JACKSONVILLE – The Jaguars got an extra day of work Monday.
Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley calls it "Bonus Monday," meaning an extra day to meet and practice coming off the bye week.
When players met with the media on that day for the first time in five days, their message remained the same: As they look ahead to the final six weeks of the 2014 season, the Jaguars feel they're closer than many observers perhaps believe.
The next six games? They are a chance to show it.
"We're getting better," tight end Marcedes Lewis said Monday, six days before the Jaguars (1-9) are scheduled to play the Indianapolis Colts (6-4) at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis Sunday at 1 p.m.
"It's not a situation where we're getting trampled. We'll start fast, come out striking, then be faced with adversity … We have to figure out ways to be resilient and bounce back. At times where games have turned around it's been because we haven't been able to bounce back.
"It's important we stay the course, keep doing what we're doing and hopefully things will turn around."
The Jaguars, after a 24-6 victory over Cleveland in Week 7, lost their final three games before the bye, playing Miami and Cincinnati close into the second half before losing, then trailing Dallas by 24 points before losing 31-17 in Week 10 at Wembley Stadium in London.
Players were visibly upset following the Dallas game. Two days later – during their only media availability of the bye week – they echoed what Bradley said the same day, that while improving daily remained important, a next step that included playing at a high level more consistently needed to be taken.
Bradley said Monday's team meeting included a bit of "State of the Union," with coaches telling players what they learned after a week of self-scouting and analysis.
"A lot of it came back to turnovers and getting takeaways offensively and defensively, but it was very good," Bradley said. "It was very challenging."
Bradley said whereas the Jaguars were first in the NFL in third-and-2 and 3 situations last season, they are 30th through 10 games this season.
"It flipped on us," he said. "Sometimes, those things happen, but you look at everything."
Bradley also said explosive plays allowed defensively stood out when reviewing the first 10 games, as did missed tackles, missed coverages and other "self-inflicted" mistakes.
"We are going to watch them with the team so we can address it," Bradley said.
Bradley said reviewing the first 10 games found a similar trend offensively, with the team moving effectively at times but struggling to finish drives.
"I think we've had like ten turnovers from the 35 in," Bradley said. "It's hard enough to go 80 yards and drive down there but we've got some things where we're taking points off the board when we have turnovers like that."
Bradley said achieving consistency in that area will be a focus.
"For the players what I'd like to see from them is consistency where we're moving the ball and driving the ball and the self-inflicted wounds leave our game," he said. "I don't know where that will put us but I do know that it will feel better and look better and give us an opportunity. I think that's what they're really striving to get done because they're seeing glimpses of it. … It's like we have these things that pop up that keep us from finishing. I think that's what's frustrating for the guys more than anything."
Lewis and other veterans said Monday they continue to believe the team is close to turning the close losses into victories, and that the only approach is to continue to work.
"The bottom line is it's a performance-based business, and the bottom line is we have to get out there and take care of our business," Lewis said. "Whatever we can control, we have to do a better job of controlling those things and figure out a way to get this tide going the other way."
Said defensive tackle Roy Miller, "Coming off the bye, we feel fresh. We want to finish strong. We have the same mentality, that we have to take it one week at a time. There's another set of optimism for us that we can become the team we want to be. That's what we're looking forward to and want to fight for."
Also on Monday:
*Bradley said wide receiver Marqise Lee continues to practice well. Bradley said before the bye the rookie had had his best two weeks of practice, and he said he had another good practice Monday. "He's showing his competitiveness," Bradley said. "I think it's just his mindset and he's really taking advantage of this opportunity." Lee's opportunity is coming in the wake of a season-ending injury to rookie Allen Robinson, who is expected to undergo foot surgery this week. With Robinson out, Bradley on Monday said rookie Allen Hurns and veteran Cecil Shorts III will start, but that Lee will move into the third receiver role. …
*Bradley also addressed the bye-week release of linebacker Dekoda Watson, who signed as a free agent in the offseason to play Otto linebacker but started just one game. Watson missed the entire offseason and much of training camp with a groin injury. "It was unfortunate the injuries that he had that took place," Bradley said. "We got him in there on some third downs setting the edge but I think just the reps he didn't get enough of them, because of some of the injuries, to perform what we had hoped." …