Play-calling was the major topic of conversation at Monday's press conference and head coach Jack Del Rio did not balk at the suggestion the Jaguars should call more running plays.
"I like the idea of getting Fred (Taylor) more touches. We'll look to run the football and be good at it," Del Rio said.
Taylor rushed for 147 yards on 22 carries – a 6.7 yards per carry average – in Sunday's 27-16 loss to the Minnesota Vikings. Del Rio said the game plan was for Taylor to reach the 25-carries mark. "We need to get him those extra three," the coach added.
That prompted a reporter to ask: "Why not get Taylor 30 carries? Why not run the ball 50 times?"
Del Rio nodded his head and said, "Yeah."
The Jaguars have rushed for 544 yards in the last three games, since Del Rio announced in the Jaguars' bye week the team would re-dedicate itself to the running game. Taylor has reached the 100-yard mark in each of those three games but hasn't hit the 25-carries mark at any time this season.
"If you have a large number of carries, it normally means you're in control of the game," Del Rio said. "If you advertise you're going to run the ball, there are some loaded boxes waiting for you and there are some opportunities with play-action.
"I've got to let my coordinators have an opportunity to call their game. We will continue to work at it. I don't want to micro-manage every play-call. You have to let guys do their job. That's what we've done and that's what we'll continue to do," Del Rio said.
At 6-5, the Jaguars begin a week that will conclude with a nationally-televised game against the 10-1 Pittsburgh Steelers. It's a game that will draw the largest crowd of the season to Alltel Stadium, and it's a game the Jaguars must win if they are to have any chance of making the playoffs.
"With a red-hot Steelers team coming in it should be real easy to get focus," Del Rio said.
The Jaguars, however, are not in the best of health. Defensive end Rob Meier suffered a broken fibula when he was cut-blocked in the second half on Sunday and will undergo surgery on Tuesday. Meanwhile, the Jaguars will work out prospects to replace Meier on the roster.
"We'll need to add somebody," Del Rio said.
Tight end Kyle Brady and kick-returner Jermaine Lewis sustained concussions in Minnesota. It is the second concussion in a month for Lewis and Del Rio said it's possible Lewis could be advised to sit out the remainder of the season.
Cornerback Juran Bolden continues to be hobbled by a groin injury and defensive tackle Marcus Stroud is playing on a sore knee.
This is clearly a gut-check week for the Jaguars.
"All in all, I think the morale is pretty good. We understand we've earned where we are right now. We play hard, we compete and we'll play against anybody. We'll be back at it on Wednesday," Del Rio said.
The offense is likely to receive the lion's share of attention in practice this week. "We just plain need more points. We've got to find a way to generate more points," Del Rio said.
Though an increased workload for Taylor would seem likely, it's also important to note the Steelers have the number one defense in the league and are also number one against the run.
"I'm really pleased with the way we're running the football. There are some good things we want to build on. It's a matter of playing well enough to give ourselves an opportunity, but the window of opportunity is closing," he said.
The Jaguars remain a wild-card playoff contender and they hold out hope they could make the playoffs with 10 wins. They must win all three of their remaining games against AFC opponents, however, since conference record would be the top tie-breaker in a multiple-teams scenario or against a team the Jaguars haven't played. Should the Jaguars find themselves head-to-head in a tie-breaker with the Broncos, the Jaguars would win by virtue of their week-two victory.
"Yes, it's nice to see Denver lose, it was nice to see Baltimore lose. Anything can happen. What I want is for our team to focus on playing well against Pittsburgh. I think it's great that we can talk about (the playoffs race) in late November. It hasn't been like that for awhile around here," Del Rio said.
The Jaguars could entertain more playoff talk next week, too, but only if they beat the Steelers this Sunday night.
In other news, the Jaguars' Dec. 19 game at Green Bay has been moved from a one p.m. kickoff to a 4:15 p.m. start.