He has said it before, and this week Maurice Jones-Drew said it again.
Jones-Drew, the Jaguars' two-time Pro Bowl running back, has been consistent throughout what now officially has become a difficult, frustrating season that despite that being true, he believes certain things about the 2011 Jaguars.
One is that the team isn't bad, record notwithstanding.
The other? That this is a team that will fight, scrape and claw – and not only that, it's a team that will work to prepare to do those things.
Jones-Drew has said that since September, and with the Jaguars now at 3-9 he said it's no less true, even facing a final month of the season with injuries, change and the future as prevailing themes.
Now, Jones-Drew said the time has come that will test his stance.
"You learn a lot from losing," Jones-Drew said as the Jaguars prepared to play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at EverBank Field in downtown Jacksonville Sunday at 1 p.m.
"We say we have a lot high character guys on this team. Well, we're going to see because losing makes that character come out, who you really are. Everybody can be all happy go-lucky when you're winning so we'll see what kind of workers we have.
"As I've seen so far, guys are busting their butts to do everything they can to get back and be ready to play."
The Jaguars, after victories in two of three games around a November bye, were 3-6 following a 17-3 victory over the Colts November 13, and still holding faint hopes of a late-season run.
Since then, the Jaguars have lost three games, and after playing the Cleveland Browns and Houston Texans tough, they led the San Diego Chargers 14-10 late in the second quarter before an injury-plagued defense allowed three rapid-fire touchdowns in a 38-14 prime-time loss.
The Chargers loss came in the wake of a dizzying week around EverBank Field, with Owner Wayne Weaver announcing the proposed sale of the team to Illinois businessman Shad Khan, the extension of General Manager Gene Smith's contract and the firing of head coach Jack Del Rio the same day. Also that week, wide receivers coach Johnny Cox was fired and starting wide receiver Jason Hill was released, with quarterbacks coach Mike Sheppard moving to wide receivers and offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter taking on quarterback-coaching duties.
This past week marked a return to something closer to normal, but while the week lacked the chaotic feel of the previous week, middle linebacker Paul Posluszny said the players remain aware of an urgency.
"Trust me, with the situation we're in, we all want to win," said Posluszny, who leads the Jaguars with 149 tackles. "With the level of competition we're at, we want to play at a high level and win, but we know there are a lot of things going on.
"We're really pulling together because we need a win now."
The task has become more difficult in recent weeks. Not only has the Jaguars' offense scored 14 or fewer points in nine of 12 games this season, but in recent weeks, injuries have hit a defense that throughout the season has been one of the NFL's best.
Three defensive starters – cornerback Rashean Mathis, cornerback Derek Cox and linebacker Clint Session – are on injured reserve, and defensive end Aaron Kampman and cornerback Will Middleton also are on the season-ending list. Starting defensive end Matt Roth is out again Sunday with a concussion and safety Dwight Lowery is questionable with a shoulder injury.
If Lowery can't play, safety Dawan Landry will be the only starter left in the secondary six days after the Chargers scored more points against the Jaguars than any team this season.
"Obviously coming off of a loss like we did on Monday night, we have no choice but to come back and try to get that taste out of our mouth," Jones-Drew said. "We've just got to figure out a way to win at the end of the day. The defense has been playing great all year. They had one not so good game and as an offense we didn't pick up our play and help them out.
"As an offense we have to score more than 14 points, you're just not going to win like that in this league. We've just got to find a way to score points and win games."
Tucker, entering his second game as the interim coach, said the preparation this week was as it was the week before. He said practices were crisp, with good tempo and he said he liked the mindset.
"My message to the team is that the things that we're doing and will continue to do give us the best chance to win and win consistently," Tucker said. "We didn't last week, but that doesn't mean that the things that we're doing are not correct.
"It's the worst part of this game, is losing at the end of the day. You want to win, regardless if you win by one touchdown or one point or you win by one hundred. The guys in this locker room, like I said after the game, there are no frontrunners on this team. No one is going to point fingers. No one is going to shut it down or try not to play.
"We're going to keep playing until we figure this thing out, and we've got four more games to do it."
Jones-Drew agreed, and said while there is an element of wanting to win for the respected, well-liked Tucker, "I think we all want to win one for ourselves as well."
"Three-and-nine is nothing you want to walk around town proud about," Jones-Drew said. "We've just got to figure out a way to get things going and once we get those things going, just try to keep it there."