. It's a tough pill to swallow, but trust me: we'll get better."
*Jones-Drew on the Jaguars' offense: "We're the weak link now, so we've got to hold our own. That's what we're working on. It's going to take time. It's a process, but that's what we're working on. We're still working at it. We have a long ways to go."
*Jaguars wide receiver Mike Thomas said a 1-2 record hasn't changed the team's outlook: "We have a good, persevering team. Our mindset hasn't changed."
*Del Rio said special teams remains an issue, but said while punter Matt Turk has struggled to start the season there are no immediate plans to replace him. "I wouldn't say that it would be out of the realm of possibilities if it were to continue and not improve," Del Rio said. "He (Turk) has got to play better for us and I think he will. He's a veteran guy, he's been around a long time. We need him to play better and so we'll approach it from a positive standpoint and hope that it does improve." Turk had a net 31.0-yard average on six punts Sunday.
*Running back Montell Owens sustained a strained MCL Sunday and likely will be out a week or two, Del Rio said. Del Rio said no determination has been made yet on the status of players who missed Sunday's game with injuries, a group that included defensive end Aaron Kampman (knee), defensive end Matt Roth (neck), wide receiver Kassim Osgood (hamstring) and center/guard Jason Spitz (quadriceps).
*Del Rio said he believes the production of the wide receivers will increase as the Jaguars begin passing more. Through three games, veteran wide receiver Mike Thomas has 15 receptions for 139 yards and Jason Hill is second among wide receivers with give receptions for 58 yards. "You can't fairly ask for them to have production when they're not getting opportunity," Del Rio said.
*Del Rio said offensive lineman Eben Britton will remain at left guard, with Guy Whimper starting at right tackle. Britton had started his first two seasons at right tackle, and after being out with a back injury, moved into the starting lineup at guard Sunday ahead of rookie Will Rackley. "Will's done a good job but we want to play our best five," Del Rio said. "We think Eben is in that best five, a guy who's been playing well. It's a healthy situation to have. I think Eben brings some of that nastiness we like on the offensive front."
*Del Rio once again took responsibility for the Jaguars running one play in the final 16 seconds from the Panthers' 35-yard line. The Jaguars were slow coming out of the huddle when the clock began immediately after a review, and as a result, got off just one play in a situation in which Del Rio said two or three could have been run. "Like I said, that's my responsibility," Del Rio said. "I took that yesterday. I said, 'You can put it on my shoulders.' I must make sure that our staff and our eleven offensive players that are involved in that situation handle that much better; it was not acceptable. It didn't give us enough opportunities there at the end to steal that win."