The bye week, while really needed, is really over.
As of Wednesday, the Jaguars officially were back to work, which meant preparing for the Oakland Raiders. And while it also meant a slightly different routine, Jaguars Head Coach Mike Mularkey said the approach and the stance remains essentially the same.
The Jaguars need to make plays. They need to play better, and do so more consistently.
If they do that, yes, they can win.
"I feel like if we can put together some of the things we've done in these five games, I think we have a chance," Mularkey said Wednesday as the Jaguars (1-4) prepared to play the Raiders (1-4) at Oakland-Alameda Coliseum Sunday 4:25 p.m.
"But we need to do that."
The Jaguars, after a victory over Indianapolis in Week 3, lost their last two games before the bye by a combined 68-13 at home, losing 27-10 to Cincinnati and 41-3 to Chicago. They then practiced twice before a four-day, league-mandated bye weekend, and worked Monday.
"We needed it bad," Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew said of the bye. "It's the NFL, so after five games a lot of guys are banged up. Mentally, you're in at 6 a.m. and leaving at 5 (p.m.), so it's taxing. It's good to get that week in, but now we have a long stretch of games here starting off with Oakland.
"It's going to be a tough task for us, but we have to go out and play well, do our job the best we can, and have fun doing it."
Wednesday marked the official beginning of preparation for Oakland, and for players, it marked the beginning of a phase of the season which they believe can be improved.
"It's always nice to relax," Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert said. "We had two great practices, then got a chance to wind down and get some rest. We just have to control the things we can control, execute on offense and eliminate our mistakes that have been killing our drives.
"We did a lot of studying over the break, focusing on the little things and getting back to the basics."
The Jaguars coming out of the bye also altered their schedule somewhat. Mularkey said he's having the players report later in the morning in an effort to get more rest, and he said there also will be some adjustments in terms of scheme and game-planning.
"I don't know if they're major, but there are slight changes," Mularkey said.
Mularkey, whose first team in Buffalo in 2004 began the season 0-4 before finishing 9-7 and a game out of the playoffs, said for the most part the plan is to focus on improving, and doing the things the Jaguars have done well better. A theme of Mularkey's in the weeks leading to the bye was the need for players to make plays, and he said that continues to be an emphasis.
"These aren't unbelievable plays," he said. "They're just routine plays we need to be able to make. We recognize that we know what to do."
Mularkey said he would like to see the Jaguars' record if they had made more plays during the first five games.
"I think you've seen the result if we don't make the plays," Mularkey said. "You're not giving yourself a chance to compete for 60 minutes if we don't make the plays."
Guard Uche Nwaneri said part of the Jaguars' work during the bye week was about reviewing film and determining why a team that believed it would be improved from a 5-11 record last season lost three home games by double digits.
"The times where we struggled we were off by a little bit here, or a little bit there," Nwaneri said. "The times where we were successful everybody was on the same page. It's something we repeat a lot, but at the end of the day, when everybody's on the same page and everybody's focused on the details, the plays look a lot better than they do when one person's off on a block here, or one person doesn't look like they understand exactly what their responsibility was. Those are things that can be corrected."
The Jaguars also will have a new look at some positions Sunday. Wide receiver Cecil Shorts, who has the team's two longest touchdown receptions this season – 80 yards against Indianapolis and 38 yards against Minnesota – is likely to start in place of Laurent Robinson, who as of Wednesday remained in the team's concussion program.
Linebacker Daryl Smith also could return after missing the first five games with a groin injury, with end George Selvie a possibility to return from a knee injury that has kept him out three games. Defensive end John Chick, while still on the Physically Unable to Perform list, returned to practice and could be activated any time in the next three weeks.
But Mularkey's focus on Wednesday remained more on having the players who are on the field perform better than they did in the first five games. He said he believes that's not only needed, but also very possible.
"It's just a trust factor," he said. "That's why we're in this business – to make those kinds of plays. We're doing everything we can schematically in all three phases to put our guys in a position to make those kinds of plays.
"I wish I could tell you why we've had the number of drops we've had on offense and defense, but I trust that it will get fixed and that guys will be able to do it without having to press."