The Jaguars have yet another obstacle this week.
As if figuring a way to end a four-game losing streak – and doing it against the Pittsburgh Steelers – wasn't challenge enough, Jaguars Head Coach Jack Del Rio said Monday a major factor this week will be ignoring noise and criticism from outsiders.
It's not easy, Del Rio said. But he said whatever the nature of the criticism it absolutely must be done.
"We're looking for things we can do better," Del Rio said Monday, a day after the Jaguars gave up a four-point fourth-quarter lead in a 30-20 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals at EverBank Field Sunday.
"We're doing our best to ignore some of the comments and those things that have nothing to do with us playing well – that are a part of your (the media's) job, not part of ours. I think guys are doing well with that, but certainly that becomes a challenge, just as getting ready for the next opponent becomes a challenge."
The Jaguars, who out-gained the Bengals 296-239 Sunday, took a 20-16 lead late Sunday when rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert found wide receiver Jason Hill for a 74-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter.
But the Bengals retook the lead just after the two-minute warning after a drive that began at the Jaguars' 23. That drive was set up by a 22-yard punt by veteran Matt Turk.
Turk's punt was one of several early and late mistakes that cost the Jaguars Sunday. Rookie Cecil Shorts failed to field a fourth-quarter punt that rolled past him and out of bounds at the 2. Veteran center Brad Meester snapped the ball past Gabbert on 3rd-and-1 from the Jaguars 42 with just over a minute remaining.
In the first half, the Jaguars twice had 1st-and-goal inside the Bengals 5, settling for field goals of 19 and 20 yards by kicker Josh Scobee.
The ending made for post-game frustration, and outside criticism, but when Del Rio met the media Monday he said whatever the criticism he believes the Jaguars will improve and "get things going the right way."
"I like this team – I've told you that," Del Rio said. "We've got good character. We've got good people. That hasn't changed. I've told you how I feel about my own self. I know who I am. I know what I believe in. You do things the right way. You do them with integrity. You keep the faith.
"That's what allows you to have a chance in this work. That's what allows you to have a chance in this game. That's what I believe in. I believe you see that throughout our locker room and throughout our roster. That part I'm proud of. "
Also on Monday, Del Rio said:
*The Bengals did not get the play off in time on 4th-and-6 from the Jaguars 19 on their go-ahead drive. Rookie quarterback Andy Dalton completed a nine-yard, first-down-converting pass to tight end Jermaine Gresham, and Cincinnati scored the go-ahead touchdown three plays later. Del Rio said he did not challenge the play because "I was told at the time what we thought, but until I could go back and look at it, it's hard to confirm it. I didn't feel like I could burn a timeout in that situation."
*Defensive end Jeremy Mincey played his best game of the season Sunday, finishing with a sack and four quarterback hurries. "He played well yesterday," Del Rio said. "Our front's playing well."
- Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green beat cornerback Rashean Mathis on the first-quarter play on which Green scored a 37-yard touchdown on 3rd-and-17. Del Rio said the play was not the responsibility of the safety.
*The Jaguars will work out punters this week, but said no decision has yet been made on the future of Turk. Turk punted seven times Sunday for a net of 31.6 yards with a long of 56 yards. "When you have seven punts on the day and one of them's good, that's not going to work for you," Del Rio said.
*A second-half sack allowed by left tackle Eugene Monroe was less about the shoulder injury he sustained and more about technique. "I would say the thing that caused that sack was an overstep: allowing the guy to come under him, to come to his inside," Del Rio said. "That's been the problem on just about every one of the sacks he has given up in his career here. That's a problem he has to correct. He's so athletic he tends to skip out past a guy and oversteps a little bit. When he does that, he's vulnerable to that move."
*No decision has been made on whether to keep Shorts on punt returns. "I think we can do a better job of giving him some blocking, giving him some room to run," Del Rio said. "Anybody who's back there has to make decisions. There's more to that phase that needs to be evaluated than just Cecil Shorts. He's a young guy who hasn't made every decision perfectly, but I don't think it's accurate to lay it all on him, and I'm not doing that. We'll continue to evaluate that and see if we can't do a better job."
*Gabbert continues to develop as hoped. "If you really look at the tape, you've got to be excited about what you're seeing," Del Rio said. "He's made some great throws."
*He doesn't believe the off-season lockout is a reason for the 1-4 record. "To me, that's kind of old news," Del Rio said. "I have not given any thought to those types of considerations."